Catherine preview – Love, relationships, and nightmare sheep
Catherine is the type of game that focuses on relationships and character driven stories. PS3 Attitude was given a live demonstration of some of the early levels in the game by Aram Jabbari, the Manager of PR and Sales at Atlus U.S.A.
The premise of Catherine revolves around Vincent, just your normal, everyday type of guy who has been with his girlfriend for five years now. Naturally, she’s pressuring him to commit, but he isn’t quite ready to pop the big question just yet. Early on in the game, Vincent spends a lot of his time hanging out at the bar. Here, he can order drinks or chat with the bar’s interesting patrons. Soon, however, Vincent finds himself drifting off into a nightmarish dream world.
Gameplay primarily consists of you navigating your way out of Nightmare Puzzle Towers as they’re called, requiring you to push around blocks and climb your way to the top. Move too slowly and the blocks begin to fall into the abyss below, one row at a time. Sheep will constantly get in your way and try to push you off the tower as well.
You’ll run into power-ups as you make your way to the top. There’s a pillow that gives you an extra retry if you die, an energy drink that lets you bypass a section of the puzzle, a tome that clears the screen of sheep, a block that creates a block to help you out, and a bell that turns all blocks around you into normal blocks. Be wise in which items you pick up though as you can only carry one at a time.
Getting to the top is by no means an easy task. Jabbari told us that the normal difficulty level of the game will be similar to that of the Japanese version, post patch. It’s still going to be very difficult though. Even an expert like him had some trouble during some of the levels. Since this was early on too, we only imagine they will become much harder as the game progresses.
When you’re not trying to escape from these horrible nightmares, you’re making important life decisions regarding love and relationships. At times you’ll be asked a rather serious question like, “Is it okay to live together before marriage?” Depending on how you answer, you can influence your Law/Chaos Meter. There are multiple paths to take and endings to see depending on how you answer these questions and how far towards Law or Chaos your meter is pointing. Even cooler is the ability to see how the rest of people playing Catherine have answered the questions as well to see if you’re with the majority of players. It seems like an interesting look at how people think about a touchy subject such as love.
Our demo of Catherine ended with a look at the multiplayer aspect of the game. There are two modes, Coliseum (Competitive) and Babel (Co-op). While Babel is unlocked from the beginning, you have to beat the game in order to play Coliseum.
Both modes play just like the Nightmare Puzzle Towers only there are two players on screen instead of one. Depending on which mode, you’re either helping or punishing the other player. It looks like a nifty addition to the game except that we’re told it’s local only, so good luck trying to play with your friend in another state.
Speaking of states, Catherine is currently only scheduled for a North American release. While there is no EU release date, that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t happening. Should enough fans make their voices heard, Catherine is bound to get an EU release. Plus, with the PS3’s ability to play Blu-rays from any region, you should have no trouble importing the game if you can’t wait.
Overall, Catherine looks to be a twisted yet interesting look into relationships. It’s primarily a puzzle game, contrary to what you might think but there are some aspects from other genres. Catherine releases later this month on July 26th in North America.