My one BIG problem with Catherine

Posted by joshth (503 posts) -

         So let me start this off by saying that I liked Catherine.  I would probably give it 4 stars if I was reviewing it, and would reccomend it to anyone who was interested in either the block puzzles or the crazy story.  However I do have a fairly large problem with the game.  No, its not the puzzles (which I actually found myself enjoying more and more as the game went on).  No, its not the story, which while not Atlus's best is still interesting and has plenty of crazy twists.  Instead my problem is with the two main female characters, Katherine and Catherine.  Let me explain  
 
         Basically as I'm sure most who are reading this already know, Catherine's a story about the main character Vincents infidelity and affair with a strange girl named Catherine.  As the story plays out over the course of the week, you will basically fall into 3 parts of every day.  The first part will be the cutscenes where the story mostly unravels (and basically the only time you ever get to see the two girls, more on that later) the second part is where vincent is at the bar talking to his friends and the side characters and replying to texts.  The third and final part is the nightmare section where you will do the block puzzles and answer (sometimes) tough moral questions.  Now as the story goes on you have to start making a choice where you either be chaotic about life and have an affair with Catherine or be lawful about life and stay with your girlfriend Katherine.  But herein lies my problem.  I've played the game twice now (once the good lovers, and second the true affair ending), neither time did I once care about either of the characters Katherine or Catherine.  Why?  Because they are almost NEVER developed as characters! 
 
        The only time you ever see Katherine or Catherine is durring the initial cutscenes, except for a couple of times you can see Catherine after everyone else goes home.  And even then the only real conversation that takes place is Catherine flirting and Vincent being akward.  Anyways so durring these cutscenes every day you never once have a real conversation with either of them.  All of the cutscenes with Catherine mostly consist of her waking up next to Vincent and kind of flirting with him, and vincent saying that he doesn't remember anything and that he shouldn't have done this.  Katherine who's been your girlfriend for five years, only has scenes in which she is asking if something is wrong with vince, or trying to pressure him into marriage.  So basically both serve to further Vincents personal delema, which is good, but never develop them as characters.  Essentially the two of them are plot points, used to move the story along. 
 
       Let me use a different game made by atlus as an example of when the did this right, a game I'm sure most of GB is familiar with.  Persona 4.  Now in this game you can "date" any of the four female characters.  As you social link with them, their own personal story develops and you begin to care for them.  Would you have ever cared about Chie if you didn't know she loves steak and can kick a tank?  And Rise is a fairly good character to relate to Catherine.  Both are flirty and attractive, but thats the full description for Catherine.  Rise is later developed into a character dealing with stardom and begins to have multiple personality issues, which makes her interesting.  These are characters develped over time, which makes you care about them. 
 
      And the thing is, is that its not like they didn't have character development in the game.  Vincent depending on how you play him can really develop as a charcter and can become a totally different person from what he started.  Vincents friends are all developed with there varying personalities and own personal problems.  Even the sheep you repeatedly meet in your dreams become characters that have there own issues, and you soon care about them!  I mean I thought Erica was a more intersting girl then either of the two female leads!  I wish there was ending where you could have an affair with her!  If steps had been taken to have REAL conversations with either of the girls, then the game as a whole could have been 10 times better in my opinion. 
 
      Let me reiterate that I LIKED Catherine.  It was my most anticipated game of the summer, and is probably still gonna be my favorite.  I just feel like... this was a little rushed so they didn't  have time to put in as much as they should.  But what are your thoughts and feelings on this?
#1 Posted by joshth (503 posts) -

         So let me start this off by saying that I liked Catherine.  I would probably give it 4 stars if I was reviewing it, and would reccomend it to anyone who was interested in either the block puzzles or the crazy story.  However I do have a fairly large problem with the game.  No, its not the puzzles (which I actually found myself enjoying more and more as the game went on).  No, its not the story, which while not Atlus's best is still interesting and has plenty of crazy twists.  Instead my problem is with the two main female characters, Katherine and Catherine.  Let me explain  
 
         Basically as I'm sure most who are reading this already know, Catherine's a story about the main character Vincents infidelity and affair with a strange girl named Catherine.  As the story plays out over the course of the week, you will basically fall into 3 parts of every day.  The first part will be the cutscenes where the story mostly unravels (and basically the only time you ever get to see the two girls, more on that later) the second part is where vincent is at the bar talking to his friends and the side characters and replying to texts.  The third and final part is the nightmare section where you will do the block puzzles and answer (sometimes) tough moral questions.  Now as the story goes on you have to start making a choice where you either be chaotic about life and have an affair with Catherine or be lawful about life and stay with your girlfriend Katherine.  But herein lies my problem.  I've played the game twice now (once the good lovers, and second the true affair ending), neither time did I once care about either of the characters Katherine or Catherine.  Why?  Because they are almost NEVER developed as characters! 
 
        The only time you ever see Katherine or Catherine is durring the initial cutscenes, except for a couple of times you can see Catherine after everyone else goes home.  And even then the only real conversation that takes place is Catherine flirting and Vincent being akward.  Anyways so durring these cutscenes every day you never once have a real conversation with either of them.  All of the cutscenes with Catherine mostly consist of her waking up next to Vincent and kind of flirting with him, and vincent saying that he doesn't remember anything and that he shouldn't have done this.  Katherine who's been your girlfriend for five years, only has scenes in which she is asking if something is wrong with vince, or trying to pressure him into marriage.  So basically both serve to further Vincents personal delema, which is good, but never develop them as characters.  Essentially the two of them are plot points, used to move the story along. 
 
       Let me use a different game made by atlus as an example of when the did this right, a game I'm sure most of GB is familiar with.  Persona 4.  Now in this game you can "date" any of the four female characters.  As you social link with them, their own personal story develops and you begin to care for them.  Would you have ever cared about Chie if you didn't know she loves steak and can kick a tank?  And Rise is a fairly good character to relate to Catherine.  Both are flirty and attractive, but thats the full description for Catherine.  Rise is later developed into a character dealing with stardom and begins to have multiple personality issues, which makes her interesting.  These are characters develped over time, which makes you care about them. 
 
      And the thing is, is that its not like they didn't have character development in the game.  Vincent depending on how you play him can really develop as a charcter and can become a totally different person from what he started.  Vincents friends are all developed with there varying personalities and own personal problems.  Even the sheep you repeatedly meet in your dreams become characters that have there own issues, and you soon care about them!  I mean I thought Erica was a more intersting girl then either of the two female leads!  I wish there was ending where you could have an affair with her!  If steps had been taken to have REAL conversations with either of the girls, then the game as a whole could have been 10 times better in my opinion. 
 
      Let me reiterate that I LIKED Catherine.  It was my most anticipated game of the summer, and is probably still gonna be my favorite.  I just feel like... this was a little rushed so they didn't  have time to put in as much as they should.  But what are your thoughts and feelings on this?
#2 Posted by metalsnakezero (2290 posts) -

In a way this was more of a experiment for Atlus to get some training on systems they were new to so it is understandable that this was a bit rush leaving for some things out. But the characters, to me at least, feel like they were made to be representing the trubling relationships and personalities of different loves and troubles people have. Also these are adults who have already developed.

#3 Posted by SixtyXCelph (211 posts) -

I think @joshth meant characterization rather than character development.  As in, our own understanding and knowledge of the characters rather than the characters actually developing and growing.  And I agree completely, both Catherine and Katherine are two-dimensional and have the most basic of personalities.  I found them both unlikable, frankly, which probably wasn't helped by how flat they are as characters.  I understand they're meant to represent either end of the Freedom/Order spectrum, but, they're not fleshed out enough to have choosing either woman make any sense at all.  Catherine's insane and apparently murderous and Katherine's overbearing and... well, apparently also somewhat murderous... ANYWAY, the point being that there is not a lot of characterization for them.

Also, worth noting, I enjoy Catherine a lot.  Enough that I'm willing to pick it apart, haha.

#4 Posted by joshth (503 posts) -
@SixtyXCelph
yes this is EXACTLY how I feel, thank you.  There's just not much reason to care about either of them, which in part defeats the very purpouse of the game.
#5 Posted by mutha3 (4985 posts) -

They're major characters in the sense that they  spur along Vincent's development. But they aren't intented to have much more of a role in the story beyond that.  There's a reason there isn't a single scene in the game where you seem them "bonding" or some shit.
 
If you look at it from the perspective of "choosing" one of them , I think you are missing the point entirely.

#6 Posted by joshth (503 posts) -
@mutha3
I disagree completley.  The games endings are all about wheter you want to follow order and stay with Katherine, be chaotic and go with Catherine, or stray the middle and choose neither.  The game leads up to making that decision, thats what the entire game is about, thats what his moral delema is, and what you choose as a player affects who he chooses.
#7 Posted by mutha3 (4985 posts) -
@joshth said:
@mutha3: I disagree completley.  The games endings are all about wheter you want to follow order and stay with Katherine, be chaotic and go with Catherine, or stray the middle and choose neither.  The game leads up to making that decision, thats what the entire game is about, thats what his moral delema is, and what you choose as a player affects who he chooses.
Only on a superficial level.
 
What the story really revolves around is Vincent dealing with the awkward manchild slump his life has been in.
#8 Posted by Red (5994 posts) -

I've not played Catherine, but this is pretty much the gist of what I've heard about it. It's a shame, really, especially because of the team's previously seen talent with developing Persona 4's characters--and to a lesser extent, 3's--as you mentioned. There wasn't a single character I didn't love in Persona 4, be them a party member or a random social link or villain. Every character is developed, and nothing is as they initially appear. From the sound of this post, the game could've benefited from another stage in the game, before Vincent goes to the bar he can choose to go on a date with either of the characters, wherein the women are more developed and the player learns more about them, not unlike the Social Links in Persona 4.

#9 Posted by Daroki (710 posts) -

Catherine and Katherine are not supposed to develop as characters, they come into the game fully developed. They are meant to be idealized representations of chaos and order.

#10 Posted by joshth (503 posts) -
@Daroki
Well Katherine is a developed character that Vincent knows well, Catherine not so much as Vincent never really knows her for anything other then flirting and sex.  But in Katherines case its Vincent who knows Katherine well, not the player.  And if we as the player had come to know more about there previous dates and experiences together, I might have actually cared whether or not they stayed together.
#11 Posted by joshth (503 posts) -
@mutha3 said:


                    @joshth said:

@mutha3: I disagree completley.  The games endings are all about wheter you want to follow order and stay with Katherine, be chaotic and go with Catherine, or stray the middle and choose neither.  The game leads up to making that decision, thats what the entire game is about, thats what his moral delema is, and what you choose as a player affects who he chooses.

                   

               
Only on a superficial level.  What the story really revolves around is Vincent dealing with the awkward manchild slump his life has been in.

                   

               

True enough, and thats what makes the story good, but don't you think it would have improved the game, to let you get to know the two of them better?
#12 Posted by FateOfNever (1826 posts) -

I honestly don't have a problem with the characters as presented.  I never needed to know more about Catherine other than "apparently she's really clingy, quite invasive, and kind of crazy and I totally called everything about her when I heard about the plot of the game."  I also never really needed to learn more about Katherine either.  Sure you only see Vincent and Katherine together a handful of times, but I'm not sure I ever needed more than that.  
 
The guys at the bar talk about the important stuff from the past a little bit, and this is a relationship that's already well developed.  I'm not sure I would have gotten anything more out of the story if I had known what Katherine was like just three years into the relationship instead of five years into the relationship, or anything like that.  I, personally anyway, thought they made it pretty clear that Vincent is a bit of a wishy-washy kind of guy and that Katherine is his better half.  While she may come off as overbearing or controlling or whatever to some people, that doesn't really matter.  Katherine represents a decision in Vincent's life.  Is going to go for someone that will, and does, in theory, make him a better, more complete person, or will he pick a path that allows him to continue living the life the way he's been living it.
 
The story is about Vincent's relationship with these characters at this point in time in his life.  You're not going to see them spending every waking moment with each other because that's not how their relationships function.  It's coming into characters lives at a point that matters for the story.  You see this in movies all the time too.  You see how characters are living their lives at a set point in time, and you don't always see how things were between those characters at any other point in their lives.  You might get impressions of how things used to be, but you don't necessarily see back to those times.  The further along you get the more subtle developments you might pick up on for the characters, but you're probably not going to see anything drastic like you might have seen in P4.
 
On the subject of P4 for that matter though, one could bring up the point that for all of the individual story and character development you might see going along a social link with any given character, none of it matters.  At the end o the game, Chie isn't going to treat the main character any differently if you max out her social link or not.  Kanji isn't going to behave any differently if you help him through his troubles or not, he's only going to behave in a set way throughout the game.  So I guess I'm not sure how this is THAT much different.  I'm not saying that their story telling techniques shouldn't advance and change as they make more games, but Catherine was more of an experiment for the team, and the game itself already has a ton of cut scenes in it.  I'm not sure adding even more just to get slightly more in depth ideas on the side characters would have made that big of difference other than to run the risk of making the cut scenes potentially overbearing  
 
That's my opinion anyway.  Or at least part of it.

#13 Edited by joshth (503 posts) -
@FateOfNever said:



                   On the subject of P4 for that matter though, one could bring up the point that for all of the individual story and character development you might see going along a social link with any given character, none of it matters.  At the end o the game, Chie isn't going to treat the main character any differently if you max out her social link or not.  Kanji isn't going to behave any differently if you help him through his troubles or not, he's only going to behave in a set way throughout the game.  So I guess I'm not sure how this is THAT much different.  I'm not saying that their story telling techniques shouldn't advance and change as they make more games, but Catherine was more of an experiment for the team, and the game itself already has a ton of cut scenes in it.  I'm not sure adding even more just to get slightly more in depth ideas on the side characters would have made that big of difference other than to run the risk of making the cut scenes potentially overbearing    That's my opinion anyway.  Or at least part of it.

                    
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
This was primarily my problem with P4 is that the social links didn't effect the plot, Though I would still say there's value in understanding characters better, in both games.

               

#14 Posted by amomjc (977 posts) -

I think it's sad and telling when I get annoyed that people actually properly indented their sentences. Good post though, and don't take my comment to heart, keep it up it's just that there are so many people out there that don't care or are not educated enough to realize their mistake and its a breath of fresh air to even see it.

#15 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -

Good points. I think there's a whole untapped world of more complex social interactions, even if it's still just part of a larger RPG or other game. Some games are experimenting with this sort of thing, although I think they're often too damned timid. It's one of the ways to make memorable characters and not just lists of stats.

#16 Posted by QuistisTrepe (628 posts) -

While I'm not dismissing the points the OP made, the women here are hardly the focal point of the game. The females are meant to be the supporting characters, mere plot points as someone put it. The developers wisely chose to maintain the focus on not only Vincent, but on the male perspective to relationships and the moral choices that follow them. The plot had a premise and mostly stuck to it, IMO.

Some additional interaction between the three main characters would have been a nice bonus for sheer entertainment value, but it wouldn't have served much purpose. When the K/Catherines finally face each other for the first time, that was really all that was required and it cut down any opportunity for the game to go off on some superfluous tangent.

I personally liked the plot and narrative as is.

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