The gameplay holds back a potentially awesome game
Catherine is a game that everyone should play, but maybe not buy. There is an amazing story and storytelling method in it. Sadly, the game's impact is weighed down by climbing block towers which is boring, tedious, and frustrating.
Catherine starts off with men dying constantly dying on the news of mysterious circumstances. The main character Vincent is having weird dreams, because he's cheating on his girlfriend Katherine. He later finds out that all the men who've died were also cheating and having strange dreams.
It's rare to find a game that deals with real life issues with love, relationships, and commitment. Other games try with a good versus evil slider bar, but they don't go far enough. In Catherine the player really feels the indecisiveness of the main character Vincent.
Vincent is a relatable character. He doesn't want to grow up and is happy with life until responsibility creeps up on him. His long-time girlfriend Katherine informs him that she wants to move their relationship toward and tells him that she thinks she is pregnant.
Vincent is looking for an escape so every night he goes to his favorite bar The Stray Sheep. While there he meets an incredibly hot blonde girl named Catherine. After a tryst with Catherine the game really picks up the pace of the story. Its becomes the classic question for a guy. Should he go for the ditzy hot Catherine or the sensible compatible Katherine (two separate women just to clarify).
I don't want to ruin the main story for anyone since it's the reason to play the game. One point that has to be addressed is the gameplay. The repetitiveness of climbing and solving block puzzles really stops the flow of the game. It is easy to see the symbolism of panicking to get to the top of the tower is the same as Vincent's feelings about his current real life situations.
Luckily the concepts of how the block puzzles work are pretty basic. Vincent can either push, pull, or add blocks the tower in an effort to climb it as fast as possible. As long as two blocks touch each other they will not fall of the map. This is called an "edge" in the game, which is actually said by a lady to make it one of the most annoying sounds in the game.
Seeing my path on the over-world map of how many block puzzles I have left is depressing. The game does become more difficult as the game goes on, but they add special springboard, destructible, and immovable blocks to spice up the gameplay. When you finally do beat a level you feel great and nice bit of animation happens to signal that you beat the "commitment" monster that was chasing you up the tower. It would be more effective if the same thing didn't happen every time.
The art style is one of the more unique ones I've seen in years. The anime style with painted edges gives the game an cinematic but crude realistic feel at the same time. I hope more games to some extent take notes from Catherine in showing that you don't have to spend 20 million dollars on face capture technology to get a great cut-scene.
I tried to have an all evil/bad playthrough with the game. Early on you feel like your choices really are affecting the story, but near the end the game seems to already be on a set path for you. Even though I ended up being a real jerk to everyone in the game it still all worked out for me in the end. Catherine (game) also suffers from the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King movie curse of not ending when it should have. I won't spoil it, but there is a specific part in the game where it clearly should have ended and it would have worked really well. Sadly, it just keeps going on with the story.
There truly is nothing like Catherine on shelves today for video games. There are so many things that Catherine does right it's really a shame that lack of variety and the length of the gameplay can hold back a great experience.