Catherine, Oh Catherine...

It doesn't seem fair to write a review for the game because I'm not sure the reason I'm having trouble liking Catherine is because it's a bad game, per se.  It's more like I'm coming to realize it's not my type of game.

The entirety of the hype for Catherine was that it was from the Persona team over at Atlus, the fine folk who made Persona 3 and Persona 4, both wonderful and beloved games.  So, I, as were many I presume, was expecting the same level of crazy story and terrific production values.  Which Catherine has, more or less.

The story does feel kind of weirdly disjointed when contrasted with the choices you can make.  While I'm clearly picking the "Back up off me, you crazy bitch" dialogue options, Vincent will still react in a relatively positive way to Catherine's appearances.  It kind o' seems to me that the story is meant to be middle-of-the-road, which would be fine, but maybe don't give me choices that contradict the cut scene if that's how you want it to play out.  Not to mention that I felt both of the females you're to choose between were rather unlikable.  At the very least, I didn't particularly like either of them.  But I still enjoyed it.  I like his friends and the characters you can save and talk to in the bar and the dream world and the twist was at least surprising since I thought I had called it two or three stages in and I was wrong.

I guess the real problem I'm running into is the gameplay is just no fun at all.  Even on the easiest difficulty I seem to be having trouble wrapping my head around these puzzles.  Granted, I was more than half-way through the game before I ran into such troubles, and it was only on a couple of stages, but, still.  It's rather telling that on the easiest difficulty I ran into any trouble.  And frankly I don't know if that's because the game is poorly designed, really difficult, or because I just suck at it.  I will say that the final stage felt incredibly cheap each time I died. 

POTENTIAL SPOILER:  Moving the camera and taking away my control while there are falling comets crashing around me and monster blocks that move on their own and can squash me?  Really?  Getting through that part felt more than a little lucky. END POTENTIAL SPOILER

In the end, though, I really want to enjoy Catherine, and not just because I spent $80 plus tax on it.  There is some great stuff going on it, it looks terrific, and has a great voice cast, but I'm really turned off by the block puzzles.  And I don't know what I was expecting from it other than what I got.  For me, I guess, I would have preferred a little more consistency with the dialogue options and the ensuing cut scenes and shorter puzzle stages.  My hope seems to have been that the balance of story to puzzle blocks would be weighted more toward story.  And I still can't say I hate it!  Merely I'm having trouble liking it.

5 Comments
6 Comments
Posted by SixtyXCelph

It doesn't seem fair to write a review for the game because I'm not sure the reason I'm having trouble liking Catherine is because it's a bad game, per se.  It's more like I'm coming to realize it's not my type of game.

The entirety of the hype for Catherine was that it was from the Persona team over at Atlus, the fine folk who made Persona 3 and Persona 4, both wonderful and beloved games.  So, I, as were many I presume, was expecting the same level of crazy story and terrific production values.  Which Catherine has, more or less.

The story does feel kind of weirdly disjointed when contrasted with the choices you can make.  While I'm clearly picking the "Back up off me, you crazy bitch" dialogue options, Vincent will still react in a relatively positive way to Catherine's appearances.  It kind o' seems to me that the story is meant to be middle-of-the-road, which would be fine, but maybe don't give me choices that contradict the cut scene if that's how you want it to play out.  Not to mention that I felt both of the females you're to choose between were rather unlikable.  At the very least, I didn't particularly like either of them.  But I still enjoyed it.  I like his friends and the characters you can save and talk to in the bar and the dream world and the twist was at least surprising since I thought I had called it two or three stages in and I was wrong.

I guess the real problem I'm running into is the gameplay is just no fun at all.  Even on the easiest difficulty I seem to be having trouble wrapping my head around these puzzles.  Granted, I was more than half-way through the game before I ran into such troubles, and it was only on a couple of stages, but, still.  It's rather telling that on the easiest difficulty I ran into any trouble.  And frankly I don't know if that's because the game is poorly designed, really difficult, or because I just suck at it.  I will say that the final stage felt incredibly cheap each time I died. 

POTENTIAL SPOILER:  Moving the camera and taking away my control while there are falling comets crashing around me and monster blocks that move on their own and can squash me?  Really?  Getting through that part felt more than a little lucky. END POTENTIAL SPOILER

In the end, though, I really want to enjoy Catherine, and not just because I spent $80 plus tax on it.  There is some great stuff going on it, it looks terrific, and has a great voice cast, but I'm really turned off by the block puzzles.  And I don't know what I was expecting from it other than what I got.  For me, I guess, I would have preferred a little more consistency with the dialogue options and the ensuing cut scenes and shorter puzzle stages.  My hope seems to have been that the balance of story to puzzle blocks would be weighted more toward story.  And I still can't say I hate it!  Merely I'm having trouble liking it.

Posted by benjaebe

Nice blog. I've been loving the game, but I totally get how people who weren't interested in the puzzle/arcade-y aspect would be disappointed or have trouble getting wrapped up in the game. Hey, at the very least your $80 went towards funding their next project. There are worse ways to spend your money.

Posted by SixtyXCelph
@benjaebe: That is precisely how I've chosen to look at it, actually.  I'll happily throw $80 at them if it'll fund a new Persona game on the PS3. (^_^)
Posted by Aronman789

I just can't get my mind around why you would make this into a puzzle game, you could easily have replaced those with dungeons or something and it would have made no difference to the story.

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Posted by ryanwho
@Aronman789 said:
I just can't get my mind around why you would make this into a puzzle game, you could easily have replaced those with dungeons or something and it would have made no difference to the story.
Yeah it would have been just as easy if this were an RPG with hundreds of demons to render and a battle system to design. That would have taken equal effort.
Edited by FluxWaveZ
@Aronman789 said:

I just can't get my mind around why you would make this into a puzzle game, you could easily have replaced those with dungeons or something and it would have made no difference to the story.

Except that the block climbing is a metaphor that they hammer pretty hard at the end of the game. 
 
And yeah, I could see not enjoying the game as much if I disliked the puzzle sections or found them too difficult. But I don't. I finished the game on Normal and I loved the challenge that they presented and I felt awesome each time I solved a particularly difficult segment. 
 
I did not like the constantly moving camera on that particular boss, though. It was really annoying and removed the flow of the climbing. Thankfully, the level was easy enough.