Giant Bomb Review

621 Comments

Catherine Review

2
  • X360
  • PS3

You won't find another game on the market that's quite like Catherine, but it fumbles too frequently to work.

The alignment meter pops up to let you know that the story is considering your decisions.

There aren't a lot of games out there like Catherine, and even fewer of them exist in English-speaking territories. That's probably one of the best things going for Atlus' boys-to-men tale about a love triangle with a supernatural twist. It seems that unfaithful men are dying in their sleep, and you'll quickly find yourself caught among their ranks as you figure out what to do with the two girls in your life by day and climbing a seemingly endless supply of block towers in your sleep. You'll need to be adept at both if you want things to end your way, but Catherine's limited character interaction, shallow characters, and monotonous puzzles combine to form a unique experience that feels frustratingly limited in every respect.

In the game you'll play as Vincent, a weak, wishy-washy sort of guy who's always getting admonished or outright bossed around by his longtime girlfriend, Katherine. Just as he's lamenting that he's not sure he's ready to commit further in this relationship, a younger woman named Catherine stumbles into his life, and before long, he's cheating on his girlfriend with Catherine, who, by comparison, seems completely carefree and indifferent about, well, everything. Being faced with a choice between carefree youth and the increasing responsibilities of adulthood only intensifies as the story proceeds. Before long, things get decidedly supernatural as rumors start of nightmares that are killing traitorous men in their sleep and, sure enough, cheating Vincent finds himself in a nightly fight for survival against endless block-filled towers and his own worst fears.

The interactive parts of Catherine are broken into two separate chunks. When awake, you'll watch a lot of cutscenes and hear a lot of dialogue, but you'll eventually find yourself turned loose in a bar, where your friends gather at the end of every night. In the bar you can walk around and talk to the various patrons, many of whom are also enduring the same nightly ordeals that you are, but no one can really remember their dreams all that clearly. Most of the dialogue has you sitting and listening to their stories, but you'll occasionally get to make a dialogue choice that might just give them the encouragement they need to survive the night's trials. You'll also receive text messages from the two ladies in your life, and how you respond to them--or, in fact, if you respond to them--helps determine how the story unfolds by swinging an alignment meter one way or the other. Generally speaking, it'll shift to the blue side if you're choosing the responsible options that Katherine might agree with or red if your decisions are more in line with something that free-wheeling Catherine might do. The interactions feel incredibly limited, and there isn't that much to do in the bar before heading home and starting the next action stage unless you're interested in playing a retro-styled arcade version of the block puzzles that make up the rest to the game or working over the jukebox, which slowly gives you access to Catherine's soundtrack, as well as select cuts from Persona 4 and other Atlus releases.

Catherine's just kind of annoying.

At night, the action begins, as Vincent finds himself surrounded by sheep at the foot of a large tower of blocks. You can push or pull the blocks around, and the goal is to quickly climb the tower. The game starts out slowly to show you the basic logic behind the blocks' properties. For example, blocks will attach at diagonal edges, so you don't always need to have a block directly underneath another block for support. Once you've got the basics, later levels start introducing special blocks, like ones that crumble when you step on them, or trampoline-style blocks that let you jump up and grab onto ledges you wouldn't be able to reach otherwise, or ice blocks that cause you (and the blocks you're pushing) to slip and keep moving. Once you get the logic behind how the blocks move and start to see solutions in the puzzles instead of just a mountain of blocks, it isn't impossibly difficult. Unfortunately, that moment didn't happen for me until I was most of the way through the game. But the difficulty of the individual puzzles isn't what brings Catherine down. It's their repetitive nature. It feels like there are tons of levels in the game, and they're all roughly the same. The special blocks change things up a bit, and you'll have to climb towers while running away from a large boss-style monster during the last puzzle of every night, but the act of pulling and pushing blocks around to form staircases and create paths doesn't hold up for the entire game, and by night three or four (which is a little before the game's halfway point), I found myself not wanting to play anymore.

The big issues with Catherine are that the gameplay of block puzzles gets old fast and the way the characters develop in the story isn't engaging enough to pick up the slack. Despite being able to make choices that sway the alignment meter and alter the outcome of the story, Vincent's behavior usually doesn't line up with the choices you've made. Even if you're very clearly steering him in one direction, the story beats essentially force him to remain mostly indecisive right up until the final set of challenges. In my case, this resulted in a Vincent who was constantly saying that he was looking to remain true to Katherine, yet kept having nervous breakdowns about Catherine and her feelings. Considering how pushy and psycho Catherine acts, it's hard to imagine anyone feeling the need to "let her down gently." With the characters written that way, it's hard to care about the story very much, especially when you consider that most of your choices are made in-between action stages, where a confessional booth acts as some sort of personality test, asking this-or-that questions about how you'd act in specific situations and so on. It feels like the decisions you're making are almost completely detached from the story itself.

Big bosses will try to trip you up as you climb the tower.

That said, the story sequences themselves are pretty well-made. There are a handful of fully animated sequences, but even the in-engine stuff is sharp, colorful, and full of personality. Some of the characters you'll meet around the bar have interesting side stories that are told both in and out of the dream world, and the voice cast is solid enough to make those stories work. It's a shame that most of the game's strongest points are practically crammed into the margins to make room for more block pushing.

It's certainly not awful, but too many aspects of Catherine felt like they were actively trying to push me away. More variety in the gameplay would have helped, as would more meaningful interactions with the game's cast. As it stands, the coolest thing about Catherine is that there really isn't anything else out there like it. If that's enough for you, you'll probably have a better time with the game than I did.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
621 Comments
Posted by Ventilaator

Jeff explains his obviously 2 star opinion about Catherine on the Bombcast - Sorry you don't like it bro
 
Jeff writes down his 2 star opinion and calls it a review - RAGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
 
The problem is either with giving scores or the word "review". One of them needs to go because people are idiots about them.

Posted by Tober

It's just opinion. Relax people. I liked the review, yet i'm still looking very much forward to the game.

Posted by EnduranceFun

Great review by Jeff. I am kind of disappointed in the way the game's story seems to be interacted with, it seems a lot more like one of those anime games with how there's not really much to the actual game, just watching a story unfold. So meh, I'll probably pick it up second-hand if it goes cheap.

Edited by Metal_Mills

@Winternet said:

400 comments for a single review! Can anyone fill me in on what the hell happened here?

Jeff: I didn't really like this game.

Comments: WTF JEFF MAKES ME SICK WHAT A FUCKING LOSER HOW CAN U NOW LIKE THIS GAME?

People can't handle opinions.

Edited by Tennmuerti

@Khann said:

Oh Giantbomb community how you amuse me so.

Jim Sterling gives his honest opinion on Bastion that conflicts with most other reviewers opinions and gives it a low score as a result. GB community "HOLY SHIT JIM STERLING IS THE WORST MOTHER FUCKER IN THE WORLD AND DESTRUCTOID IS JUST AS BAD. I HOPE HE BURNS ETERNALLY"

Jeff does the exact same thing. GB community "That's OK Jeff. My opinion doesn't align with yours, but I understand people can have opinions that differ from mine.. oh and FUCK EVERYONE WHO SAYS ANYTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT THIS REVIEW AND MAY YOU BURN IN ETERNAL FLAMES"

You guys are just as fucking moronic as any other community, and it's laughable that you think you aren't.

The main problem with your argument is that Jim Sterling makes controversial reviews that don't allign with the majority almost all the time and does so with the sole purpose of getting hits. People dislike him because he posts controversial reviews again and again and again to generate heat. Jim does it on a constant basis, so yes some people got tired of his shtick.

But it's ok if you lack the capacity to understand the difference, jump to a conclusion and need to use insults to further your point. We understand.

@LiquidSwords said:

As a community who prides itself as being different, you guys can be the biggest babies this side of the internet.

Apart from a few people trying to lynch the review, it would seem that most people in the comments are actually quite reasonable to both sides of the argument on game's quality. (or mocking the hysteria from the few, thus seeming to multiply it, which by the way you are doing yourself too)

Posted by DiGiTaL_SiN

Hmm, after reading this review I decided to check out Metacritic. I'm confused about how GB is the ONLY website that gave this game a negative review so far. I trust Jeff's judgement but how come everyone else says otherwise. I'm gonna play it either way, but this is really strange...
 
I'M JACK FROST HO!

Posted by Tesla

So, Jeff's review boils down to "Most of this game is block puzzles, I don't like the block puzzles."

Imagine a review for MLB The Show 11 that pans the game for spending most of your time hitting, catching, and throwing a small ball around. A valid point for those who don't like baseball, but should a review like that be taken seriously? When the reviewer is not feeling the very premise of the game, perhaps it is wise to choose a different person to review the game.

Posted by kyomagi
@DiGiTaL_SiN:  
 
Well maybe he does like the genre?  I dont know, i mean taking away IGN and Destructoids review, you have 1up giving it 100/100.  Maybe the dude is butthurt that its not P5?   
 
Oh hey jeff, hows your job at gamespot... 
 
OOPS
Posted by mnzy
@kyomagi said:
Oh hey jeff, hows your job at gamespot...  OOPS
Do you know why he isn't there anymore? Because it doesn't exactly help your argument.
Posted by murse2008

I'm find it odd that some people are so obsessed with the staff of this site and their points of view on gaming (and non-gaming) matters. They are excellent and often hilarious game journalists, but they are not everything the site is about and neither are their reviews. The beauty of GiantBomb is that if you don't like Jeff's review of Catherine you can just go ahead and write your own one. You may even get it featured. I don't know of any other site that gives you that.

Posted by turbomonkey138

@mutha3 said:

@oysteinBrenne said:

WOW this review is fucking terrible sorry jeffs this is the worst review you have ever done


Here go watch a better Review

That review is fucking terrible. He's literally summarizing and giving us a story synopsis for 90% of it. At least link to a positive review that isn't terrible:http://www.1up.com/reviews/catherine-review

You are really dumb. Not sure if troll.

Posted by kyomagi
@mnzy:  
 
Sure do, nice downgrade.  
Posted by Zero_

Interesting series of events... I wonder if Jeff's history with Atlus might have affected his appreciation of the game for good or bad.

Edited by darkjester74

Whoa, mega rage up in here. 
 
I read "this or that question" as "dis or dat question".  Which means this game would be way better if it had a Jack Attack. 
 
FWIW, I played the demo and it pretty much convinced me this game isnt for me.
Posted by Winternet

@zerdune said:

@Winternet said:

400 comments for a single review! Can anyone fill me in on what the hell happened here?

8.8 happened.

Man, those were the days.

Posted by MosesWalker

I played it and liked it alot. I don't think you should play this game on Easy. I'm not sure or the varying degrees of difficulty in each modebut I finished Catherine on Normal and thought the pzzles were quite challenging and fun as well as the story. Sorry, you didn't like it , Jeff but I definitely don't regret my purchase. It's one of my favorite puzzles games I've ever played.
Posted by Bernoulli

This game is basura, first time I've rage quit a game since I was a child.

Posted by Vorbis

I found it was Katherine who was the psycho and not Catherine, when you reject someone they tend to go crazy.

Anyway I'm enjoying it a lot and I'm kind of glad GB isn't big enough to impact the games sales with its review, we need more games willing to try something new and less rehashed Call of Duty/clones.

Known for a long time I do not share the same taste in games as Jeff so I am not really surprised, just disappointed it was not Kessler who got to review it.

Posted by nick_verissimo

Duders, stop looking at what a game scores and start reading what the reviews.  These are all opinions from different people, so take them as they are; opinions.  Who cares what IGN gave it?
Posted by Catolf

Look at that I go away and this place explodes again. lol

Posted by ComradeKhan

So Jeff didn't like it... That means I probably will like it. 
 
Jeff's taste in video games is getting scary, both his likes and his dislikes are becoming questionable.

Posted by Binman88

People moaning about this game getting this score are silly. 
 
However, I'd love to see what the crossover is between people who blasted Jim Sterling's 6/10 score for Bastion (the lowest score by a fair margin on Metacritic for that game, at least upon release) as being "purposefully contrarian", and considered his opinion irrelevant and attention-seeking, and the people who are now saying that we should respect Jeff's opinion on Catherine, despite it being an even lower score and by an even larger margin when compared to the rest.
 
If there's no evidence to suggest any underhandedness, then you should accept their opinion for what it is; but I'd love to see who was both quick to berate Destructoid and quick to jump to Jeff's defence here. 

Edited by glanesb

Loved the review and love the game. Both parties keep up the good work. 
Was I looking for the next-gen Persona opus? Yes...Yes I was. 
Did I find it with Catherine? No.... 
If you would of asked me last night while I was playing the last part of the game , I would of told you to wipe your ass with it. I have set up a runner for controllers. My employees are pissed with me as they run to and from Gamestop. I remind them they are paid by the hour. As I look at the game in a whole......MUAH to ATLUS.....thank-you for my next Blame A Game On My Psychosis. 
Rarely does a game call me throughout the day like Catherine....am I turning into the protagonist?! Probably. That's ok.....(as I look down at my sleeping woman friend)....I feel much more people are going to point their heads towards Atlus and the Persona team for future work. They have succeeded . 

Posted by Solh0und

Seems more like a rental.

Posted by Beforet

Whoa, 400 comments!

Edited by Hourai

Will Jeff ever stop being so fucking pessimistic all the time? All he does anymore is complain. If you're not going to give an objective review, then don't review at all. Looking for faults in a game just because you don't like that style of gameplay is retarded. Every other review praised the game. It's not a bad game. Stop pushing potential customers away from something they might enjoy.

Posted by FluxWaveZ
@Beforet said:

Whoa, 400 comments!

Yeah, and some people like to think this game isn't getting attention.
Posted by Illmatic

Me like. Jeff not like. Me rage.

Posted by CosmicQueso

@Hourai said:

Will Jeff ever stop being so fucking pessimistic all the time? All he does anymore is complain. If you're not going to give an objective review, then don't review at all. Looking for faults in a game just because you don't like that style of gameplay is retarded. Every other review praised the game. It's not a bad game. Stop pushing potential customers away from something they might enjoy.

Says the guy with the anime avatar lol...

Posted by Catolf
@Hourai said:
Will Jeff ever stop being so fucking pessimistic all the time? All he does anymore is complain. If you're not going to give an objective review, then don't review at all. Looking for faults in a game just because you don't like that style of gameplay is retarded. Every other review praised the game. It's not a bad game. Stop pushing potential customers away from something they might enjoy.
Stop that.
 
Read his review, he states clearly why he didn't like it/wasn't a fan, it's his right to his opinion and he's entitled to have it, you disagree with his views and thats fine but stop acting like that. No reviewers are alike, just like people are different, you gotta take the good with the bad.
Posted by FluxWaveZ
@murse2008 said:

You may even get it featured. I don't know of any other site that gives you that.

Bitmob. I believe 1UP did that too. Actually, GB has a lot to improve concerning community featured content.
Posted by CosmicQueso

@mantasradzas said:

I think Giant Bomb should get rid of review stars in their reviews. The only thing that I could gripe about in this review is the score... Captain America got 3 stars from Kessler. Is it a better game? Duke Nukem Forever - 2 stars. So Duke Nukem is just as good as this game? Or maybe you can't compare the scores... Brink got 2 stars... GET RID OF THE STARS P.S. Just because Jeff hates the characters, doesn't mean the game is bad. Try it and find out for yourself.

I'd rather play Captain America because it seems like a better game (to me, but YMMV). But yes, try it for yourself. Letting a reviewer dictate what you want to play and your opinion of a game is the ultimate in silliness.

Posted by Catolf
@CosmicQueso said:

Says the guy with the anime avatar lol...

Haha, your cute, enough lumping people together, it's rather annoying.
Posted by Hourai
@CosmicQueso said:

@Hourai said:

Will Jeff ever stop being so fucking pessimistic all the time? All he does anymore is complain. If you're not going to give an objective review, then don't review at all. Looking for faults in a game just because you don't like that style of gameplay is retarded. Every other review praised the game. It's not a bad game. Stop pushing potential customers away from something they might enjoy.

Says the guy with the anime avatar lol...

How is that relevant at all? 
 
@Catolf said:
@Hourai said:
Will Jeff ever stop being so fucking pessimistic all the time? All he does anymore is complain. If you're not going to give an objective review, then don't review at all. Looking for faults in a game just because you don't like that style of gameplay is retarded. Every other review praised the game. It's not a bad game. Stop pushing potential customers away from something they might enjoy.
Stop that.  Read his review, he states clearly why he didn't like it/wasn't a fan, it's his right to his opinion and he's entitled to have it, you disagree with his views and thats fine but stop acting like that. No reviewers are alike, just like people are different, you gotta take the good with the bad.
His reason for it basically amounts to "I didn't like this, so it's bad".  Repetitiveness is not always a bad thing. Puzzles aren't meant to be new and fresh every single time. He's completely missing the point of it. Just because he finds it boring doesn't mean it's bad. I find Call of Duty boring and repetitive, but that doesn't make it a bad series.
 
I get that it's his opinion and all, but when you hear nothing but praise from everybody and then log on your favorite website to find this, it's a little annoying. The WORST you could give this game is 3 stars. 2 puts this on the same level as Duke Nukem Forever, and that's just silly.
Posted by CosmicQueso

@Catolf said:

@CosmicQueso said:

Says the guy with the anime avatar lol...

Haha, your cute, enough lumping people together, it's rather annoying.

Nah you're cute... let's hug it out!

Posted by Chet_Rippo

You know, I'm not sure if Jeff even would have liked Persona 4 if he played it in any situation that wasn't the endurance run. From a quick glimpse at the game you'd see it is very slow paced and repetitive. Catherine may be the same way in terms of the block puzzles. I'm curious to see if he would have actually enjoyed this game through playing it with someonen else.

Posted by FluxWaveZ
@Vadis said:

You know, I'm not sure if Jeff even would have liked Persona 4 if he played it in any situation that wasn't the endurance run. From a quick glimpse at the game you'd see it is very slow paced and repetitive. Catherine may be the same way in terms of the block puzzles. I'm curious to see if he would have actually enjoyed this game through playing it with someonen else.

Jeff has always said, for any SMT game, that he would enjoy it more if the gameplay wasn't there. He said that several times during the P4 Endurance Run, he said it during the Devil Summoner Endurance Look and he effectively says the same in this Catherine review.
Posted by mutha3
@FluxWaveZ said:
@Vadis said:

You know, I'm not sure if Jeff even would have liked Persona 4 if he played it in any situation that wasn't the endurance run. From a quick glimpse at the game you'd see it is very slow paced and repetitive. Catherine may be the same way in terms of the block puzzles. I'm curious to see if he would have actually enjoyed this game through playing it with someonen else.

Jeff has always said, for any SMT game, that he would enjoy it more if the gameplay wasn't there. He said that several times during the P4 Endurance Run, he said it during the Devil Summoner Endurance Look and he effectively says the same in this Catherine review.
Actually, he said the opposite with Devil Summoner 2. He said he liked the gameplay, but the production values and the story weren't grabbing him.
Posted by MattBodega

@Vorbis said:

Known for a long time I do not share the same taste in games as Jeff so I am not really surprised, just disappointed it was not Kessler who got to review it.

This is easily the craziest comment in the entire thread... though I am flattered.

Posted by TheChaos

Still gonna play it.

Posted by MoeB

It's obvious that giantbomb's aim was to appear on the main metacritic page for Catherine. Clicks bro. Clicks...

Posted by Nictel

Though I'm going to buy this anyway: I find this review better than say 1Up's. Why? Because the score seems logical after reading the review where as the 1UP review basically says the puzzles have the quality of iOS apps and then goes on giving it a top score anyway. Reviews are still mainly opinions and that hasn't changed with this one.

Posted by Enigma777

Keep it cool guys. You're embarrassing yourselves AND the site.

Anyways, solid review Jeff. I still plan to pick it up, but it's going to have to wait because I've vowed to finish my extensive backlog first before I purchase another game.

Edited by halochief_90

As much as I hate how oysteinBrenne worded it, he's right in how someone who hates anime shouldn't be reviewing this game. Anime haters won't be touching this game with a ten-foot pole.

Posted by Guided_By_Tigers

I love it when people get all huffy puffy over someone giving a game they like a bad score.

Posted by Fuga

Loving anime won't make the game not shit. Sorry guys!

Posted by NuDimon

It's a shame really. But I'll still get it at EU release. :)

Posted by JeffGoldblum

I don't need to play a shitty block climbing game to watch anime.

Posted by Catolf
@Hourai: I understand. But we just gotta accept opinions as opinions and that we have our own, I love the game, i love the characters, the puzzels while i don't love them i have a healthy respect for them and gotta admit the satisfaction of getting a gold is soooo good. But still it wasn't his thing, I'm sad to see it get a two lumping it in with Duke cause that game is shit (to me!) but one mans trash is another's treasure. I think I respect Jeff more for at least giving it the score he thought it deserved, he's a brave man in that regard lol.
 
@Fuga said:
Loving anime won't make the game not shit. Sorry guys!
better question, have you played it to call the game shit? Demo? huh?
 
@halochief_90 said:
As much as I hate how oysteinBrenne worded it, he's right in how someone who hates anime shouldn't be reviewing this game. Anime haters won't be touching this game with a ten-foot pole.

I've seen people who really dislike anime like this game, don't again lump him up like that. It wasn't what he was into, leave it be.
 
@MattBodega said:

@Vorbis said:

Known for a long time I do not share the same taste in games as Jeff so I am not really surprised, just disappointed it was not Kessler who got to review it.

This is easily the craziest comment in the entire thread... though I am flattered.

I support this though. ^^
Posted by cabelhigh
@halochief_90 said:
As much as I hate how oysteinBrenne worded it, he's right in how someone who hates anime shouldn't be reviewing this game. Anime haters won't be touching this game with a ten-foot pole.
I think Jeff's problem has nothing to do with him hating anime, but instead that the story and the character re so idiosyncratic that they don't work together. When he mentioned that you can make Vincent say he wants to be faithful but the game makes it so that he has to cheat I lost a lot of sympathy for that character and, as a result, interest in the game. Anime's got nothing to do with it.