As I wrote in my review of the game, though, the game in its current state, which is to say, its non-localized form, is not worth purchasing for those that already know their Japanese fairly well. You can actually make it through to the end of the game without knowing what anybody is saying, but you miss out on so much of the characterizations and plot details that it's just not worth forking $80+ for. The actual gameplay behind it is pretty great for the most part, but you're better of playing the game in a language you understand and, most likely, at a cheaper price point when it comes overseas. You're missing out on a pretty good story in the meantime, but I imagine that'll change eventually.
I still ultimately decided to write the review because of my position as a Japanese speaking member of the site. I know I'm not the only person who knows Japanese and I'm certainly not alone in importing this game, but as somebody who fits both criteria, I thought English-only speakers might be interested in a critical examination of the game without having to resort to translations of Famitsu or Amazon Japan reviews. Whether that is the case remains to be seen, but if nothing else, I hope it gives those who are still curious about the game a little bit more information before they decide whether to buy it themselves when it's localized. I personally think it's probably worth it, even having paid $100 for my copy, but the more information you know, the better.
Also, despite the hype the game had around it, both from myself and the rest of the Internet, I tried to go into the game as blindly as possible. Games like Catherine, I feel, are best experienced when you don't actually know you're getting yourself into and that was by and large the case for me. I stopped reading most news postings about the game a few months leading up to the release and didn't even try out the demo. Much like how I had previous played Personas 3 and 4 deliberately without knowing much beforehand, I wanted to make sure that happened again with Catherine. Judging by my own reactions to many of the twists, big, small, and humorous that the game had, I'd say that strategy was a success and recommend you do the same as well, if you can.
I should probably stop writing this since I've already been composing a lot this evening, but I'll leave you with a few little thoughts I had about the game that didn't make it into my review, provided below in bullet-point format.
- The text messages that Vincent receives are probably my favorite things about the entire game. They're a simple mechanic and don't take a whole lot of time at all, but I still think they add a lot to the experience. They keep you grounded in the world and remind you that there are lives other than Vincent's own that you have to think about. Getting a sweetly worded message from longtime girlfriend Katherine expressing concern about Vincent's working hours and then being able to word the reply so he expressed his gratitude and love just felt right to me.
- The title screen is really iconic for me. The imagery is just so distinct and that pained cry for Katherine that Vincent utters when it first loads up is just perfect. You know you're in for an intense game before you even hit the start button.
- There's a lot of symbolism to sift through in Catherine. While it's thematically a lot more centralized than a lot of Atlus' previous works, that doesn't make it any less dense or philosophically interesting to try and figure out. I loved it. There was even some imagery that harkened back to my days of studying at Catholic school, something which I never expected a game to do.
- I got a really weird ending to the game. I didn't bring it up in the review since that's not the place to really discuss it, but it certainly didn't turn out how I expected. It's not bad, but it's certainly made me curious how the other seven (I think that's how many?) turn out. Going to start another run soon, most likely. I gotta get my money's worth, after all.
- Damn, they better reuse that graphics engine for later games. Stuff's absolutely gorgeous to behold.
And that's a wrap.