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Catherine – Review Xbox

Developed by Atlus, Catherine has made the jump to the U.S markets from Japan where it was known as キャサリン Kyasarin.  What we got here is a treat for both fans of anime and for those who are looking for something different, because this is something you never played before.  Catherine, is about Vincent who works in the tech industry and spends late nights with his friends at a bar. Vincent's love life revolves around his girlfriend Katherine (That’s Katherine with a “K”) who he has been dating for several years.  Katherine wants to take the relationship to the next level but Vincent is unsure of what to do.

The main plot in Catherine takes off when an attractive, seductive blonde enters Vincent's life. That would be Catherine with a “C”. After a late night at the bar with Catherine, Vincent wakes up next to the blonde bombshell.  He realizes that he cheated on Katherine and thus begins his quest to get out of this situation that he has found himself in. Should he be faithful to Katherine and marry her?  Or pursue a relationship with Catherine in whom he is mildly interested?  

Worse yet, the situation has plagued him with chronic nightmares that threaten to kill him in real life.  During Vincent's nightmares, he will have to survive various puzzles and boss stages that are based on his real life. The puzzles play fairly identically, making them repetitive. By rearranging a sequence of blocks, Vincent is expected to climb to the top of a tower, which has a Mario feel to it.  When the game starts to throw in heavier blocks, blocks made of ice, blocks that explode, you'll quickly find out that Catherine is a tough challenge which might turn off some.

Once you best the puzzles, you’ll be back in the real world and will be able to explore the story. Every time Vincent had a nightmare, I wanted to get through the puzzles as fast as I could to continue the story simply because I wanted to know more about the plot. The cast of characters are great and help to flush out the plot but you can easily skip over this, which could make the plot thin for those who do so. Over time you will know what to expect from Catherine's night and day formula. Vincent's puzzled-filled nightmares can often be tense and require players to rapidly think them through. While in the real life sequences you spend your time leisurely with Vincent friends at bar drinking beer. It’s this structure that helps give Catherine its unique pacing.

Catherine's strong point is presenting mature themes that aren't often in found games. Themes of marriage and being single are rarely touched in video games and make this one of the most mature games on the market. But when you get into how the game plays and into the story, you'll realize that there's a lot more to it than just plot. Every time Vincent completes a stage during his nightmare, he is subjected to questioning about his decisions. This is one of the few games that makes gamers ask about their love life. Those who are honest, will find Catherine to be a more immersive experience than some were expecting.  From the difficult puzzles, to the conversations to partake in, and choices to make, Catherine packs a lot. 

The morality system is a nice touch, but I often found myself taken out of atmosphere because of it. Every time you make a decision, either good or bad, you see a morality bar showing your actions. I think it would have been much better to keep that hidden from the audience because it would have felt like a more personal experience. Yes the themes do that to an extent, but I always found it easier to choose between Katherine and Catherine because I would see that morality bar.

A few problems I have with the game are critical mistakes that keep it from being a great game; Catherine's story will take you six to seven hours to complete. It does have multiple endings and online leader boards which increase the replayablitiy.  You may see a few things different from your first playthrough but it isn't enough for me to justify my 60 dollar purchase.  Ultimately, Catherine is still a short-lived experience, but one that is perfect for anime fans.



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