Catherine’s Review (Xbox 360)

The game Catherine is the story of a man named Vincent who’s at a crossroad in his young, but not really that young, life. Vincent has a girlfriend named Katherine (with a “K”) who, although well meaning, is pressuring him about commitment and life choices Vincent seems reluctant to face.

At the start of the game Vincent meets a beautiful blonde named Catherine (with a “C”), who is the total opposite of his girlfriend Katherine (with a “K”). This chance meeting leads Vincent down a path where he has to make tough choices between his desire for freedom and his responsibilities to the woman he loves. This duality unfolds as a story of drama and plot twists that ends with a conclusion that no player will see coming.

The Game
The game is a puzzle game at its heart. While playing Catherine some players will no doubt want to complete the puzzles just to find out what happens next. You can think of the story as your reward for completing puzzles, which can be both satisfying and challenging.

The puzzles take place in Vincent’s dreams. When he wakes the story is advanced by cut-scenes and the game’s bar. The bar is where Vincent and other game characters hang out at to drink. Here players can get Vincent drunk, play a mini-game called Rapunzel, listen to the bar’s juke box, and interact with other players. The mini-game is essentially a game within the game, and plays just like the puzzle stages of the main game of Catherine.

Interacting with other players in the bar allows more of the story, and back story, to unfold. It also offers players the chance to affect the fate of some characters by their interaction with them. Vincent can also send and receive text messages through his phone, which also offers other options such as saving the game and viewing past accomplishments from the puzzle stages.

But the most important interactions Vincent has are with Katherine and Catherine. What you say, do, and how you text each of these women will affect Vincent’s morality meter. This meter will impact the game’s ending and offers players the choice to make the decision to being faithful and unfaithful. Ultimately the meter represents freedom and responsibility.

Initially this game can become difficult really quickly, even playing on the easy difficult level. Once players adjust to the controls and rules of the game, and once players learn various cleaver tricks and techniques that they can employ in their puzzle solving quest, it gets easier as you progress.

The boss battles and the quest for gold medals make this game a very challenging affair, and simply surviving each stage will not be enough for some hardcore gamers that have a spirit for mastering a game. In addition to being tough at points in the game, each difficulty changes the layout of the puzzles. This makes the game not only harder on higher difficulty levels but also feel a bit fresh since you can’t use the exact same method as before.

The game’s presentation is solid. The story is told through anime style cut scenes very effectively. While playing the game’s puzzles there are not a lot to the atmospheres other than the various styles of blocks and the occasional enemy character and trap. While it is not as detailed or graphics heavy as a game such as Crysis 2, Catherine does offer some fairly interesting art styles and visuals that players can enjoy.

Final Verdict
Catherine is a fun gaming experience with a lengthy single player experience that offers tons of replay value. With its interesting story and characters, as well as addictive gameplay, Catherine is a game that is worth playing by gamers looking for a challenging title that is different from the sea of status quo sequels that will dominate this holiday season. This is a game that deserves a 4 out of 5 rating.

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