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Catherine is a mind trip, blending the impact of real life decisions, the nightmares of finally growing up, and the fear of dying young. While the core puzzle-platforming offers nerve-wracking excitement, players are likewise gifted with an engaging, authentic story.
- The clever plot and narrative style
- The intensely challenging puzzles
- The solid replay value
- The repetition that kicks in during the game's latter stages
- The occasional camera angle hiccup
- Some of the story elements are confusing
(continued from previous page) ...in the real world. The gameplay is extremely fast. As you move Vincent higher up the walls, cubes fall from underneath you, and if you miss your step or climb too slowly, you’ll fall to your wooly death. There are multiple paths to the top of each level, where you are rewarded with the option to buy an item, chat with fellow sheep, learn new techniques, and eventually enter a confession booth to answer that floor’s pressing question. For example, you may have to confess whether you envy males in porn. It’s answers to questions like that and your actions in your waking life that help unfold the story—and ultimately lead to the game’s numerous endings.
Each night, at the end of the level, Vincent must face off against a trippy boss. Players must quickly scale the block wall to avoid his cryptic bride, or the baby with chainsaws, for example. The boss battles are tough, but the game as a whole is actually quite difficult. The puzzle-platforming portion is downright nasty at times. It’s not the blocks with spikes that are so frustrating, or the slow-moving dark blocks, it’s some of the mind-bending concepts the player is forced to consider as they guide Vincent up narrow pathways. I like hard games and I fit in the boat that feels this generation has lost that certain punch the Golden Age packed. But, Catherine is difficult in a rewarding way. I spent about an hour on one particular level, but once I figured out the pattern, it helped me breeze through the following level in that particular nightmare. Camera angles or the lack thereof, were really the only shortcoming in the nightmare sections. There were times I needed to see the back of the wall, but the camera only swings so far to each side, meaning some of your actions are done blindly.
I will say the frustration kicks in towards the end, but it’s mainly out of repetition. The latter levels are quite tough, doable, but tough; however, the game started to drag after the eighth hour. The game is a lot longer than I thought it would be, especially considering the drawn-out ending. Levels got a bit too drawn out and frustrating, but luckily the reward of waking up the following morning and learning more about the story was enough to keep me pushing further. I can say I enjoyed the story and gameplay outside of the nightmares so much that it forced me to play through the monotony of the puzzle sections even when I was ready to stop. You even get multiplayer challenges once you beat the game. Match that with the numerous endings and different ways to play through each level, and you have a game with great replay value.
Catherine’s attempt to capture the more realistic side of gaming works because it’s one of the first titles to push moral decisions on its players, and provide real-to-life reactions and results. While you get a chance to guide the narrative, at times it’s unclear how exactly your decisions are shaping the plot and end result. But at the end it all works quite well. I had some issues with the ending I was given, but I suppose I’m the only one to blame for that. And that is part of Catherine’s mystique. Sure, the puzzles grow repetitive and some of the camera angles are frustrating, but the reality that these could very well be your co-workers, your older brother, your girlfriend, or your pub mates may strike nightmarish fear into the generation that grew up when games were nothing more than moving pixels on a television screen. It just goes to show that a lot has changed since Mario and Donkey Kong ruled the gaming world.
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