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02 Jul 2013
By Caragorn_007-11

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Catherine

2 Replies 809 Views Created 02-07-2013
02 Jul 2013
By Caragorn_007-11

Hi! I have just finished playing 'Catherine' (which you can get as a free download on PS+ at the moment) and here is my review.

 

This game created quite a division in opinion for me: On the one hand it attempts to do something quite different and original, which I applaud. On the other hand, though, there are aspects of the experience that just did not work for me; and unfortunately those apsects are so integral to the overall experience that the game provides, that it has actually left me not particularly wanting to play it again. This is a shame, as one of the draws of the game is decision-driven different endings (which we see implemented in games such as 'Heavy Rain').

 

If you read some of the other reviews I have posted, you will notice that I avoid (as much as possible) negative criticsm. This is because I understand how hard it is to actually develop and create games in the first place and also because, genreally speaking, negative criticism is far more easy for a reviewer to write about than positive, constructive criticism. Anyone can take anything apart just to have something to say.

 

So perhaps I should start with the positive elements of the game and then present the negative aspects that I experienced. The presentation of this game is very well executed: The graphical artistry (an 'Anime'/cartoon style); choice of musical score, voice overs and animation are great. The juxtaposition between gameplay, cut-scene and story-driven gameplay sections - creates a diverse (although linear) direction from the beginning to the end. I very much liked that idea, the player experiences three different ways of experiencing the game. The cut-scenes themselves are used as a 'reward' system for getting so far in the progression of the game; and although this is hardly a 'new' idea, it is still a solid and tried way of creating a good system. These cut-scenes are well animated and created, again with a very strong 'Anime' stylistic approach.

 

The core gameplay experience is a puzzle/platformer. This is actually well constructed, with many different routes and diverse ideas changing the gameplay throughout (especially in later levels). Again, the musical score is strong and actually adds an element of urgency and pressure, which is intertwined with a time limitation to complete the puzzle before you. There are also a few novel ideas in the story-driven gameplay sections (and by that I mean areas where there are no puzzles to complete and no time-limit (aside from an optional one); areas where you are able to learn more about the character you play and the other characters involved in the story).

 

All of these factors above, then, when combined create the basis for a great game. However (and now I move to the negative aspects), there are elements that impede and start to unravel these factors:

 

  1. Difficulty: In most games there are a tier of difficulty settings. If you choose 'normal'; often the difficulty of the gameplay that you will face may be fairly hard, but fairly easy to resolve. Unfortunately, even on 'normal'; 'Catherine' can be difficult, extremely unforgiving and very frustrating. This is linked to the next point:
  2. Gameplay and mechanics: What is extremely frustrating about the gameplay experience is that because you are under a time limit to achieve certain things, the actual gameplay mechanics can be woefully slow to respond or completely disorientating. At times (and often at crucial decison making times too) you cannot even see your character and this is not resolved by the ability to move the camera (which, for some reason you are able to do - but not actually move your character at the same time?!). The gameplay forces you, at times, to actually play at a slower pace than you can and this, of course, limits the amount of time you actually have as you progress through the different levels.
  3. The main character: (I am trying to avoid spoliers here) - The main thread that runs throughout the story of 'Catherine' is about heterosexual relationships (So on a seperate point (and I AM a heterosexual male by the way) - why the game does not allow or afford those who are not, a different way of approaching that story, I am not sure). From the beginning I was presented with the most wishy-washy, efeminate, walking disaster of a male - who (whilst not only being a full fledged alcoholic) had as much masculinity as an Amoeba. Okay, that might be a little 'Over the top'; but as much as I tried to relate to this character, the more I found myself being unable to. This, for me, was a huge problem and this links to the actual story:
  4. The story: The story seems to be trying to cover too many different ideas and themes, that have been thrown together; the result being an overcomplicated, at times boring, at times confusing, story that at the end had me actually skipping sections. That is a very rare thing for me to actually wish to do in a game. There is a sense of effort to be experienced in progressing through the game; and as I stated earlier, the cut-scenes are a large part of the reward system for doing so. Towards the end of the game I had lost any real interest or empathy with the main character (despite the choices I was making), which left a huge hole in the experience of the story, that the story itself was not actually able to compensate for.

Okay, phew! I think I have said enough. I am sure there are others who may totally disagree with what I have said above; but this was my own experience of the game. 

 

I really wanted to like 'Catherine' for all of those positive reasons I spoke about at the beginning of this review; but in the end, those negative aspects were just too strong and prominant to ignore or overlook. As always, I would recommend that you play the game for yourselves (as we all might get something different from each gameplay experience we have). Thank you for reading.

 

'Catherine' gets a 6/10 from this reviewer 

 

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ProGamerX56

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Great review once again, but I have to say this game is unessessarily sexual at timss

Re: Catherine

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Beer for anyone who remembers who I am. I've changed a lot, so I'm no longer that awkward immature teenager.
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Caragorn_007-11

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Thank you once again Pro-gamer. Actually this was also an area that added to the confused messages I received from the game. The presentation of the game leads you to believe that this is a game aimed at a much older demographic; and would deal with some more 'adult' themes. At the appropriate age level why should it not do so (and I am not actually saying it had to be explicit about that either); but this strong suggestion simply seems to fizzle out very quickly (I also have to say that in the context that I did not explore the other choice paths that the game would have given me in terms of the story). I actually felt disappointed by that; because the way that I experienced this game had led me to believe that it might push the boundaries a bit, instead it just eased back into comfortable 'day-time soap opera' territory.

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