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Import Review – Catherine/Katherine

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Damn I’m hooked on this game. I beat Catherine on Sunday, just in time for Killzone 3′s release this week on easy.  I think it might take up some of my Killzone time even though  Cliffy B said that he wanted Bulletstorm to “F wit peoples Killzone game.”  I digress, Catherine is unique enough to distract any gamer that would give it a chance.

Girls gone Crazy

In some ways it was funny that I couldn’t clear this game on normal (forget hard).  Yea you heard that right – the puzzle stages in this game is flicking hard.  If you go at it without cheating (getting help online) it will put up a good challenge.  The feeling of completing these puzzles on your own, is second to none.  Catherine is really stands out.  Obviously, if you’re into puzzle games, then this game will do you good.  The game focuses around Vincent who has been dating his girl, Katherine for about 5 years; she confronts him early on about getting married and points out that they are getting old (he’s 32, lol, this hit home for me)  and it introduces all kinds of insane scenarios as he comes across another girl, who happens to be his “type” (body, build, character, etc) but she has the same name “Catherine”. Let me say this about “Catherine”, think about that movie “Single White Female”.  I cant’ say anything else because the game has a series of plot twists and I would only give it away but overall she is the main antagonist.  It was like watching an anime that you controlled.   In terms of presenting the story, the game will jump between in game and animated cut scenes but in my mind they could have done the whole game with in-game cut scenes.  The strong focus on story might put off some but it was a welcome to engage with Characters that you actually cared about.

Is it an RPG?

People are saying that this game is an rpg but I don’t think that it is one through and through.  One of the rare RPG elements I found in the game is the ability to choose an answer if someone asked you a question directly/indirectly; your answers weigh in your personality, and your personality gauge affect how people react around you; which ultimately changes your ending for the game.  There are several endings so it gives the game replay value outside the additional challenge stages, and two player modes you open up later on.  There are no towns; just a bar you meet up with your friends to drink and talk about life, a restaurant that you take your gf to, your room, and the stages. If you’re looking for something on a grander scale, this is not that game.

In the bar, you can talk to customers and try to help them solve daily problems that they are having in their life or hit up the jukebox and listen to throwbacks from the Persona games (with hip hop mixes, I know you all like that). in some ways i felt like the game could have been a dlc but I guess with all the multiple paths, a large download wouldn’t cut it.  You also get confronted by an inquisitor at the start of each stage; that  was funny because he asks you really messed up questions about relationships (and they are never the same!! lol) so you can’t “cheat” (ha).  like “would you sleep on the floor or on the bed if your girl is in a mood?” (had me rolling).  These also have a stronger affect the ending.

The actual meat of the game is perhaps the puzzles/nightmares that you have to go through. Simply put, you have to make an escape using stone cubes to help you climb to your freedom.  This starts off simply by moving blocks in and out, left and right, and creating steps on a 3D plane.  Things get interesting as the game will start to introduce enemies, heavy blocks, blocks with traps, exploding blocks (which can damage nearby blocks), unmovable blocks, and others.  You are able to pick up powerup items like the cola drink which makes you climb multiple blocks, a magical tome which gives you one chance to cast a lighting spell to kill off nearby enemies that can either kill you, or make it difficult for your escape.  Once you clear the initial areas in the game, you will face off with a boss in a sort of a speed challenge that has all the elements of that stage (exploding blocks etc). Some of these are down right insanity but others can be very simple.

Westernize it?

It’s funny that Atlus is playing hush-hush about westernizing this game  because the majority of the game is already in english (menus, etc) and all character names are english; Tobi, Johnny, Vincent, … well except Midnight Venus.  At the same, I find the situation, though comparable to any love triangle in the world, lend more Japanese culture.  Perhaps the presentation is to blame and maybe things would change if/when it was westernized.  Even though the game might translate well over here, I have a feeling gamers would get bored of the cut scenes; this game has a strong focus on story (unlike killzone 3).  Additionally, since this game takes place in the Persona Universe, the characters have that look and feel and that’s a good thing. Boss Puzzles are also drastically interesting and really change things up.  They are both interesting and challenging.

You can’t control me!

At times though I feel that the challenge in game comes too much from your inability to execute specific commends. Simple mistakes like, “I thought I press left but my character went right” will cause your demise, and in some cases restarting a stage. Not being able to clear areas in stages quickly will also adversely affect your stage results if you are going for a Gold Midnight Venus statue.  Essentially, you can only get those if you are able to clear the stages quickly and maintaining an upward ascending motion without letting your step meter end too often. The step meter will track how often you create and climb a step, you have a limited time till you climb the next step; the more you do, the higher the meter and your score.  When you do clear the game, there’s also a two player and a challenge mode that will be made available to you.  Overall a great game. If Atlus get there act together and releases it here in the west, an option to keep the original audio soundtrack with subtitles would be nice.