Catherine Review

The most entertaining kick to the groin ever.

Catherine is not a game for the faint of heart. This infuriatingly difficult puzzle game has absolutely destroyed me, and yet for some unknown reason I keep returning to it, as if I am unbeknown to what is quite clearly Satan in the form of a video game. Catherine is a fascinating game because of how it engages the player. I was fascinated by the premise — Vincent struggles to engage in constructive conversations during romantic moments, leading into reenactments of these moments in thrilling nightmares — and how the story was moulded into what media and gamers cited as the most rage-inducing puzzle game to be released this generation.

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What Catherine Got Right

Moral Dilemmas – The moral system in Catherine isn’t driven by the traditional good vs bad scenario. Instead, the game relies on the way in which Vincent responds to certain situations — such as text messages from the two loves in his life, Catherine and Katherine. Vincent can either be a disciplined and ordered person, or he can be a chaotic and random person.

These decisions influence how Vincent reacts in cutscenes, and these scenes are reflected via the puzzles in Vincent’s dreams. There is a lot more to it here though, and there seems to be a very intricate and at-times increasingly intimidating moral decision system that has such an aggressive influence on the progression of the story.

Puzzles – The real action in Catherine begins when Vincent falls asleep. His nightmares act as maze’s of sorts; Vincent, dressed only in his nighttime attire, must push, pull and climb boxes to reach the exit at the top of the pile.

The game starts off easy enough, teaching you the ropes before it unleashes relentless fury. Catherine can get horrifically hard: the blood-soaked spikes and countless booby traps that plague each new nightmare provide what seems to be an impenetrable path to freedom.

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Every single puzzle you encounter is a tense, constantly moving race to the finish, as blocks and platforms below you collapse. You have to constantly be on the run, and as some puzzles need to be approached a few steps ahead, time is of extreme importance. The only problem is, you don’t have much of it.

Story – On its own, Catherine’s story is pretty run of the mill. The game follows Vincent, a soft-spoken fridget that has trouble communicating with people. He struggles to engage in constructive conversations during romantic moments throughout his days, and at night he reenacts these moments in thrilling nightmares.

These nightmares form the part of the game’s core puzzle mechanics, so yes, Catherine is a puzzle game at its core. But it’s how the game is molded around the story that is the most fascinating part of the experience. Environments reflect Vincent’s mentality, and the game reaches mind-numbing difficulty to reflect the direction of the narrative. It’s a highly stimulating and rewarding execution of a story.

What Catherine Got Wrong

Far too difficult – It’s hard to fault a puzzle game for being too tough, but this truly is a game that demands far too much of the player. Additional modes can only be unlocked after completing intimidatingly difficult achievements, something that may turn away people after a quick and challenging puzzler as opposed to an at-times near-impossible one. It doesn’t help that the camera can often lose the plot at the most important of times, complimented further by controls that can at-times be a little to stiff, feeding the game’s already intense difficulty.

The Final Verdict

What seems to be forcing me back to this game is its unique design. Its relentless ability to fuse a funny story with gameplay elements that are highly influential on how the plot plays out also has a pull on me. There’s a unique flavour that is so blatantly lacking in the industry and especially on consoles. Be sure to check out Catherine for an experience you won’t forget.

The most entertaining kick to the groin ever.

Catherine is not a game for the faint of heart. This infuriatingly difficult puzzle game has absolutely destroyed me, and yet for some unknown reason I keep returning to it, as if I am unbeknown to what is quite clearly Satan in the form of a video game. Catherine is a fascinating game because of how it engages the player. I was fascinated by the premise — Vincent struggles to engage in constructive conversations during romantic moments, leading into reenactments of these moments in thrilling nightmares — and how the story was moulded into what media and gamers cited as the most rage-inducing puzzle game to be released this generation.