CatherineCatherine is a puzzle-platformer adventure video game developed by Atlus Persona Team and published by Atlus for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is Atlus' first internally developed game for seventh-generation consoles in high definition, and is described as an "adult-oriented" title by the game's character designer, Shigenori Soejima. The cinematic portion of the game is handled by Studio 4°C. The game was released in Japan on February 17, 2011, and in North America on July 26, 2011. Deep Silver released the game in Europe on February 10, 2012. It was also released in Australia on February 23, 2012. Catherine was later released as a full downloadable game for the PlayStation Store in February 2012 and came out on the Games on Demand service for the Xbox 360 in April 2012.
Catherine PlotThe game begins with a framing device: Trisha, the Midnight Venus, hosts a television program called the Golden Playhouse, which will this evening relate the tale of a man named Vincent Brooks. The events of the show form the gameplay proper, which is sometimes rendered with a watermark in the corner.
In the neighborhood in which Vincent lives, there have recently been a number of bizarre incidents in which people die in their sleep with a look of anguish upon their faces. Strangely enough, all of the victims are young men. The story quickly spreads throughout the media, attracting widespread attention and theories as to the cause of death. A strange rumor begins to spread that if a person dreams of falling, then they must wake up before they hit the ground or they will be unable to wake up at all and will die.
Vincent is at a restaurant contemplating marriage to Katherine McBride, his lover of five years, who starts pressuring him to get married. That night at The Stray Sheep, the bar he frequents with his friends Jonny, Orlando and Toby, he meets a beautiful and mysterious woman named Catherine. Although there are many vacant seats, she sits next to Vincent and turns out to be exactly his type. The two end up spending the night together at Vincent's house.
After meeting Catherine, Vincent begins to have nightmares every single night, which he believes may be related to the rumors. In these dreams, he and several other men, who appear to each other as sheep, must escape from various horrors trying to kill them, for if they die in their dreams, they will die in reality. As dreams and reality begin to blend together, Vincent must not only fight to survive, but must choose between Katherine and Catherine. Katherine increases the pressure by revealing that her period is late and that she believes herself pregnant, while Catherine manages to arrange to be in Vincent's bed almost every morning, despite his not remembering having invited her over. A further complication arrives in the form of phone calls from a man named Steve, who defines himself as the boyfriend of Katherine/Catherine and threatens retribution upon Vincent. However, neither of Vincent's girlfriends know a man named Steve, and Steve's description of his girlfriend does not match either of the women Vincent is involved with.
After a week of unrelenting nightmares, Vincent finally decides to break off his tryst with Catherine. The next morning, he awakens without nightmares and without Catherine by his side, but she suddenly appears in his room when Katherine comes to visit. After a heated exchange between the two women, Catherine attempts to stab Katherine with a kitchen knife, but ends up being impaled herself. Vincent shoos Katherine out, trying to protect her, but the two find themselves trapped in another puzzle maze, and Vincent must escort her out, reaffirming that his heart belongs to her. However, when he wakes up from this nightmare, Katherine has no recollection of the events, and confronts Vincent on the infidelity she knows he has been hiding from her. She also admits that her pregnancy was a false alarm, and that Vincent's reactions did not increase her confidence in him. Politely but firmly, she breaks up with him. Finally, Vincent, bemoaning his troubles to Orlando, discovers that all of Catherine's contact information and SMS messages (including several revealing photographs) have inexplicably disappeared from his phone. This leads his friends to admit that none of them have ever met or seen her, and causes him to doubt his sanity.
Vincent, seeking evidence that Catherine exists, remembers that the only other person he ever heard her speak to: the bartender of The Stray Sheep, Thomas "Chop" Mutton, who accidentally reveals himself to be the orchestrator of the entire recurring-nightmare situation. "Catherine" is a succubus working with him, who takes the form of each man's fantasy woman, to tempt him into cheating. If the man is tempted, Mutton uses the arcade machine Rapunzel to plant a seed in their memories which can transport them to the nightmare world, in which they climb a tower constructed by Ishtar. The purpose of doing so is both to punish them for their sins, and also to remove them from women with whom they have no intent of reproduction, freeing up those females for the "good of the species." Vincent makes a deal with him to return voluntarily to the nightmare landscape and climb the final levels of the tower, in return for which Mutton will release all other captive men. Depending on the player's previous choices, Vincent may also request one last meeting with Catherine or Katherine.
Catherine GameplayCatherine is a puzzle-platformer adventure game in which players control Vincent Brooks, who begins having strange nightmares after his girlfriend, Katherine, begins to talk about marriage and commitment. This matter becomes more complicated for him when he meets a girl named Catherine, and begins an affair with her, and the nightmares get more and more intense. The main story mode, Golden Playhouse, follows the story between Daytime and Nightmare scenarios. During the daytime, Vincent will converse with his friends as well as try to handle his relationships with Catherine and Katherine. Most of this time takes place in the Stray Sheep bar where Vincent can save and send text messages from his mobile phone, talk to customers, order drinks, play a minigame titled Rapunzel or listen to a jukebox containing tracks from other Atlus games such as the Persona series.
The main gameplay takes place in the Nightmare stages. In a nightmarish dreamworld inhabited by other men, who are represented as anthropomorphic sheep, Vincent must climb up giant staircases that are slowly collapsing underneath him and safely reach the top. To accomplish this, Vincent must push, pull and climb blocks as quickly as possible while avoiding various traps such as spikes and ice. Climbing up steps in quick succession increases a score multiplier, and at the end of the level, players are given an award based on their score. Each stage is split up into numerous areas, culminating in a boss stage in which a nightmarish creature also attempts to kill Vincent. Vincent can move faster depending on how much he drinks during the day and can earn pillows that allow him to retry levels. There are also several items which can be found or purchased in between stages, such as spare blocks, lightning which removes enemies and energy drinks that allow Vincent to climb more steps at a time. Vincent will die if he falls off the bottom of the level, gets caught by a trap or is killed by a boss, with the game ending if Vincent runs out of retry pillows. In between action stages, Vincent can interact with the other sheep, save his game, learn techniques or spend coins on special items. When playing on easy and normal difficulty, players can push the Select/Back button to correct a single block move.
Throughout the game, the choices the player makes during certain sections of the game will affect the development of Vincent's character and the route the story takes place. This is represented by a morality meter, which can change in several ways, such as how Vincent types out a text message to one of the girls, how he answers certain questions and how he converses with non-playable characters. The game features multiple endings based on the route Vincent takes, and has over twenty hours of gameplay. In addition to the Golden Playhouse mode, Babel Mode features four large stages playable with up to two players, while Vs Colosseum features two players simultaneously playing a stage in order to reach the top first.
ReceptionCatherine received critical acclaim, with average aggregate scores of 83.00% and 78.04% for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, respectively, on GameRankings and 82 and 79 out of 100 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, respectively, on Metacritic. In an import review, GamesRadar gave the game a 5/10, praising the story but criticizing the game's difficulty due to random enemy AI, though they later gave the English release 8/10, citing crucial changes had removed most of the game's annoyances. Some Japanese gamers have complained that the game is too difficult, even on the easy setting. Atlus has since released a patch that includes a Super Easy mode, which is included in the English version. IGN gave the North American version of Catherine an overall score of 9.0. Computer and Video Games gave the game an 8.0. Tom Bissell of Grantland.com, the sports and pop culture website owned by ESPN and run by Bill Simmons, was pleasantly surprised by the game and gave it a very positive review, which included a listing of its eerie qualities.[5
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