Catherine Review: This Temptress Broke My Heart - Catherine - Xbox 360 -
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Catherine Review: This Temptress Broke My Heart

Let me tell you about this girl I met at the bar the other night. Just stunning, totally gorgeous, you know? And unique. She does things I’ve never seen another girl do. She’s deep, too. She makes me think about relationships and commitment and all these topics I don’t normally tackle in my line of work. Sounds like a girl worth falling in love with, right? But despite all of these assets, Catherine is a killer. She’ll wreck you if you let her.

Catherine (the game) has more in common with main character Vincent than its namesake. It’s divided from within, torn between two loves. On one hand, Catherine immerses players in drawn-out anime cutscenes that reveal a middle-aged man stuck in a dramatic love triangle. Heady subject matter and tough questions abound, shaping players’ experience around a scale that measures their personality between law (living what society considers a regular life) and chaos (living based on personal whims and desires).

These lengthy narrative sequences are broken up by "Nightmare" levels where Vincent has to push blocks around in order to climb up an endless tower. As you first learn the strange rules of this fast-paced, arcade gameplay, these portions seem inoffensive, though not particularly engaging. But with each new night that passes, Vincent is forced to confront more difficult and lengthier puzzles.

Frustration and frequent deaths await as you desperately claw your way toward the next group of cutscenes and non-dream gameplay. Finally figuring out how to survive a horrific boss encounter after 20-some deaths never grants you a sense of accomplishment, only relief at the temporary reprieve. The dialogue and character development are less fun when tinged with the dreadful knowledge that more block puzzles are in your future.

My fleeting happy memories of Catherine will always be poisoned by soul-crushing thoughts of what could have been. In its first in-house-developed HD release, Atlus has crafted something rare and wonderful, a video game that is about so much more than killing people. But the potential impact of this experience is weakened considerably by the block puzzles, segments so shamelessly gamey and out-of-place in the narrative that they include a score tally and reward medals based on your performance.

Sadly, even the story of Catherine doesn’t pay off entirely. While I was fully wrapped up in the trials of Vincent and his handful of friends, the game’s "morality scale" is mostly affected via simple two-choice questions that are asked at the end of every puzzle area – thoughtful queries such as, "Does life begin or end at marriage?" These inquiries provide plenty of food for thought, but it’s strange that the plot (which features eight different endings) is determined by these questions rather than by in-game decisions Vincent makes.

The result of answering Catherine’s queries truthfully – my reward for conquering every one of the game’s devious puzzles – was one of the worst possible endings. Maybe Vincent’s choices corresponded accurately to my personality, but it was a bummer receiving a bad ending and knowing that I’d have to replay the 12-15 hour game to see something better. Like a relationship that’s going nowhere, Catherine has a few bright spots that will make you want to hold on, but it never quite gives back as much as you put into it.

User Reviews:

  • 8.50
    Review can also be found at Catherine Mental Blockage Developed by Atlus Persona Team Published by Atlus for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 Released July 26, 2011 Finding a solid puzzle game interspersed with an intriguing tale of lost love is about...
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  • 9.00
    Something completely different than anything I've seen in a while. With all the watered down fps's on the market and things we've seen before here comes Cathrine. From the creators of the Persona series, a true gem. I would go into detail but if you like puzzle games and want something different...
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  • 2.00
    I wonder Why Game Developers are making games like this, Wow Romantic Horror . That genre doesnt seam very authentic in 2011 . It is rediculas sorry a t lus , you can move your Romantic horror games on to miniclip or something like that, make a Romantic Horror movie. This Review was Writen and posted...
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  • 7.50
    Catherine Review Kid Safe: Very Low (1.0 / 10) Game Quality: High (7.5 / 10) Genre: Sim Puzzler - This game focuses on two major types of gameplay. The first, simulation, focuses on the controlling of a single character must confront people and objects in a realistic setting and decide how to deal with...
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  • 8.00
    let me start out by saying that im not a puzzle person, that said i liked the game a lot even with the increasing difficulty starting to feel lie an ex girlfriend with your nuts in her hand slowly turning you into a screaming little girl. the game has it's fun points and even get's addictive...
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  • 9.50
    This game is nearly perfect on so many levels. It is unique.It has a great story with great dynamic characters, and the graphic and art design for them and the environments are amazing! The soundtrack is put together by the main man who did our lovely Persona titles so you should know what to expect...
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