Counting sheep will never be the same again…
One of the best things about Catherine is the beautifully crafted dichotomy between the nightmare world and the real world. The subtle absurdities of Vincent’s mundane nights of drinking at the bar are exaggerated fantastically in his nightmares, making the switch between Vincent’s states of consciousness all the more interesting. In addition, playing Rapunzel (a visually simplified version of the block-climbing game mechanic intended to allow you to refine your climbing skills and technics while at the bar) gives you a distinct feeling of deja vu, which is surely part of the game designers‘ intent. The game’s anime visual style aids this dichotomy as well, as does the sublime use of classical music during the game’s nightmare sequences. The only thing sorely missed is the ability to change the audio track to Japanese…though the English voice-acting is by no means bad, knowing anime fans, they are sure to be disappointed.
Getting gold rankings in the main story campaign will unlock levels in the Babel game mode. Babel involves free-style climbing to set Step records and post them on an online leaderboard. Babel can be played either single-player or co-op, which is all the more challenging. You’ll have no problem unlocking the first Babel area, however getting them all is another thing entirely. When in the bar (in story mode), Vincent can use his phone to save or to access previous levels…so you can re-attempt any level you’ve completed but getting a gold ranking will require alot of dedication and a dash of pure luck.
If you complete the story campaign (referred to in the game as the Golden Playhouse) you can unlock yet another mode known as Colosseum. This mode allows for competitive multiplayer, as you try to out-climb your opponent through skill, gamesmanship or any other underhanded tactics you can concoct. This mode sounds fun but does not paint Catherine’s game mechanic in the best light. Nevertheless, people worried that Catherine does not pack enough value to merit a purchase, fear not because the game’s storyline alone is more intriguing and mature than the majority of games available on the market today…and that’s quite a feat in itself.
There will be people who won’t want to buy into such a game, and that’s fine. Not all games are for everyone…however, it’s hard to imagine anyone buying into Catherine’s unique gaming experience and not enjoying it. Yes it’s just a puzzle game and sure it can be frustratingly difficult, but Catherine’s mature sense of humor, intriguing storyline and challenging gameplay make it another fantastic contribution to gaming from the good people of Japan.