Of all the games to come out in the heyday of the PS3, few are as beloved as Catherine. It took the world by storm, placing itself in the hearts of fans all over the world. It is one of the most beloved anime games of all time.
Now, the re-release, Catherine: Full Body, is only a few weeks away from releasing in the US. So, with new things on the horizon, I decided to go back and take a look at the original version. My question was simple: is this game as good as I remember? Or will I look back on teenage me ranting about it to my dad in the game store and cringe even more than I already do?
Well… my opinion is odd. I do think this is a good game! However, my replay of the game helped me discover two things that I never realized before.
One: this game is stupid hard! Two: I only had fun with fifty percent of the game. Which, going by the educational curriculum of the United States, is a failing grade.
Please allow me to explain why before you come and burn my apartment down.
Story: The Cheater’s Curse
Friendly reminder: don’t cheat on your partner. As someone who has been cheated on before, I can say from experience that it really fucking sucks! Don’t do it.
Vincent Brooks has been dating his girlfriend, Katherine, for a long time. She’s beginning to grow impatient, waiting for him to finally tie the knot. But Vincent is understandably scared of making such a huge commitment. Then, as if he weren’t stressed enough, he finds himself in bed with a gorgeous blonde, named Catherine, and to top it all off: he is suffering from strange nightmares. Terrible dreams that are rumored to kill those who suffer from them.
The story is easily my favorite part of this game! The characters are all interesting with a decent amount of depth. Better yet, their arcs are entirely dependant on whether you’re going for a good, bad or neutral playthrough. Your choices feel genuinely important to the story and the characters within it.
Even if they ultimately boil down to ‘Choose your waifu or go to space’.
It also helps that the voice cast in both the Japanese and English versions are spectacular! Unfortunately, the performances are dragged down by lackluster audio quality at several points. Still, it is better in more spots than not, even if the lines lined with static are still pretty common.
The multiple paths of the story encourage replayability extremely well. Sure, you won’t get to experience the amazing late-game plot twists again. But gathering all of the different endings, while time-consuming, is very satisfying. Even if the game itself isn’t as good as I remember, the plot certainly is.
Visuals: Persona 5 Beta
I forgot that these were the guys that brought us Persona 5. So… I may be a little bit biased towards the visuals.
This game is still really fucking nice to look at to this day! The character models are very nice, even if the facial animations are a little rough. Each environment is very well detailed and nice to look at. The music, unsurprisingly, is absolutely incredible.
Simply put: this game looks good. Unfortunately, the anime doesn’t look nearly as good.
There are several traditional-anime cutscenes in this game. Some of them are very nice, with well-drawn characters and smooth animation. Unfortunately, several of them are stiff, extremely poorly drawn, and barely animated. Hell, the final fucking cutscene for the Katherine route is one of the worst looking scenes in the entire game! THAT’S THE ONE THAT SHOULD LOOK THE BEST!!
I guess the devs thought everyone would go with Catherine. Which, looking at her, I can’t deny their logic.
This game may not have the same refinement that Persona 5 would have. But it is an excellent first step leading to my favorite RPG of all time. It has certainly aged, but it still looks nice in gameplay moments.
Speaking of gameplay, brace yourself for this shit!
Gameplay: The Other Half
Here’s where the game falls apart for me. This is kind of a problem, considering that the game part of a video game is the most important part.
Catherine’s gameplay is divided into two segments. The first is simply walking around and talking to people between puzzles. This is a nice little break between the puzzles, as well as a nice way of giving more character details while keeping the player in charge. They’re very refreshing!
It’s the other half where this becomes infuriating.
The majority of the gameplay is spent on the puzzles. In concept, they’re very simple. You’re put on a tower of blocks, which are slowly falling away. You need to push and pull the blocks in order to rise to the top before you fall to your death. You have various blocks to make your life harder, a few occasional enemies running around to ruin your day, some items to make your life easier, and once every few levels: a boss fight.
These puzzles, especially the boss fights, are pretty fun! Looking around and figuring out what to do is very challenging and satisfying. Unfortunately, there is one major aspect that sucks all the fun away.
The controls fucking suck!
Did you mean to push that block, not jump on top of it? Too bad, you need to jump on and off of it twelve times before the game figures out what you want! Did you want to push that one block off the ledge rather than the one next to it? Too fucking bad, now you need to hit the undo button! Did you want to have fun? SHAME, NOW CONTINUE TO FIGHT THE CONTROLS FOR THE WHOLE FUCKING GAME!!
Now, this wouldn’t be a problem. All you need to do is hit the undo button (if you’re playing anything less than hard mode) and you’re fine. But here’s the thing: if you press the undo button a certain number of times, your total grade will go down! And if you want to unlock all the cool collectibles in the game, then you need to get gold awards for each level!
Which is basically impossible thanks to these shitty fucking controls!!
And then there are the boss fights. Oh my god, I hate these fuckers! Rather than test the abilities that you’ve been taught and homed throughout that set of levels, they throw some new bullshit mechanics at you out of nowhere! They have virtually no connection to the levels that you played beforehand!
Ugh… I want to like this game. This game should be fun! But thanks to those awful controls and less than stellar boss fights, I simply can’t bring myself to enjoy it! I love everything about this game except for the game itself!
It’s been a while since I’ve been so disappointed with a game I used to love. Nor have I been so divided! On one hand, I love the story and the visuals (excluding the mediocre anime cutscenes). On the other, the gameplay is marred down by a brutal grading system and god awful controls, which go hand-in-hand to making the challenging and fun puzzles completely infuriating!
If this game controlled well, I’d be able to get over my other problems. I’d be recommending this game to anyone reading! Unfortunately, the controls are just so fucking bad! To the point that playing it can be nigh impossible at times!
Maybe the new version will fix these problems. Maybe it’ll make them worse. Who knows? I’ll be sure to get back to you guys on that when I finish it. But something seriously makes me doubt it.
Please don’t burn me alive for hating your waifu game. We can still be friends!