Atlus delivers another great story with unique gameplay that explores deep, emotional aspects of life and love.

User Rating: 9.5 | Catherine X360
Catherine is a game which truly surprised me. First, the story was much deeper and more thought-provoking than I expected. It had its funny moments, but some of the questions really made me think. The majority of the gameplay involves climbing towers of blocks as the bottom falls out beneath you. If it sounds boring and easy, it certainly isn't. Different types of blocks are added often to keep you on your toes, and some sections and boss fights are pretty tough. That being said, once you get the hang of it and learn some (extremely helpful) techniques, the puzzling tower climbs become a lot more fun and manageable. The music, sound-effects, and voice acting in the game are also outstanding in my opinion, as are the anime cut-scenes that happen fairly often.

The game Catherine is split up into two major parts: the daytime when you meet and interact with characters in the real world as the protagonist, Vincent Brooks, and the night when he must climb towers of blocks. Vincent seems like a fairly average guy, who has a girlfriend of several years, a small group of guy friends he spends nights drinking with at the local bar when stressed, and a normal job. The day is spent in the bar talking to Vincent's group of friends and the other customers, playing an arcade game, and answering texts from Katherine (Vincent's girlfriend) or Catherine (a girl he meets unexpectedly at the bar one night). One of the coolest parts of the game is how you choose the text options. Each line you pick gives different choices for the next few lines and determines the responses you receive, if any. It may seem simple, but it gives the game a much more personal feel that I really like.

At night, you guide Vincent through nightmares where he has to climb a tower of (mostly) movable blocks before the bottom of the tower falls and Vincent is taken with it to his death. This part of the game can be quite challenging at first- my first time through I played most of it on easy- but once you get the hang of it, beating the puzzles is very rewarding. To me, when a game is too easy, there isn't much satisfaction in beating it, so I prefer a bit of a challenge.

I liked how the meter in the game (determined by your actions and decisions) was not as simple as good versus evil with incredibly obvious choices. With some of the questions you can't tell which side it will be. In my first play-through I answered everything honestly, and not all of my answers pushed the meter in the same direction.

The story starts with Vincent finding out about a mysterious death when a guy is found in the morning inexplicably dead. This news worries Vincent due to the horrifying dream he had the night before, which he can't completely remember. In the meantime, stress is building up to a breaking point in his own life as his longtime girlfriend begins to push marriage and starting a family while a new girl he accidentally ends up with is suddenly flirting with him and trying to become a part of his life, too. The normally good guy begins to feel out of control and is initially torn between the two women, not able to be honest with either of them. As more deaths keep cropping up each morning, rumors and fear spread like wildfire, and every night Vincent dreads going to sleep to face his nightmares again.

Aside from the main story, there is also a mode called Babel where you can unlock increasingly difficult timed puzzles with an online leaderboard that you can play solo or with a friend. This part is more difficult than the towers you have to climb in the story, but playing with a friend locally is very fun. It can be stressful, though, so be careful not to let it get too intense. If you'd rather compete than cooperate, there is also a competitive mode to climb against a friend at the same time.

Whether you like challenging and addictive puzzles, interesting and deep stories that make you think about your own opinions and life, or simply games that are unique, Catherine is absolutely worth picking up.