Posted October 2, 2011

Catherine is a Puzzle/Adventure game published by Atlus. It was developed by the same team that did the recent Persona games. For those who haven’t played them they were turn based RPG’s based on high-school relationships, and would often go into serious issues. For example, they were featured on an episode of Extra Creditz for diving into issues around sexuality.

From that lineage, Catherine seeks to dive into questions around more adult relationships. Issues around freedom, marriage, fidelity, divorce, children and more are covered. These are areas where everyone struggles, where there are no right answers. Catherine, unlike any game I’ve played, forces the player to deal with real, grown-up problems.

The Game

You play the game from the perspective of Vincent, a software engineer, whose long-term relationship with his girlfriend Katherine is coming to a cross roads. She’s pressuring him about marriage and he wants things to stay the way they are. He heads out to drink one night with the guys, stays to drink alone, blacks out, and wakes up next to the curvacious woman of his dreams, Catherine.

Catherine's eyes
The cause of Vincent's troubles.

From there the game splits into 2 experiences. During the day you watch the story unfold and head to the bar to engage with the adventure elements. You talk to bar goers and answer texts from Katherine and Catherine. At night you’re trapped in a nightmare and forced to climb a series of block tower puzzles to survive. After each puzzle you are asked a question and shown what other people have answered.

My Experience

Catherine Confessional
The game asks both tough and silly questions in this room.

What you get from this game depends heavily on your own relationships. If you’ve never been in a long term relationship you may not relate to Vincent’s problems. I played this game with my wife and there were some tense moments.

Since she’s an avid gamer she watched me play the game. I was purposefully honest when I spoke to each girl and answered the questions. Many of my answers sparked discussion around topics we had never thought to talk about before. We were genuinely surprised by each others opinions.

As a result, Catherine will forever be one of the best games I’ve ever played. It’s a pivotal piece that asked questions of me that I needed to answer. Beyond that the puzzles are rewarding in a way that I didn’t expect.

It’s an important game and deserves more attention.