Catherine Classic - In-depth Review

This is the forth night that I have been trapped in these horrible nightmares full of talking rams and a dark abyss. All I can do is climb. Do you have what it takes to escape this endless nightmare?

It is time for us to enter the second circle of hell as we try to climb our way out of Developer Atlus’s nightmare riddled hell-verse of “Catherine Classic”. Will we be able to climb to our salvation or fall into a pit of endless turmoil? With our pleasantries out of the way, let’s get started.

In the words of Catherine “I'll give you... five seconds! If you don't answer me, I'll kill you! One.. Two... Threeeeee... Fouuuuur... Fiiiiiive...”.

Catherin Classic is a Horror, Platforming, Puzzle game where you control Vincent, a poorly paid computer programmer that is struggling to see the direction that he wants to go in life. He is currently in a relationship with Katherine his loyal and steadfast girlfriend. She is hoping to advance her relationship with Vincent and enter the arena of Holy Matrimony side by side. However, Vincent is not sure that he wants to go down this road and fears where this next big step in their relationship will take them. His position becomes even more complicated once he runs into the Oh-So-Tempting allure of the lustful Catherine who does not believe in falling into the strings of Marital commitment, but rather acting upon spur of the moment wants/desires. Meanwhile, there have been a recent slew of unexplained deaths that are rumoured to be the result of a vengeful sorceress that is cleansing Japan of any man that decides to walk down the path of indecisiveness. Thus, Vincent is thrown into a series of seemingly endless nightmares that if he happens to die in, will permanently end his existence.

When I initially started this game, I was not sure exactly what to expect from this game in regard to the game’s narrative. One of the initial things that caught my interest about this game was the displays/claims of this game’s complex and difficult puzzle style game play (Which let me assure you that this game does not fail to deliver on). However, upon starting this games Golden Palace (Story Mode) it became clear that the game’s narrative was a pivotal part of the game’s experience. The story of the game is told in the style of an Anime with Cutscenes that are displayed in the quality of a well-funded anime series. As I progressed through this horrific tale, I became more and more enamored with the game’s narrative to the point that I could not see the gameplay experience being the same without the game’s story. Thinking back on it, the game’s story presentation reminds me of the game Asura’s Wraith but unlike that game, I find that Catherine Classic has a better balance of gameplay/story narrative; which does make it relatively easy to get immersed in the game.

On the opening screen of this game, players are presented with three tabs which include Golden Theatre, Babel, and Configuration. The Golden Theatre throws players right into the game’s Main Story, Babel give the player the option to test their skills in a single or Cooperative experience, and Configuration allows players to adjust the game’s various in game settings. Under the game’s configurations tab, players are presented with five sub-tabs which include Display, Graphics, Audio Game, and Input. Under the Display tab, players can view/adjust their Adapter (Graphics Card), adjust the game’s resolution (from 640 X 480 to 1920 X 1080), Display modes (Borderless, Windowed, and Fullscreen), and can turn the game’s Vsync settings On/Off. Under the Graphics tab players can adjust the game’s Depth of Field, Bloom, Blur and Anti-Aliasing with On/Off settings. In the Audio tab players can select their Audio Device, and adjust their Master, Sound FX, Music, Dialogue, Cinematic, and Environment volume settings. From the Game tab, players can adjust vibration, Invert camera X, Invert Camera Y, Pad Sensitivity, Mouse Sensitivity, Cinematic Language, and subtitles. The game’s language setting can be in both Japanese or English but the game’s subtitles are only available in English. Last, the Input settings tab players can adjust their keyboard and mouse controls as well as the controls for a game pad controller. Both control methods are smooth, and I find it nice to have the option to work with one or the other.

The Game’s Babel mode can only be accessed once the player receives a gold ranking on the required stage on normal or higher difficulty so it is safe to say that you will likely not play that mode until you complete the game’s main story (trust me, it is going to take some practice before you get this mode up and running). This mode has a total of four varying stages (Altar, Menhir, Obelisk, and Axis Mundi) that will require the player to unlock at least 9 Golden rankings to acquire all four stages. Once these stages are unlocked, the player will be able to play through each stage in rapid succession until they reach the tower’s top. Each time the player plays on one of these towers, they are presented with a different arrangement of blocks that appear to hamper the player’s ascent. This makes this mode one of the most difficult modes in the game due to this stage solely relying on skill rather than simply memorizing a pattern.

Once the player begins The Golden Theatre, they are fully embarking through the story of the game. This game has three game difficulties which include Easy, Normal, and Hard. Easy mode is made for you to enjoy the events of the story as they unfold, Normal is made to give players a more engaging/entertaining gameplay experience, and Hard mode is made to be a hellacious ordeal that puts your puzzle solving abilities to the test. Regardless of the difficulty level that you choose, you are likely going to run into some level of difficulty playing on each. Fair reminder, this is not an easy game, it is actually quite difficult. Each difficulty mode has their own puzzle pattern that varies from stage to stage. The higher the difficulty in the game, the more complexed the puzzles are to solve, and the more techniques players will have to master. If you are willing to fight your way through a series of elaborate climbing-based puzzles then you rewarded with the satisfaction that you have the skills to pay the bills. This game is not for the faint of heart and if that is you, then drop out now.

In regard to actual gameplay, Typically, players are presented with a series of in game scenes until they are offered the chance to make Positive or Negative Karma related decisions that will have an effect on the events in the game’s story. This game’s gameplay can be divided up into four sections (The Bar, The Nightmare waiting floor, The Main Nightmare Puzzles, and a Rapunzel style arcade game). Three of these sections are main sections in this game and the other is a style of practice/minigame.

In the bar setting of the game, Vincent can interact with his friends and random people that you meet throughout the game. During these meetings, you can give people advice, get insight into what is going on in the world, and receive power ups that can help you improve your odds in the game’s main puzzle challenges. Remember this is a decision-based game that can be drastically influenced based on the decisions of the player, which will affect the route that this story takes. While you are in this section of the game, you will receive calls from both Katherine (your girlfriend) and Catherine (the tempting temptress). You will have the option to answer or ignore them as you receive their text. At certain points in the game sequence, Catherine can send you various photos of herself that the player can only view in the bar’s restroom stalls. Having access to Vincent’s phone in this area also gives the player the options to save/load in game progress and to revisit Nightmare puzzle sequences that the player wants to receive a higher ranking on. As the player walks around this area, they will have the option to get drinks from the bar, which will allow them to increase their intoxication levels and learn trivia about the alcohol they are consuming. The higher Vincent’s intoxication level, the faster Vincent can move in the dream world (this can be quite helpful in trying to increase your overall score for each level and it adds an additional level of depth that complements the gameplay experience nicely). The player could also adjust the game’s music at the jukebox or try to pull out money at the ATM that is in the Bar. The songs that are available in the in game in game jukebox represent specific achievements in the game that the player can unlock. There are a total of 50 achievements in this game with about seventeen achievements being story related and 33 that require for player to complete specific task throughout their game play experience.

One of the last things that I am going to mention about the game’s Bar area is that this is also where the player can try their hand at the Rapunzel style arcade game machine. This area of the game is a style of practice/minigame that players can try to solve as they progress through the game. The puzzle element that is inside of the Rapunzel game is vary similar to many of the puzzles that you play through in each night’s nightmare. This game is obviously a lot more simplistic that some of the game’s main challenges, but it does help to give players the opportunity to try and further improve their puzzle solving abilities. This mode has around 128 levels and they progressively increase in difficulty as the player makes their way through each level. The main game gives the player a total of three attempts to play this minigame each night. Once the player dies in an attempt, they lose an attempt for that night’s play session. Several of the puzzles that you come across in this mode can get quite tricky, but it is definitely enjoyable to see how far you can make it in this side challenge. Once you leave the Bar area, you will return home to experience your new night’s terrifying array of dreams.