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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.

The dream portion of the game is were the puzzle element begins to kick in. In each nightmare, the player’s main goal is to get Vincent to climb to the top of the tower by avoiding obstacles, pulling and shifting square blocks in order to make a path and to avoid the murderous nightmare sheep who wish to take you to your DOOM! Each night of puzzles has anywhere from 1 to five stages with the final stage of the night being a boss stage where Vincent has to try and escape that night’s nightmare creature without getting killed. As you progress through these levels, you will come across various power ups that you can use to help make your scale to the top a little easier. You can only hold one power up at a time so use them carefully.

Once you make it through a stage you receive a specific amount of points based on your performance. These points will help to calculate your score for your night’s exploits on that particular level. The player can receive three different prizes for their performance. These prizes are a Bronze, Silver, or Gold statue. Gold is the highest prize a player can obtain in the game and Bronze is the lowest.

In order to gain score points during the player’s ascend, they will have to collect the various piles of gold that are scattered throughout a stage and maintain a hasty ascend as they make their way up the tower. A big portion of the points that a player can garner is associated with the speed which they are able to climb and the faster that they are able to go as they make it through the level. As the player climbs, they will be able to see their progress on a bar that is on the left side of the screen. At the beginning of a level, this bar will be clear/white but as time passes on level blocks will fall away into the abyss one row at a time. These falling rows are indicated by the white bar on the screen slowly turning black. This bar helps give players an idea of the pace that they will need to ascend in order to achieve a passing score. When you are ascending at a significant rate, there is another bar that shines on the right-hand side of the screen. That bar is the player’s chain bar which will continue to multiply as long as you are moving up a level on a given stage at a steady pace. Once the player loses this pace, their multiplier will go away and their points that they earned will be added to their score. At times the scoring mechanic in the game can be quite brutal but as you progress through the game, it does become easier to gauge the proper pace of ascent.

In between certain stages the players have a nightmare waiting area where they can walk around and talk to the various sheep in order to positively or negatively affect their Karma gauge. The in-game Karma gauge has two varying points (Red for Chaos and Blue for Law). This Gauge pops up at various points in the game to indicate when Vincent is making decisions that are being influenced by his Karma path. These decisions typically change the thoughts that Vincent is having in his head during a given cutscene and also changes the verbal responses that he gives to other characters that he interacts with. While Vincent is in this Waiting Area, he can talk to various sheep that he comes across. These interactions can help to teach the players new strategies that could help them learn new techniques which will help them in their ascent of this nightmare tower, buy power ups that could make there ascent easier, or mess with the sheep minds to lower their chances of surviving in this dreamscape. Upon the player’s arrival to this area, they will also have the option to save their progress from their most recent ascent or load data from a previous save point. In order to proceed past the Waiting area, the player will have to enter a confessional where they will get to talk to one of the masterminds behind your terrific nightmare experience. The player gets this opportunity each time that they have the chance to ascend and during these interactions the player gets a small glimpse into what is really going on in this nightmare world. Before advancing from the confessional, the player will be asked a question which they will choose between two possible answers. The answer that the players selects can positively or negatively affect the player’s Karma gauge, so be cautious in your response. A nice side note is that once you make your Karma choice, you are presented with a poll of what other players selected during their gameplay experience. After this response, the player will then ascend to the next frightful stage of their nightmare.

The subject matter of this game is something that is adult themed and many of the visuals in the game can get rather graphic, so I would strongly advise for players interested in playing be at least 17 or older. This game could easily take 80 - 100 hours to fully complete, but the main story can likely be completed within 15 – 25 hours depending on the players level of skill. The visuals are nicely presented, and the cinematic scenes are done in a quality that you would find in a good anime. The musical score amplifies the game’s experience and the game’s story is rather gripping. Both a gamepad or Keyboard & Mouse can be used, so you can play with whatever option you prefer. I really enjoyed my experience with Catherine Classic and I am glad that I have finally had the chance to experience this game. I would recommend this to players who are looking for a challenging/difficult puzzle game experience but are also interested in watching a good story unfold. It has a unique style of gameplay that I haven’t really seen in other games and the mechanics really meld well with this game’s experience. Catherine Classic is available on Steam, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. There is also a fully remastered version called “Catherine Full Body”, that has updated gameplay mechanics, new characters, endings, cutscenes, and an all-new love interest that gets entangled in Vincent’s twisted tale. Unfortunately, this edition has not made it to other platforms as of yet but hopefully it does some time in the future. Below I have listed the prices for Catherine Classic on the currently available platforms.

Retail Prices – Steam – $19.99

PS3 - $14.99

XBOX 360 – $ 9.99

Catherine Full Body PS4 – $ 59.99

Catherine Full Body “Heart’s Desire” Premium Edition PS4 – $79.99

If you feel like you could handle more of this love ensnared tale, then you could also try to read the two graphic novels that were released for this game. These novels were only released in Japan so you will either have to be able to read Japanese or find a good English translation of them online.

As I mentioned earlier in this review, there are not too many other games that I have played that are similar to Catherine Classic. However, I would suggest watching the Anime Parasyte the maxim due to the narrative’s story focusing on other aspects of the human condition in a similar fashion to the events that unfolded in Catherine. In regard to a game, if possible, I would suggest playing Asura’s Wrath if you have an XBOX 360 or a PlayStation 3 due to the gameplay presentation being similar to what was presented in this game.

Now that all of that has been said I will have to leave you with an adieu. Thank you for reading this review, I hope you found it helpful and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Live to Game another day.

For more of my reviews, you can find me on Steam and right here on Sinical Network.

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