A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Catherine is a violent and sexually charged relationship simulation/block puzzle game. Players split their time between daytime sequences in which a 32-year-old man finds himself caught between his pregnant girlfriend and a mysterious vixen, and evening nightmares in which he must shift blocks to climb a tower so as to avoid bloody, gruesome death at the hands of monsters and sadistic traps. Social drinking and smoking play a heavy role in the story, too. This game is not intended nor is it appropriate for younger players.
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What's it about?
Vincent is a man with serious woman problems in CATHERINE, a Japanese romance adventure game presented in anime style. Our hero spends his days dealing with his loving girlfriend, a professional woman named Katherine who wants to get married, and a mistress who appears out of the blue with the improbably similar name Catherine. His relationship quandaries take surprisingly violent shape at night, when he has nightmares that see him climbing a series of seemingly never-ending towers by sliding blocks into position to become stairways. One misstep or wrong move and he could be eviscerated by a trap or torn apart by giant monsters chasing him from below.
Is it any good?
As bizarre as the setup may seem, Catherine is a surprisingly polished and compelling experience. The story explores the well-trodden ground of a man afraid of commitment in an unusual way by making him deal with his indecisiveness in life-threatening nightmares. It doesn’t hurt that players get to enjoy some truly clever (and twisted) block puzzle action along the way.
That said, it suffers a few notable issues. The movement controls for the puzzle sections can be both finicky and unintuitive, and the decisions that players make often affect the game’s morality meter in unpredictable ways (when asked whether we preferred older or younger romantic partners we chose older, only to see the meter pointer move toward the red “devil” side). However, mature players who enjoy challenging puzzle games and like a grown-up story that tackles adult problems should be well served.
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