Atlus have a great reputation as an RPG developer, thanks to series such as Persona and Shin Megami Tensei. So many expected that Catherine would follow suit – however, they have gone for an action-platformer with a puzzle twist. Luckily for both you guys and me, Atlus gave a tech demo to whet our appetites, so let’s take a sneaky peak into a rather exciting game.
Atlus showed off the first two levels, the first boss fight, as well as the multiplayer option, that only becomes fully unlocked after you beat the game, and does not have an online mode. Players will take the role of Vincent, a thirtysomething office worker, who has no real ambitions in terms of love and life, under pressure to marry his girlfriend of five years, Katherine. Unfortunately, after getting really, really drunk – he sleeps with a mysterious girl known only as Catherine. On top of that, his time asleep is spent fighting a deadly obstacle course surrounded by sheep – all cursed by someone they know who wants them dead.
The audio is the creation of Shoji Meguro, and does well in terms of creating atmosphere. The voice acting, while no option for Japanese audio, is still rather solid, with the mouth movements being re-synced so they don’t fall under the problem most dubbed exports from Japan do. The cutscenes are mostly animated, with the cutscenes the player will have to do something – namely interaction with other NPC’s, rendered in the gameplay style. There’s not a seamless transition between the two styles, but the loading screens are about five to ten seconds long – not too bad.
The gameplay is heavily based around the “Nightmare” levels – platforming that involves Vincent creating his own stairway out of blocks, jumping, shimmying and pushing them around. There are eight acts, with each act composing of longer and harder levels each time. Just as a side note, Catherine is not QBert – far from it. You also have to combat with other sheep as you climb, with no punishment if you ram them out of your way…no pun intended. All of Vincent’s dialogue choices fill not so much a morality meter, but a Law/Chaos meter. This also affects the way the story will flow, and will lead to one of multiple endings, so replay value is there for those who wish to explore the paths that are available.
The game looks incredible, and while the controls may be ones to get used to, the impression is still there – this is a good game. The difficulty is there, and a challenge exists. While those in Europe will have to rely on importing a PS3 version, those in America can pick up a copy on 26th July for either the PS3 or 360.