When I first played Catherine years ago, I thought it was a decent game, the Anime cutscenes were not really my thing, but it was nicely animated, and the puzzle gameplay was cool, but I really liked the story, the whole thing about this guy trying to balance two girls both named Katherine/Catherine.
Playing the game years later, having a much more mature feeling towards dating, marriage and just life in general, I’ve completely turned on the game. Vincent, the main character, is straight up a scumbag, who has ZERO redeeming qualities. The relationship portrayed between him and Katherine seems utterly juvenile and immature. He goes out drinking with his buddies instead of spending time with his longtime (5 years) girlfriend. She starts talking about settling down and even later says she’s pregnant, and he brushes it off, doesn’t talk to her, and then has a fling with some random chick. He cheats on his girlfriend then immediately just goes “oh well, what do I do now?” and proceeds to bounce between hooking up with this girl every night for over a week and ignore the girlfriend he knocked up.
I’m honestly baffled now when people bring this game up as a “mature and well done and told story about relationships”. This feels like a story written by someone right out of high school, who knows nothing, it's insane and I just can’t imagine who would find this story charming, or redeeming. Yes, I know that there are things that can be glossed over as a “oh she was a succubus and he didn’t REALLY cheat”. He clearly does, and even if she is, he still went on with this whole thing for a WEEK.
The gameplay is something else entirely, and it’s good, although it’s extremely hard, even on normal, with massive difficulty spikes that made me restart the game on easy instead. Even on easy, it still was very difficult in select parts and way too easy in others. I wish it was a bit more balanced and the boss fights (where I encountered the most issues) would have toned down everything surrounding the game. The constant ringing of bells, the wailing and screaming from the boss chasing you, the very overly loud and repetitious music that was not good to begin with, the insane screen shake and booming bass, and the camera that had a mind of its own half the time… this all combined to bring the game down a lot in my opinion. There is basically a semi watered down version played on the Arcade cabinet in the bar that serves as a main hub, which I think is where the best part of this game really is now.
I played this game as how I would answer the questions, and how I would react in the game instead of whatever insane “32” year old Vincent does (hint: no 32 year old would act the way he does). So it was really a struggle to play the game as I went straight to be when I could and it was a much shorter game.
Catherine is a weird game that does something totally different, and it has that Atlus style and flair that makes their games cool and interesting. Yet, Catherine is bogged down with an unlikeable main character, frustrating storytelling and difficulty spikes and bad camera and sound effects that make the game more of a challenge to keep playing than it should. It’s worth taking a look at for a few bucks, but it’s not the gem and gold standard of storytelling that most say it is.