Catherine is the first HD game designed by the team behind the Persona series. The publisher has still to confirm a North American release, but as among the strangest, brightest titles to come from this offbeat studio, hopefully Atlus will do the right thing and bring it to US shores too.
The first thing you should know is that Catherine abandons the hardcore RPG style of Persona. Notwithstanding the team’s pedigree, this time Atlus decided to make an action/adventure title. Hopefully this implies Catherine will pull in a larger crowd of gamers who were fascinated by Persona’s stylish look but frightened away by the intense time and skill commitment.
As with former games by the team, Catherine doesn’t tell a usual story starring typical protagonists. Players assume the role of Vincent, an unmotivated, insomniac salary man who finds himself entrapped in a nightmarish world each time he manages to fall asleep. The main abstract of the game seems to be in the same vein as A Nightmare on Elm Street; when you die in your dreams, you die in the real world.
The action occurs in these nightmares, where Vincent has to fend off disgusting monstrosities to save his life. Some of the beasts shown so far involve a giant pair of hands using a fork that tries to stab Vincent and a huge half-robot baby with a chainsaw substituting one of its hands and a hook on the other. To shake off the evil dream, players have to navigate obstructions and work their way up a gargantuan staircase.
Back in the real world, a bizarre mystery unfolds in Vincent’s life along a more adventure-style segments. Vincent has to get by with two women, the sultry Catherine and more founded childhood friend Katherine. Throughout these parts of the game, players can search the town and interact with other characters, and also check their email for messages from Vincent’s two love interests.
Catherine raised several eyebrows with its highly suggestive trailer. Despite some tempting imagery that caused imaginations to run wild, Catherine won’t be a full-on adult game. Sexuality is clearly among the main topics being undertaken, though, which makes the game all the more absorbing. Very few developers seem willing to cover this touchy subject. Hopefully Atlus can do so in a reasonable manner.
Catherine can involve between 20 and 30 hours to play – a welcome relief from the 100-plus hours devoted to various Persona games. Naturally, for those willing to spend more time, the game boasts multiple endings to find. Catherine may have the potential to be a huge game-changer for Atlus, both in going beyond RPGs and engaging in more matured subject matter.