Category: Catherine

Dragon Age Origins Morrigan

Recently a rather interesting conversation broke out at Polish the Console about video games and relationships. While Kat has a less than secret crush on BioWare (and by crush I mean stalking)  I have found myself with a wanting for something more. Maybe it was playing a video game with the adult themes of Catherine that got me thinking about this but isn’t it time our relationships in video games grew up?

When I say “the adult themes” I don’t mean the sexual nature of the relationship. What I mean is the importance placed on the relationship and the value that it possesses and the effects that these relationships have on the outcome of the game. As a video gamer I want my game to have real consequences to my actions. In BioWare video games the only real consequence to a relationship is “I don’t get to see the sex scene with that other character” and anymore let’s be honest what are we really missing?

mass effect 2 mirands

Behold! The awesome rewards of a relationship...

Now to preface this let me just say that this does not have anything to do with writing or emotional attachments to NPCs. One thing I will never criticize or bemoan in any way is the writers ability to genuinely make me care about my party members. Who among us hasn’t agonized over one stupid little decision in a game that, in reality, had no real bearing on the outcome of the game? What I mean is that in games like Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect the relationships you enter into make little real and meaningful difference to the outcome of the game. You can still have a 98% identical experience in the game without a relationship; all you miss out on is a little smooching and a few dialogue options that will still give you the same ending anyways. While you may personally feel more passionately towards the outcome based on your emotional connection with the characters, you could still arrive at that outcome without being in that relationship.  In Dragon Age: Origins being in a relationship with Morrigan or Alistair does not mean you will live or die. It does not mean anything other than a small chunk of text at the end of the game.

In my life I am a 31 year old married man. I have a wife, two dogs, house, and no picket fence. I genuinely enjoy my life. However I look at my companions: my college friends, work friends, people I meet. I see my wife and my dogs and the life I have chosen. If this were Mass Effect 2 I could very easily flirt with my companions who were willing and suffer no real ill effects. If this were Dragon Age II then I could literally flirt with everyone I shared more than a passing conversation with regardless of sexual orientation and it would be okay.

In my real life I can almost certainly promise you that if I were to flirt with the girl at the local GameStop my wife would not be at all happy with me. In fact I would think that what would ensue would be a 4 hour impassioned apology from me and a well deserved lifetime of distrust from her.

But there’s more than just my ability (okay let’s be honest I have no ability I got lucky) to flirt with people. I have chosen a companion that I will put before all others. In my relationship I have said “I choose your missions before anyone else’s.” I looked my wife dead in the eyes and said “I voluntarily choose to miss out on a cornucopia of potential companion missions with friends and acquaintances to forge life with you and do your missions.” She then gave me a sword. Dead serious. She had a custom forged katana made for me. I’m that lucky. She also had my wedding ring made from sword. Again I’m very serious. She knows me.

Miranda Mass Effect 2

She's not even shooting something because for me.

In Mass Effect 2 when you choose to be with Miranda Lawson all you miss out on is a sexy video with another crew member and bit of “I want to be with you” dialogue. You still get to do all of their deep companion missions. You still get to fully complete the game. Hell Miranda doesn’t even give you anything that helps you. Come to think of it when you gain her allegiance SHE’S the one that gets something. They all do. Why didn’t we get a fancy new suit? We’re the ones risking out asses to help your families. Where’s my fancy pants?

But more than this nobody seems to care that you’re potentially in a relationship. In Dragon Age: Origins when Morrigan gives you a ring or Alistair and you become Ferelden Royalty what really changes? Do you miss out on any part of the game because you’re in a relationship?

This is what I mean by adult themes. It is the decisions that have significant weight in the world. It is saying “Yes I want this. This is my decision and there is no going back, there is no middle ground, and I have to stick through this.” In Catherine it was the seemingly inane questions that created a very black or white picture of the world. Ultimately you decided between Catherine or Katherine. That was your decision, it sucked, it was difficult, and it was one of the most gratifying and real experiences that I have had in gaming all year, because of the consequences.

This is what other games need to bring in. Make a relationship mean that in return you get some real and deep companion mission. Make a relationship mean that you are not, in fact, running around with everyone doing whatever you want. You have consequences for your decisions that will carry through the entire game based on who you choose to be in a relationship with.

The additional benefit to this is a terrific increase in replayability. In all likelihood I’m probably never going to replay Dragon Age II. With two play throughs I was able to do almost everything I wanted to. There is no more story to surprise me or grab my attention. However uncovering more about Isabela or Merrill would absolutely bring me back for another go-round if the stipulation was that I had to be in a relationship with them.

While this would certainly rub a lot of gamers the wrong way it’s something that would both intrigue and beguile provided it’s done correctly. Video gamers are growing up. Isn’t it time our in game relationships do the same?

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Rating: 4.4/5 (9 votes cast)

When you start Catherine you’re not really sure what’s going on. What you do know is that you are looking at Vincent. Vincent is in his underwear. He has horns on his head. Vincent is surrounded by sheep and standing at the base of strange wall. Suddenly you are forced to climb as the floor beneath you begins to crumble away. Oddly if it was any other way it just wouldn’t feel as right.

Catherine Video Game Review

TL/DR - Catherine is definitely worth the buy

Catherine: Controls

Controls are a vital part of any game (hey there Captain Obvious!). If they are not spot on the game becomes infuriating and frustrating. This, more often than not, is the case with Catherine. While I’m not ruling out that this is by design to add a new element of difficulty to the game, it did seem that I felt a very frequent and overwhelming urge to break my controller in half and throw it into a wood chipper because Vincent either moved or didn’t move how I instructed him to.

The controls for Catherine were, however, delightfully simple. This was a fantastic boon for the game since there was a very present time limit that is chasing after you, in some instances very literally and also while screaming. There were few simple options during the game: move in a direction, grab a block, use whatever power up you have and from time to time you get to talk or to text. Very simple. But it was the movement that became a little fuzzy. It’s this level of “fuzz” that takes away from Catherine’s delightfully simple controls. When precise movements mean the difference between life and death it’s the precision that needs to be in place before the simplicity.

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Catherine’s controls get a 3 out of 5.

Catherine in bed with Vincent

This is a typical morning for Vincent. That. Asshole.

Catherine: Gameplay

Catherine is a game that is quite unlike any other. Right from the onset you are are thrust into a wonderfully realized world that is full of confusion and chaotic fear. More often than not you will be asking yourself, “What is the correct answer? What is the correct course of action?” With no clear choice of right and wrong you are literally forced to make a choice between two possible answers. Sometimes you may not even agree with these answers. For example the question was posed “Do you believe that life begins or ends at marriage?” You literally have to answer this question in order to progress the game. It does not matter if you agree with either of the decisions, but you do have to answer. It’s these answers that will ultimately determine the outcome of the game.

In both the dream world and the real world time always flows. There are certain things you can do to stop it like check your phone or play a video game (within the video game) but other than that time keeps on moving. In the real world there are people you can talk to and learn interesting bits of information about the denizens of the world. However you have to act quick because if you don’t talk to them quick enough, they wind up moving on with their evening and you may not be able to help them.

Then there is the difficulty. Catherine is not what you would call easy. It is hard. It’s hard because of this always moving time frame. Once you start to work with the puzzles the dropping floor comes up faster than you expect it to. This is without the bosses. You throw them into the mix and you have a confusing puzzle that is quickly getting smaller and smaller while something tries the falcon kick you, chop you, or crush you into paste. Each time you die you see one more continue go away, and with it…a small piece of your pride.

The ability to base a game on your decisions is not something new or unique to a video game anymore. However the always moving, always flowing time frame that takes place in Catherine adds a wonderfully finite dynamic that is something I wish more games carried through. It’s this sense of constant urgency that gives Catherine a special edge.

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Catherine’s gameplay gets a 4 out of 5

Catherine: Graphics

Catherine is an exquisitely beautiful game. This is no secret. The pre-rendered anime cutscenes are definitely well drawn. While the anime style may not be for everyone it is certainly something that I enjoyed. But what struck me was how well the rest of the game lived up to this style.

Catherine in engine cutscene

This is not pre-rendered. This game looks THIS nice.

There is little else to say other than it is so beautifully crafted and rendered that it absolutely deserves recognition

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Catherine’s Graphics get a 5 out of 5

Catherine: Story

This is a game that will automatically default you to the easy setting. It’s not that Catherine doesn’t believe in you, it just knows precisely how frustrating it is and it wants you to enjoy it’s story. It’s the story that will carry you through the game. As you climb you interact with other people. As you interact you begin to learn more and more about them. Learning about their problems you begin to know them. When you see them at each landing between climbs you are happy to see they made it. When they perish you are met with a sense of grief.

Catherine and Vincent in The Stray Sheep

Seriously Vincent. I don't care what she really is. You're a lucky asshole.

Then there is the real world and your friends and bar patrons. Their struggles and stories keep you gripped to the world. The game ceases to be the standalone tale of Vincent and his peccadilloes. The game becomes a living breathing world with surprisingly deep and rich characters who’s lives and problems you begin to genuinely care about. The time in between climbs becomes treasured moments of dialogue and depth that is rarely seen in a game these days.

While the game itself is short I find myself wishing that I could have spent more time in the Stray Sheep talking to friends. It’s the calm and subtle down time of alcohol and conversation that ultimately keeps you gripped to the game and wanting more. It’s the brief interludes on the landings between climbs that somehow manage to be small but powerful.

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Catherine’s Story gets a 5 out of 5

Catherine: Overall

Overall Catherine is a solid and well put together video game. While the controls were the biggest point of contention they should in no way, shape, or form detract anyone from purchase. With multiple possible endings to both Catherine and (surprisingly) the in-game video game the replayability is sure to keep fans coming back for more. Atlus has absolutely just delivered a winner with this one.

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Catherine gets an overall score of 4 out of 5.

Now, first person to answer the name of the game within the game and it’s endings gets the first ever Ass Stamp of Approval.

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Demon's Souls Dragon

This should be your first sign to just turn right around and walk the other direction

It’s not like they are a new company. It’s not like they came out of nowhere. If you haven’t at least heard of Shin Megami Tensei then I feel a little sorry for you. However over the past few years I let out a little excited groan when I hear about new video game with Atlus written somewhere on it.. This is not to say that I am unhappy seeing them push forward with new projects, in fact it’s far from it. I love playing games by Atlus and until very recently I didn’t know why.

Atlus Video Game Publishing and Development

A logo I'm starting to love

With even the most paltry and superficial research you will learn quite quickly that one of the harder games to come out in recent years was Demon’s Souls. It is lauded as being a controller breakingly difficult game that is so unbelievably fun and rewarding that you begin to question if just maybe you enjoy being abused. While this wasn’t developed by Atlus their name is still attached at publisher. Now we have to give great credit to From Software for making an amazing game in both story and style. All Atlus really did was make it available here in the States but that’s saying something. In a time when an RPG will hold your hand autosave every three minutes and occasionally, not always, give you a big bright shining yellow line to your goal so you can’t even get lost if you tried Atlus took a gamble and pushed it to the store shelves knowing that Demon’s Souls level of ferocity may be viewed by gamers here as being too much. This was a gamble that paid off for them.

divinity 2 dragon knight saga

One of us wants some corn. The other wants a hug.

While Ego Draconis really did get panned by reviewers I am absolutely a fan of Divinity II: Dragon Knight Saga. I mean who wouldn’t be, you turn into a giant dragon, summon an upgradable creature comprised of body parts of the dead. But this is not why I find myself enamored with Divinity II. There something that harkens back to the days of playing the Ultima series. While Divinity does give you a log of current quests what it doesn’t do is hold your hand and tell you where to go. It more or less says “It’s somewhere, go find it.” This encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of the game. There are plenty of crannies and even more nooks.

But what Divinity also does is flat tells you that you need to expect to die. During one of the numerous loading screens it says “When you die during a fight reevaluate your tactics or run until you know what to do.” This is a viable tactic that you legitimately have to utilize during playthrough. Death is something that will happen and happen frequently. It doesn’t throw hordes of weak enemies at you who attack in groups of twos or threes. If you misstep you’re suddenly staring at seven or eight enemies close to or higher than your level who surround and attack. It’s this very reason I’ve been stuck on the last boss for about a week now not able to survive more than a minute into the fight.

Divinity II begs you to strategize and exploit flaws. It requires you to plan your attacks and play upon the weaknesses of the enemies. It’s not like a Dragon Age where more often than not you can get away with creating a tank and running in full bore to clear out a room. You must think before you act. You have to try a few different things before you find what works, and if you didn’t save before trying? Well let’s just say that while there is an autosave it’s more or less a pleasant surprise than a helping hand. I am pretty sure it autosaved maybe four of five times.

Catherine Video Game Atlus

You will both hate Catherine and love her

Then there is Atlus’ latest outing Catherine, a simple platformer that tells the tale of a man named Vincent in-between complicated puzzles. This is yet another game where we see that they aren’t making games to help you and make you feel warm and fuzzy. I have died more times than I care to count in Catherine either because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my surroundings or the puzzle just created a problem that I couldn’t solve in time. Each time I die I watch my available continues go down and I’m met with both nostalgia and panic. But the puzzles are so gratifying in their level of difficulty that upon completion I have found myself jumping up and talking smack to either the puzzle or whatever was chasing me. This is a game that had me actually utter the phrase “Take that you stupid giant baby!” Okay to be honest what I said was slightly more profane.

Ultimately it’s this reaction that Atlus is able to illicit in their recent offerings that is endearing them to me. Whether some obscure item is hidden away in some hard to find alcove on the side of a mountain or I have just completed a grueling boss battle or level I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. Has gaming really deteriorated into a state where we expect the games to play themselves for us? I mean yes while having 150 potential outcomes in the conclusion of a game is interesting where is the challenge in it if I can breeze through it? I guess what I’m trying to say is “Thanks Atlus, for bringing us games that make us feel like we actually accomplished something.”

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Catherine has piqued the interest of a lot of people, including myself. When Atlus first announced it there was massive amounts of confusion. As time went on things became…marginally more clear. We know it involves mysterious deaths at the hands of a serial killer. We know there there is crazy ass dreams with sheep that may or may not be the trapped souls of the killer subjects. We know that it’s sexually charged. Other than that we have avoided any and all spoilers so that when Catherine is released on July 26, 2011 we will play it with the same “WTF” mindset as everyone else. Why? Because it just makes things more fun.

Today Atlus went ahead and told us a little more information about this beloved enigma of erotic puzzle platforming glory. First up they deliver it to you in a wonderfully creative way. Rather than ship in an any regular old box they send it to you in a fantastic looking replica of a pizza box from the in game hangout of Vincent and his friends. A simple yet charming way to tie everything together and make the entire package feel like a piece of the game itself. Second they carry this “piece of the game” motif a little more with  a fancy new t-shirt that does a fair job of letting anyone around us know that we are running out of energy. This would work well on a Monday morning or Friday afternoon. However it’s intention is to replicate one apparently worn by Catherine herself.

Now is when things become a little strange. We see that we get a nice pair of underwear. While I applaud Atlus for creativity and humor I am somewhat curious if they are making cosplay just a little too easy on people. I mean come on guys, you have to at least make people WORK to dress up live Vincent. I am already having nightmares about the next convention wearing nothing but Vincent’s boxers. Wait a minute…is that an added extra? Free nightmares just like Vincent. Very clever guys, very clever.

Next is the piece is a Catherine pillowcase to help you drift smoothly off to sleep and into your own puzzle filled sheep playground. On the pillow case is the glorious emblazoned image of Catherine herself to help keep you sleeping soundly.


catherine deluxe edition goodies
Wait wait wait, boxers AND a pizza box? Sign me the eff up RIGHT NOW!

Atlus if you keep this pace of awesome you have going on you will soon be finding yourself with one extra fanboy in the very near future.

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For months now the gaming world has been watching with great interest the story of Catherine. This stems from the fact that most of us had no idea what it was about but once it was released it began to outsell Marvel vs. Capcom 3 by a margin of 2 to 1. This game was one that many of us seriously considered importing to play. What we did know was that you assumed the role of Vincent who meets a mysterious woman named Catherine. He becomes infatuated with her which poses an interesting dilemma since he is seeing a woman named Katherine.

screenshot of catherine

I will finally get to understand this!

Vincent’s life was normal up until meeting Catherine, he is a “salaryman” who is in his 30’s and is attempting to maintain his independence from the rigors and norms of life. He’s essentially an “everyman”.

Since its release we’ve learned that in Vincent’s town there is a string of deaths of young males in their sleep. The town rumor is that if a man dreams of falling then he will not wake up. In these dreams the other victims appear to him as sheep and help him as he works through puzzles to escape a similar fate. However a real problem arises when these nightmares begin to work their way out of Vincent’s dreams into his reality. He begins to suspect that Catherine may be connected. Whether she is or not is something we’ll just have to wait and find out. Or look up the spoilers but what fun is that?

We here at Polish the Console have been anxiously waiting with baited breath for this to be released here in the US and then today I awoke to find this glorious piece waiting for my in my email inbox.


Atlus Catherine Video Game
Best news of the day!

So I’m just gonna go ahead and get my preorder in. Who’s with me?

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