Capsule Review: Catherine

A game about a man going through a quarter-life crisis and, essentially, choosing between two women who represent commitment and freedom respectively. Gameplay alternates between the player character’s nightmares, which are experienced as block-sliding climbing puzzles, and his waking life, experienced as adventure game-like sections with dialog and time-management choices and a pretty cool texting mechanic where you pick the mood of each sentence to send. The story features themes of maturity, fidelity, conformity, the need to move on and the fear of doing so.

The game’s atmosphere and visual design are great, but a lot of the rest of it feels clumsy. The middle of the story drags with the plot remaining static until you’ve climbed through enough levels. The implementation of the karma meter means choices matter both too much and too little, since you can’t really change how most of the events play out but you can easily be locked into endings that may have nothing to do with how you were trying to steer the story. Most frustratingly, the game doesn’t end up having much of anything to say about the grown-up issues it raises - the endings tend to be wacky deus ex machinas that prevent the characters from having to deal with the consequences of their prior behavior. All in all, it feels like a missed opportunity and I would like to see a better attempt.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game. I found the ending unsatisfying and didn’t bother with replays to see other endings since I expected them to be equally unsatisfying. It’s also worth noting that I probably would not have finished if I didn’t have Senpai-chan helping with the climbing puzzles (which I was rubbish at).

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.