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meteorscrap avatar 9:03 PM on 07.13.2011  (server time)
Impressions of the Catherine demo

Now that I've got my hands on the Catherine demo, I've got one thing to say... I've been playing Tales of Vesperia recently. So hearing Troy Baker flirting with and talking to Michelle Ruff as Vincent and Katherine is freaking weird after hearing them talk to one another as Yuri and Rita. This probably wouldn't freak me out nearly as much if I'd picked up Tales of Vesperia at release, but here we are.

I'm not saying they're doing a bad job. Both are doing a wonderful job of voicing these characters, and the fact that it sounds so strange to my ears is a credit to how much talent they have. I expect a large level of antagonism between the two because they sold their previous roles so well.

And honestly, if the demo is any indication, this localisation deserves a place in the video game museum just for the voice work. It is that damned good.

Now, on to the two other major points of the demo:

The Puzzle-Platforming

To be blunt, personally speaking, I loved it. It tapped into the same lizard hindbrain part of me which loved Devil Dice and other quirky puzzle games on PS1, and I fully expect that I'm going to be selecting the second hardest difficulty setting on my first playthrough and I'll probably be switching to the hardest difficulty for the others.

I love games like this. Games with very simple rules which they slowly build depth to and modify through external factors. The boss showed me that it could randomly change the landscape and make me work for my win, and the presence of the create-a-block presented me with an interesting choice: Do I use the one block only when absolutely necessary, or do I use it to gain ground on the boss and give me more options for the larger puzzles?

It's an interesting choice, and I've got the feeling the game will make me work for every puzzle. Vincent feels a little twitchy, control-wise, but I have a feeling I'll get used to it quickly enough that it won't be an issue.

The morality system

If the demo is any indication, a lot of Vincent's morality points one way or the other are going to be influenced through the game's cell-phone email system. Interestingly, Vincent doesn't just pick a good/bad response when someone sends him an email. Instead, he drafts each line of the email. Some are good, some are bad, and some can send mixed messages, slanted one way or the other.

It felt... In-depth. Just to give an example, on my playthrough of the demo, I reassured Katherine that I understood her concerns, but also told her that Vincent and Katherine could work on their relationship at their own pace. At the follow-up email Katherine sent Vincent, I got annoyed at her (wholly-founded) accusations of being at the Stray Sheep bar, prompting me to lie and tell her that I wasn't. But then I was able to add in my own admonishment not to get to crazy where Katherine was and tell her to be safe on the way home.

It added a subtle humanity to the decision, the way it allowed me to layer each email with meaning. It made me care a lot more about the content of the messages, because it wasn't me deciding if Vincent was going to be nice or be a jerk, but me deciding specifically how Vincent was going to be nice or going to be a jerk, or how he was going to mix the two.

I have a feeling this is going to offer a lot of replay value, and I look forward to it.

In conclusion

Overall, this demo has just reinforced my desire for this game. It's got a morality system which looks to be fine-tuned and well-tailored for my desires, it's got an interesting puzzle game to take up my time between making story decisions and watching the results, and it's got quality animation and the best damned localisation I've seen.

I'll be ordering a deluxe edition for myself, as well as my friend. Atlus needs to know in the most straightforward manner possible that more experiments like this would be more than welcome.

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