hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Sweaty Palms: Hands-on with the Catherine demo

5:00 PM on 01.28.2011 // Josh Tolentino

It's here. Atlus' new game, the one developed by the team behind Persona, its first game on HD consoles, and the one that's been hyped up endlessly over the last half-year, Catherine, is here.

Well, not quite here yet. Its Japanese store date is still set for late February, and Atlus itself has yet to breath a word on the possibility of an international release. But a demo is out on the Japanese PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Marketplace, and we've played it.

And it's pretty crazy, from the first menu screen onward.

Yeah, that's Catherine sitting pretty on a swing up there, with Katherine atop a column, and Vincent tied to said column with barbed wire. Bleating sheep-men fall past in the background.

The only mode available in the demo is the main story campaign. Upon selecting it, viewers are treated to a stylishly animated intro for Golden Theater, apparently a strange TV program. Its logo appears as a broadcast-style watermark during most of the cutscenes.

The demo opens directly into gameplay, as Vincent enters a creepy nightmare, dressed only in his boxers, equipped with a pillow and a pair of ram's horns. A disembodied voice urges him to climb or die, and the tutorial begins, narrated by a bleating humanoid sheep.

As was shown in previous trailers and previews, Catherine's Nightmare mode is essentially a block-moving puzzle-platformer. Vincent must scale a massive floating wall, moving blocks of it around to assemble staircases while picking up gold and accumulating score multipliers along the way. Sections at the bottom fall off as time passes, so staying in one place is a lethal prospect.

Escaping that nightmare, the game moves on to 16:30 on "Day 1", as Vincent and Katherine sit in a cafe. Katherine makes relationship talk, heavily implying that she wants to settle down. Vincent, nervous, dodges the subject.

Fast forward to later that evening Vincent mulls over the conversation with his friends Jonathan and Tobias at the Stray Sheep bar. It's pretty obvious that Katherine wants a ring on it. The topic shifts to Paul, an acquaintance of theirs found dead that morning. Vincent pales upon hearing the circumstances of Paul's death.

Jonathan and Tobias leave, allowing time to demonstrate another of the game's systems. Vincent receives a text from Katherine discussing the events of the afternoon. Players can construct Vincent's response phrase by phrase, with choices ranging from a humble apology for staying out so late at the bar, to a more combative stance, resentful of her pressure. Sending the reply feeds back into a little blue-red bar, shifting the needle one way or the other.

It's not said explicitly what the function of the bar is or what it represents, but it's fairly clear that Vincent's choices and the way they influence the bar will have an effect on the plot and Vincent's fate.

A mysterious woman approaches Vincent's booth and asks if the seat's taken.

Fast forward, and the demo's next gameplay section appears. It's a boss fight, or something like it. Vincent must escape a pair of hands wielding a giant knife and fork. A curiously familiar voice demands that Vincent "can't run away" and that he should "take responsibility".

The chase is quite frantic, even on Easy difficulty (the only option available in the demo). The hands can attack the staircase by turning large portions of the blocks into much heavier versions that take longer to move. Manipulating the level and still trying to get faraway piles of gold or items made for some pretty close calls. Vincent can also pick up special block items, that allow him to lay down steps of his own to cross gaps or add that last crucial handhold.

Reaching the top gets Vincent to safety, cuing angelic hymns and applause from some invisible peanut gallery.

So far, everything's very intriguing. It's rare to see games that deal with genuinely human concern in an adult way, and Vincent's reluctance to commit is one of the most human around. The only real concern I have is that the climbing and block manipulation might not be able to support the game should the story drag on too long. A trailer montage at the end promises new elements and methods of interaction, though.

Well, we'll find out soon enough. If nothing else, what we have here is a serviceable puzzle-platform game surrounded by some of the most demented stories and themes yet seen. Works for me!

What do you think? Still interested?

Photo Gallery: (11 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Josh Tolentino, Random Asian Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure unangbangkay Tips
When he's not posting about Japanese games or Star Trek, Josh serves as Managing Editor for Destructoid's sister site, Japanator. Go there for the best in anime, manga, and cool news from Gloriou... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

gajknight avatargajknight
I fart, therefore I am.
extatix avatarextatix
Working on my next collection blog and holy shit, I should sell some stuff already.
Myles Cox avatarMyles Cox
My first word was "fart".
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Philosophical question: if the only way to get Batman: Arkham Knight to run decently on my laptop is to lower all the settings and have it run windowed, am I really playing it?
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
I'm farting right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I farted in Gamestop today and wasn't blamed!
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
I have never farted. #TrueLies
From Must Git Gud avatarFrom Must Git Gud
Getting banned soon!
Here's to hoping Nintendo makes mobile games as compelling as Pac-Man 256...
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I hate when a new game comes out and D-toid gets flooded with stuff about a game I don't know anything about and I'm just stuck here, sitting with myself and my freeware games...
Dreggsao avatarDreggsao
It is the middle of the night and Yu-Gi-OH is on TV. Are children with insomnia so common these days?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
My hair's done did and my Teddie cosplay is officially ready for next weekend's Comic-Con! Do I impress you, Sensei? [img][/img]
ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Replaying Tales of Symphonia for the first time in years, I only just now realized how random the plot is. Our goals are decided at Lloyd's whimsy, while we get major revelations just 'whenever'. Still a good game, but I'm proud to be #TeamBatenKaitos.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
Question Time! What's YOUR MGSV Helicopter music?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Today at work, I made a reference to the DK Rap in one of my news pieces. Any day that I get to do that is a good day.
gajknight avatargajknight
Everyone's playing MGSV...and I've just arrived in Skellige in The Witcher 3. At this rate, I'll get 'round to MGSV when the PS7 arrives.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Currently learning Little Trinketry from Valiant Hearts: The Great War on piano. [youtube][/youtube]
Retrofraction avatarRetrofraction
MGSV is literally the Skyrim of stealth. 15 hours 3%... #Sneaker'sdelight
ThinMatrix avatarThinMatrix
The Kickstarter campaign is now live for Socuwan – the quirky indie MMORPG created by the community, for the community!
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
Excellent video game OST's for the week (no particular order): 1) Super Stickman Golf 2 2) Lethal League 3) Crypt of the Necrodancer
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -