Catherine First Impressions

Originally Posted on August 23rd, 2010: Link.

Marking Atlus’s first foray into development for the HD generation (the company has only so far published titles from other developers for the past 4 years), Catherine is a brand new single-player, action-adventure, erotic-horror, hyphen-filled RPG from the developers behind the smash hits Persona 3 and 4, as well as the sleeper hit Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.

The key staffers from the Persona series who have dipped their craftsmanship into this title include Katsura Hashino as producer and game director; Shigenori Soejima as the character designer; and Shouji Meguro as the music and sound composer.

Catherine tells the story of Vincent, a 32-year old salaryman who has pretty much given up any sort of hope of ever finding the love of his life, deciding instead to give up all of these ambitions and live out of his bachelor pad after moving away from his parents. This doesn’t mean that he is some sort of pitiful pervert with no sex appeal, but from what I have seen, it is more about how he just simply has no luck with the ladies.

Things start to turn around when he meets the 22-year old Catherine, a charming-faced, beautiful woman with “well-proportioned” physical features that happens to be everything that Vincent wants in a lady. However, after meeting with Catherine, Vincent starts to be tormented by nightmares while he is sleeping, nightmares where he is met with an unending flight of stairs that he must climb or he will never be able to wake up again. This happens to be the focal point of the game itself.

In the latest issue of Famitsu magazine where the game was first announced, Vincent will not be alone on the treks through his deepest, darkest nightmares; on the way, he will be meeting up with (yes, actual lambs) in his dreams that are being chased by giant hands that threaten to kill all of them, and that in order to survive, one of the lambs tells Vincent that he must climb the aforementioned stairs in order to escape his doom.

Much like the “Midnight Channel” in Persona 4 or Igor’s Velvet Room, Vincent will be entering and exiting this realm throughout the course of the game. In one of the screenshots in the magazine, Vincent appears to wake up out of his nightmare with Catherine by his side, when both are confronted by what looks like a very angry woman (His mother? I have no idea).

As noted in the magazine, there may be some sort of relationship between the nightmare world and the real world, such as a sequence of screenshots where you can see a man suffering from a terrible fall to death as reported on the news, and after seeing what, Vincent experiences the same in his nightmare, and he must open his eyes or go through the same fate.

For what I have seen so far, the game looks really incredible. I put a lot of trust in a team who understands that a lot of gamers who were a part of the RPG scene during the Playstation 2 days have grown up and are starting to expect more mature games. In a way, it is a smart move which certainly has the ability to appeal to both Eastern and Western gamers. We want games that are a little more scary, a little more bloody, and a little more story-driven with our games nowadays, and Catherine looks to be hitting all those important aspects with flair.

Incidentally, Vincent started to look pretty familiar to me after my recent playthrough of Persona 3 Portable, and after searching around the Internet a little bit, it turns out my assumptions were correct. Vincent happens to make an appearance in P3P as an NPC with the name “Man Drinking Alone”, complaining about the nightmares he had been having recently. Whether this means we will see appearances from other characters in the Persona universe remains to be seen, but it looks like there certainly is a connection

The company has said that Catherine will be a very “adult-oriented” game with a deep experiencing filled with lots of gameplay to keep people coming back for more. Atlus has also said that Catherine will allow the team to get a better feel of the next-gen architecture in order to enhance the upcoming Persona 5 that is speculated to be in simultaneous development.

Catherine is currently 80% completed, and will be released in Japan this Winter on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. To learn more, check out the very sexy official website (completely with Catherine spread out on a bartop) here You are also free to check out the Media Vault section for more shots of Catherine, and take a look at the debut trailer for the game below showcasing Japanese rapping at its finest. If you watch closely enough, you’ll notice an in-game sex scene.

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