Hiya. I traded Skyrim in for this game and Silent Hill: Downpour about 2 or 3 months ago and I just completed Catherine. I haven't completed Silent Hill Downpour yet. I got three games at that time and the best of the three was the other one, Max Payne 3. Catherine is a very stupid game with a pretty fun central gameplay element. I just felt like making a post about the game Catherine and some of my thoughts on it.
The music is mostly pretty good so here is a song I like from the OST to set the tone.
Catherine is a game which obviously markets itself as lurid. There are some weird marketing choices that I think have to do with the fact it is Japanese and maybe they didn't clock on that the main character's t-shirt, which says RAVE on it, has a heart symbol for a V that kind of makes it look like a word with a very different meaning, and the use of the heart there being morbidly ironic. I don't think that is in any way what anyone intended, but you definitely wouldn't wear this shirt in public because anyone who didn't know it was from the game would assume you were wearing a t-shirt with some kind of wise-ass rape joke on it and you'd get looks at best. I'm bringing it up because in some way it explains how I feel about this game, but there is also a lot of awful bullshit in this game with the designers and writers definitely did intend.
I don't know how much of the team worked on this, but apparently it was the same team as Persona 4. That is what got me interested in this because Persona 4, while having a lot of issues that were partly due to the Japanese context, is a game I enjoyed quite a lot and spent 8 months slowly working my way through, getting attached to quite a few of the characters. People like Kanji, Chie - they were appealing characters and it was fun spending time just living alongside them in that safe, small-town environment. It was a nice place to visit.
Where-ever Catherine is set is not a nice place to visit. It is populated by idiots who think philosophizing means sitting around drinking in a pretentious bar, wearing appropriated clothing, and quoting things various old fucks said about the differences between men and women no more recently than 50 years ago. The cast of this game is repugnant, I did not feel anything for any of them and actively disliked most of them. More than that, I disliked who I imagine the writers of the game to be as people. This is a deeply sexist game in a kind of disturbing way. I mean you can see it from the outset - the virgin whore/nagging shrew dichotomy presented as some kind of meditation on the difficulties adults face in their romantic relationships. C/Katherine as well - something you see in movies by guys like David Lynch where women are all kind of interchangeable and merely represent different aspects of this idea of 'woman'. In no way is this game remotely capable of seeing women as people. It's unnerving that this was taken by anybody as a mature game, it has some of the stupidest writing I've ever seen in games and I just said at the beginning of this post that I like Max Payne 3, which is because I like Max.
If you want to, you can check out the level at which this game is operating in these two clips:
Just stop whenever you feel like it, I guess.
I'm not trying to dig at this game for being a bad representation of women, exactly. I don't want to make a big long sanctimonious post about that, because I've got no authority and it's an obvious complaint I could make in a few lines. This game is just a disappointment for being so ugly and pretentious. I was hoping that the Persona 4 team's mistakes in Persona 4 were going to be progressed on from and improved - like, for example, in Persona 5 maybe we could have an openly gay character who isn't treated like they are mentally ill, or something like that.
It's because I like these kinds of oddball games with social elements to them that I give a crap. You spend a lot of this game in the pretentious bar I mentioned before, just hanging out and talking to your friends. You control Vincent as he walks around and interacts with the other people people at the bar, getting to know them. It could've been a really relaxing experience coming in and playing this for a couple of hours before bed, but I didn't want to get to know a single one of these characters when 8 times out of 10 their opening line is something about I don't know, "Did you notice how all women are serious? Men need to be more serious, I think...", or just some other manbaby gender relation nonsense.
The stereotype Katherine with a K fits into isn't just a Japanese trope, you see it in pretty much all mainstream US comedies. You know, the emotionally (and physically, usually) abusive and joyless partner, usually a little older (as youth drains from women, so does the capacity to experience joy), contrasting with the free-spirited 18 year old girl maybe in pigtails maybe a cheerleader who will of course fuck this older loser guy and not expect anything in return. I mean, it's just boring and is holding everybody back.
So if you heard that Catherine was somehow a thematically mature game underneath its lurid marketing campaign - and I don't necessarily have an issue with the porn style marketing - then, it isn't. It's a really shitty experience on the narrative level. Fuck this game, fuck the people who made it.
The puzzles are great and I like the music. Here's the title theme, it's pretty good:
What I want to see is one of these social games which are actually pleasant to inhabit and is made by thoughtful people - by good writers. It was easy to go nuts over Deadly Premonition because of how lovable and open it was, but even that had some of the exact same problems that Catherine does, especially towards the end. Maybe we need to let David Lynch go as an influence because I think he is holding us back.
I wouldn't recommend Catherine.