E3 2011: Catherine Hands-On Preview

By Lauren Alessandra on June 20, 2011, 1:21PM EDT

Unfortunately there's a very bad trend flying around the gaming world where developers will resort to creating games they think will sell rather than creating the game they want. Atlus is not one of these developers. From Persona to Trauma Team, Atlus has been able to capture fans with their gripping storylines and fun gameplay. Catherine is the newest title to explore new depths as an adult-adventure-puzzle-platformer-survival-horror game, quite the genre mix-up.

For those who are out of the loop, Catherine revolves around a young man named Vincent whose love life is falling a part. His girlfriend of five years, Katherine, wishes to push forward their relationship by marrying Vincent, but he doesn't seem to feel the same. Especially, after Vincent meets the sexy Catherine whose 'forward' personality leads to her spending the night with Vincent. Things get even crazier once Vincent starts having bizarre nightmares in which he's forced to climb a wall of blocks or else he dies.

Climbing blocks may sound easy enough, but it's actually quite surprising how hard it gets as you climb higher and higher. For one, there are some blocks that actually spew up spikes which kill Vincent instantly, some that break once you step on them, and others that don't move at all.

Also, there are other sheep that are just as desperate to climb up the blocks as you are and are more than capable of knocking you off. The sheep that you see around the level are actually other young men much like yourself. Some of them wear clothing similar to the friends at the Stray Sheep bar. This isn't just a coincidence. Just as you would, if any of these sheep die in the nightmare world, they'll disappear from the daytime.

But those angry sheep are small fry compared to the actual monsters chasing you up the blocks. One of which, we could affectionately call Buttlicker, who has only one mission; eat you up. Pulling out the wrong block could mean giving Buttlicker some advantage. But be wary; this creature isn't the only one after you. Why is it called Buttlicker you ask? Well, because it's a butt, with a huge tongue protruding from it.

Once finishing a level, players will receive a score and an award for their efforts. There are some pillows scattered throughout giving players extra lives. If you run out of pillows though, it means game over. Nightmare mode is also where you may interact with sheep, save your game, learn techniques, and spend coins on special items.

Although it seems most of the gameplay takes place in the Nightmare, the things you choose to do in the Daytime also have an effect on how you will proceed through the game.

You'll be asked questions and depending on your answer, it will affect the development of Vincent. With this in mind, the choices made by Vincent later in the game will change according to your answers as well. Players will not have the option to choose how Vincent acts during these important scenes, but his morality meter will opening up plenty of endings for players to earn.

The Stray Sheep Bar offers a lot for players to prepare for upcoming Nightmares. Need more climbing practice? The Stray Sheep Bar has an arcade game called 'Rapunzel' which is a smaller form of the Nightmare challenges. Want to increase your stats? Depending on what drink you order at the bar, you can increase certain attributes. But if you just want to fool around for a bit, you're able to talk to other customers, save and send text messages, and listen to the jukebox. Some of the songs on the jukebox are actually from previous Persona games; perfect for all you Persona fans out there.

Atlus never fails to surprise gamers with their stories as well as their gameplay. Dedicated fans and new Atlus fans alike should have a gander at Catherine and what it has to offer; a great story and extremely addictive gameplay.

Kids and parents beware; this is definitely not a game for every fan out there. Catherine explores a lot of sexual themes not appropriate for the youngsters. But if you're of age and of sound mind, pick up a copy of Catherine coming out July 27th for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

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