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When most gamers think of Atlus, they think of the developer / publisher’s Persona series: an extremely tough role-playing game series with an emphasis on demons and real world scenarios. Catherine, releasing for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, goes in the opposite direction; it combines a visual novel with puzzle-based gameplay to create a unique experience. The story of the game is aimed at an older audience, tackling subject matter you don’t see in video games often. The main character, Vincent, must choose between two women: Katherine, his long time girlfriend or Catherine, the woman he just met but seems to be perfect for him.

Depending on the choices you make in the story, Vincent’s morality will shift towards good and bad. Not only does this affect what Vincent can and cannot do during the story portions of the game, it also affects which of the eight endings you receive upon completing the game; due to this, Catherine offers large amounts of replayability.

While the daytime scenes play out like a visual novel, where you watch the story and make choices when prompted, the night time scenes play out like a traditional video game. Vincent’s nightmares involve him climbing a tower; if he falls off the tower in his dream, he dies in real life. These nightmare towers are a cross between the action and puzzle genres; often, Vincent must determine the right way to ascend the tower but must do so quickly as many dangers await him even on the right path.

Catherine is animated in the Japanese animation style, often referred to as anime. To a passerby, it would be tough to even tell if this was a game or an anime; the graphics are that convincing. As the game is Japanese and is heavily influenced by Japanese style, this graphics style works well for the game.

As mentioned earlier, Catherine, releasing July 26th, 2011, is definitely not a game for children; however, any adults looking for a new gaming experience would do well to give Catherine a chance.

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