Apr 6, 2011

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Catherine Demo: A First Look at Atlus’ Latest Title

Catherine Demo: A First Look at Atlus’ Latest Title

This article was originally published at gamepodunk.com.  It has been re-published here for your convenience.

Back in February, Atlus released the demo for Catherine in Japan. While the demo was not up for long, those who already had a Japanese account had the chance to get it.  If you’d like to be able to download Japanese-exclusive items, demos, and games, you can do so by setting up a Japanese PSN account: look on Google for a guide, as there are a few good ones out there. Since I originally played (and previewed) the Japanese demo, Atlus has set a North American release date for Catherine. So to get all of you prepared for the July 26 release, I thought I would go through the Japanese demo and explain the mechanics behind it.

I want to start off with saying that if you are like me and have a very limited knowledge of the Japanese language, you’ll still be able to understand the controls when you get to actually play. If you are interested in what is spoken during the cutscenes, you’re going to want to see if there is a translated video or script available. Or you can always just read up about what has been released of the plot so far. Basically, you control Vincent, a 30-something salaryman who is stuck with a problem: his pregnant girlfriend, Katherine, is pressuring him into marriage although he’s not really feeling it. So when he meets the young, attractive Catherine, a spark ignites and they spend the night together. From that encounter, Vincent begins having very lucid nightmares.

When the demo loads up, you will arrive at the title screen. This is where you choose the difficulty and get a glimpse of Vincent, Katherine, and Catherine. While the menu is in English, you don’t get much leeway in what is available in the demo. Selecting the Easy difficulty thrusts you into the first level of what appears to be Vincent’s nightmarish journey. The goal is clear: make your way from the bottom of the stairway of blocks to the top without falling to your death or running out of time. As you traverse upwards, you will notice piles of coins and pillows. Each has a purpose, with the coins adding points to your score, and pillows giving you an extra life. The extra lives are good to have when you first start getting used to the controls, and also for the second level.

The first level serves as a tutorial to explain what each button does. The directional pad moves Vincent through the stage. The circle button (which I’m sure will be the X button if/when this game comes stateside) has Vincent grabbing the blocks. Using the directional pad along with the circle button allows for you to pull and push the blocks in order to make a path for Vincent to climb. Made a mistake? The select button rewinds Vincent’s past actions so that you may try another choice. After you experience the story part of the demo, the second level awaits you. This time around, though, you have two giant fork-wielding hands that are not afraid to dirty themselves if you stay in one spot too long.

As I mentioned before, I can’t really say what is said among the characters during the story portion of the demo. I’m going to just summarize what I had read goes down during the scenes. In the first one between Vincent and Katherine, they discuss nightmares and marriage (funny how those two topics go together like that, no?). Later on at the Stray Sheep bar, Vincent is hanging out with his guy pals, one whose thoughts on marriage are negative, and the other who believes marriage is special. This is where we find out more about a slew of young men found dead in their beds, all with a look of anguish. The friends leave and we learn that the actions made during this part, along with the actions chosen in the puzzle levels, play a role in the ending you unlock. Before the second level begins, we get to see Vincent being greeted by the young Catherine.

Even before the demo’s release, I had been eagerly awaiting all news and tidbits about Catherine. This demo just solidified my determination to make it a day-one purchase, if not a pre-order. The lack of information about the gameplay had intrigued me, and had me curious just how the game would be handled. It is good to see that Atlus is not using the same style as the previous Persona series. In fact, I find the puzzle-based action-adventure title to be a nice step away from the series that Atlus has become more known for.

[Images: GiantBomb, PlayStation Lifestyle]