Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.
Explosions, guns, mystical creatures, fast cars...it’s what we’ve all come to know very well in the gaming world. These particular tales of war and a great evil have been told in many different ways across an abundance of numerous worlds and characters, but have you ever seen a man’s relationship with his girlfriend as the overarching element of the story? Well say hello to Catherine
, a unique puzzle game developed by Atlus that will unleash your inner-most feelings on love and lust through the eyes of one man in what could potentially be the worst week of his life. Originally released in Japan in February 2011, the game made its way to North America and Europe exactly one year later.The BasicsCatherine
is a puzzle game with a twist. You play as Vincent, a poor young man in his thirties who is having women problems. Every night he has these peculiar nightmares which involve towers, sheep, and confession booths. This is where the core gameplay comes in; your main objective is to beat nine stages by climbing giant towers composed of blocks, and it isn't as easy as it sounds. To get to the peak of each tower, you will need to push, pull, and destroy different blocks so that you can make a walkway to the next set. Be careful, though, because if you make a wrong mistake, it could mean falling to your skull-crushing death. As well as basic push-and-pull blocks, there are special blocks, and when interacted with, will cause a certain effect such as Vincent bouncing up a few levels, or the block exploding with surrounding blocks getting severely damaged in the process.
Each of these stages are split into a number of sub-sections with each individual tower varying in length, so once you reach the peak of a certain tower, don’t expect the nightmare to be over just yet. You will be made to go into a small booth where a question will be asked before you move on. Once you do move on, the nightmare continues. Eventually you will reach the final section but something different will occur. Vincent will be constantly chased up the tower by an enormous... thing. The ‘thing’ is a manifestation of Vincent’s daily worries with his relationship and as he is chased all the way up the tower, it will shout out phrases at him like, “Take responsibility!” in an attempt to tug at his emotions. To make matters worse, each monster has its own set of unique attacks that will disrupt the flow of the tower or cause Vincent to fall off completely. These vile entities come in a range of shapes and sizes, such as a zombie-like version of Vincent’s girlfriend in a wedding dress, a huge baby that makes distorted gargling noises, and a shadowy version of Vincent himself who will float around him causing torment.
deals with themes that are rarely covered in detail in a game: love and relationships. Vincent is in a job he hates and has a girlfriend named Katherine. Katherine is a sensible woman who is looking to move things forward with Vincent. That means marriage and potentially children further along the line. As someone who is not ready for that commitment yet, Vincent struggles to come to terms with that prospect and confides in his three friends each night at their regular hangout, The Stray Sheep Bar. On the first night of his horrific week, Vincent comes across a young, blonde bombshell by the name of Catherine. Yes, there are two characters with the same name so get ready to be confused. This woman ends up seducing Vincent and he wakes up the next morning wondering what on earth happened. Welcome to the start of many block-filled nightmares.
From here on out, Vincent has to cope with the fact that he has cheated on his girlfriend. While at The Stray Sheep, you can control Vincent by ordering drinks, chatting with his friends, and checking through texts. Throughout the week, both Katherine and Catherine (still with me?) will text Vincent and you get the choice of how to respond. Will you give into those lustful urges and ask to see more provocative pictures of Catherine? Or will you lovingly respond to Katherine in an attempt to not let her slip away? The choice is yours. However, those choices will have consequences. Depending on what you do, a ‘karma meter’ will appear, and if you side with Katherine, you will move further into the blue, which is Law. If you choose Catherine on the other hand, the meter will edge into the red, which is Chaos. In the game’s cutscenes, Vincent will initially react to situations in his head differently depending on the route you have gone down.
Remember those confession booths I mentioned? At the end of each tower you climb, you will be given a question to answer, such as, “Is marriage the beginning or the end of life?” or, “Who is your type: Catherine or Katherine?” The aim here is to answer truthfully, thinking about what you would do personally. Vincent essentially lives out the week based on your own decisions and you will see one of EIGHT different endings once the game is finished. A number of those endings, as well as some pivotal cutscenes, are also presented in full-blown anime style which gives the game a TV-like quality. It is an engrossing tale full of unexpected twists and turns that will shock many.
If for some reason you just can’t get enough of those block stages, there is a special mode called ‘Babel’ which acts as a sort of challenge mode. There are four stages and what makes this different to the regular story stages is that the game will constantly randomise the towers when you reload the stage, so you can never work out a strategic method to get to the top. You will reach the tower’s peak once you climb a number of steps which is tracked on the side of the screen. This mode is only for experts who have mastered the art of block-age and these stages will only unlock once you’ve accumulated a certain amount of gold prizes in the story levels. It makes sense as it is simply pointless to even attempt 'Babel' without tons of practice. Each of the four stages follows a particular pattern, though, so once you play it enough, you can eventually clock on to how you should place your blocks. Still, it ain't easy!The Achievements
If you are looking for a game with some quick and easy achievements to add to your ever-growing list of games at 100%, you’ve come to the wrong place. Some of the achievements in Catherine
are extremely hard and require an immense amount of skill. With patience and perseverance, you will be able to manage the majority of the list, which involves unlocking all of the endings, specific challenges, and helping out other characters that Vincent comes across in his nightmares. There are also a few tied to a mini-game called ‘Rapunzel’ which can be played when in the bar and essentially acts as a smaller version of the main stages. ‘Rapunzel’ itself is a huge challenge so don’t expect achievements to be simply handed out there either. There are two particular achievements that only the best of the best will earn. A God is Born!
and The Golden Child
. Both require you to complete every stage of the 'Babel' mode and to earn a gold prize on each of the story mode stages on hard difficulty. This is no easy feat, believe me. The game even recommends that you start on easy if you aren’t familiar with the concept of the gameplay yet. You will have your work cut out for you when aiming for the illusive 1,000G in Catherine
Three different versions of Catherine
are being tracked on the site; the North American
one, the European
one (which I own), and the Japanese
one. When combined, around 12,500(ish) tracked gamers have it. With all of the copies put together, 209 people have completed it. In America and Europe, 1.5% of gamers on average have all of the achievements in this game, and the ten story achievements are what we’re seeing the majority of people peaking at.
Across all of the versions, our community has given Catherine
a very healthy 4.0 rating out of 1163 votes, and Metacritic comes in at a lovely 82
You can find Catherine
for £17.23 on Amazon (UK)
, and $29.99(new)/$24.99(pre-owned) from Gamestop
. If you’re in the UK and are less fussy, you can find it for £12 from CeX
. I got my copy when it was a relatively new release for a good £32-£34 and it is still well worth the money. The VerdictCatherine
is a marvel of a game which easily sits on the throne as the most unique game I have ever played. Sadly, it may not appeal to today’s car-driving, gun-wielding, and head-popping demographic, but if you’re after a completely fresh experience, then this is for you. The thought of frustrating and difficult gameplay may put you off, but it possesses an addictive quality that is sure to have you striving for perfection. What do you really desire in a relationship? Delve deeply into the world of Catherine
and find out. Don’t worry, she won’t bite... actually, she might if you play your cards right.
If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!