Catherine (Kyasarin) (2011 Video Game) 8 out of 10: I am always hearing men asking what game they can play with their significant other. (Flower is the correct answer, by the way.) Catherine is not the correct answer. It may seem as a simple game that deals with relationships and commitment. It isn’t. The game tells you that you will be judged. If you play with your girlfriend or wife, I guarantee you it won’t just be the game judging you.
First the good bits. This is surprisingly well written. Yes, Katherine with a K is a bit of a trope as a harridan making her man grow up. Yet she isn’t wrong, and plenty of women in their early thirties struggle with the same issues with their partners. (Particularly partners that play video games and watch anime such as the audience for this game.) There is also a lot more depth to the story and characters than may first appear during the play through,
The main gameplay is two-fold. One is sitting around a bar talking to patrons and friends and answering text messages. The game has multiple endings based on your actions, but often I felt I didn’t really have the ability to actually steer the story. I get the impression despite my diligence in talking to everyone I missed significant bits. It has a Mass Effect on the ship feel but without as much apparent dialogue choice.
The other main gameplay element is a climbing blocks puzzle reminiscent of Q*bert. I, at times, hated it. It has a nasty difficulty spike halfway through and there is no way around it if you want to see the story (Playing on easy does not seem to make the puzzles themselves easier. It just gives you more money and lives) Speaking of lives, the puzzle segments gives Dark Souls a run for its money. I can’t remember seeing the “You Died” screen this often in a game. To the game’s credit, however, the checkpoints are generous.
This may be a game one has to play more than once to fully appreciate as I sense I had more freedom of choice than I realized. The block puzzles are tough and frustrating, but the narrative is such that instead of giving up I struggled through and got better.
If you like good more adult themed Anime and don’t mind earning your pudding Catherine is an excellent game.