Catherine Q*bert-All

Damn it I so want this. And yet the UK release date keeps getting pushed back. Many thanks for such good use of spoiler tags it's really apreciated.

I just started this last night. I was worried that I'd connect with the storyline but not the gameplay, but so far I'm really enjoying the puzzle-solving. It has the legs and depth I was worried it wouldn't have.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I just started this last night. I was worried that I'd connect with the storyline but not the gameplay, but so far I'm really enjoying the puzzle-solving. It has the legs and depth I was worried it wouldn't have.

Heheh. I'm gonna go grab some popcorn and wait for some Clocky gettin clocky.

ccesarano wrote:

I noticed the longer I played the sloppier I became. I forget which stage it was, but I remember thinking the puzzle was near impossible as I just couldn't figure out how to go about it.

I went back the next day and finished it on my first try with ease.

I think this has more to do with how our brain catalogs problems and information than it does sloppiness. It's a well-known phenomenon in the musical world; if you're struggling trying to learn a part after practicing it for a while, sleep on it and magically the next day you can rip through it. While you sleep your brain does some really interesting things that I believe aren't understood at all, and it greatly helps problems that you've been working on. So "sleep on it" is often very good advice.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

I just started this last night. I was worried that I'd connect with the storyline but not the gameplay, but so far I'm really enjoying the puzzle-solving. It has the legs and depth I was worried it wouldn't have.

Heheh. I'm gonna go grab some popcorn and wait for some Clocky gettin clocky. :)

Nah, it was my GOTY. He'll like it.

The Many sings to us.

Aaaaannnd....DONE!

Lots of fun, I love the ending with Vincent and Boss. It's all

Spoiler:

Hey! Just cause you tried to kill me for the last 8 days doesn't mean we can't have witty banter now does it?

And I'm really curious about all the 4th wall stuff that Midnight Venus talks at the end as well. It's like they thought the audience wouldn't understand any of the metaphors in the game, and she lays it out in plain terms. I wonder if the Japanese version has that 'explanation' at the end, or if it's different dialogue.

Hey, EU! Your release date was Friday the 10th. Catherine Get!

nel e nel wrote:

And I'm really curious about all the 4th wall stuff that Midnight Venus talks at the end as well. It's like they thought the audience wouldn't understand any of the metaphors in the game, and she lays it out in plain terms. I wonder if the Japanese version has that 'explanation' at the end, or if it's different dialogue.

I know it's ludicrously hard, but if you can beat Axis Mundi (last level of Babel) you're treated to a special cut-scene that explains that a bit further. It is definitely intentional what they do with the 4th wall.

Also, up-vote my TA solutions!

I wrapped this up last night.

I like to think of games like this as the future of gaming: mature, intelligent narratives with game mechanics that deepen and enhance the story. Or maybe it's the opposite: interesting, thoughtful mechanics given depth and meaning by a good story. Either way, I love how intricately the mechanics, story, and presentation of Catherine are all knit together. It feels like an indie project given the big budget treatment, and it pays off with something really special and meaningful.

Here's an example: drinking. Vincent spends his evenings hanging out in a bar, and when you're in a bar, you drink, especially if you're a guy like Vincent. As Vincent drinks, he reflects on the day's events and his conversations with his friends and his girlfriends. The more Vincent drinks, the faster he moves in the Nightmare mode, giving the player an advantage when climbing the tower. So you have a tight mechanical/narrative loop where there's a mechanical advantage (greater speed) to exploring the narrative in more depth (via Vincent's self-reflection) with a reasonable narrative justification for doing so (drinking in a bar). Most games break down at one of those three points, but Catherine doesn't, and I'm really impressed by that.

The larger example of this is probably more controversial: the ways the game's difficulty and opacity play into and reflect the narrative. Vincent has been thrown headlong into a bewildering, overwhelming situation where he's forced to learn as he goes, with extremely high stakes for failure. By largely eschewing safer tutorial modes and Nintendo-style teach-by-playing techniques, the difficulty curve in Catherine reflects what Vincent is going through and makes the player experience many of the same feelings of frustration and helplessness. (I don't think it's an accident that the player is often presented with technique videos after they've been forced to learn those techniques on their own.) It's a bold approach, particularly in an era when it's thought to be a design sin to not teach players how to play your game, but it pays off as the player begins to master the game's systems and the growth of their knowledge and confidence mirrors Vincent's own.

Unfortunately, the game isn't universally successful. The boss battles, with their random attacks and abilities, are often more tedious than fun. And the narrative takes a few missteps near the end that lessen the overall impact of the story. Spoilers!

Spoiler:

When reading about the game after its release, I saw a lot of reviewers say that the game took an unnecessarily supernatural turn late in the game. That's a bit silly, as the game is supernatural from the beginning, what with the shared dreams and all, but I think what they were responding to was the strong metaphysical tack the story takes in its last act. Up to the point where Vincent confronts Boss about the dreams, the game successfully created a strange, dream-like atmosphere where the rules and powers at play aren't certain. It gives the game a nice Twilight Zone feeling that matched with the Golden Playhouse presentation.

However, once Vincent confronts Boss, the game gets overloaded with metaphysical ideas and mystical references to Ishtar, Babel, and the Morning Star. It bogs things down and draws attention away from the emotional payoff of the narrative in favor of confusion and an obsession with signs and symbols. The game would have been better off never revealing Catherine's exact nature or any of the details of the powers at work behind the confessionals and the tower.

The game's biggest misstep is actually after the game has finished, with the fourth wall-breaking scene with the host of the Golden Playhouse. There obviously needed to be a scene to wrap up that aspect of it, but it's insulting to the player that the game's themes and metaphors were laid bare in such a blunt fashion. It reminds me of the notorious ending to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, where a psychologist pops up to explain every mystery of the movie and the characters' motivations in great detail. It's a real letdown and cheapens the end.

All in all, Catherine is a genuinely great game, and I'm really looking forward to whatever this development team comes up with next. Kudos to Atlas for green lighting and funding such a project. (Also, as a side note: I have a lot of respect for the developers here for creating a story that's so self-contained. There's not really room for a sequel here without either rehashing the original scenario or creating a similar scenario with new characters. Given how sequel-driven the games industry is, that takes a bit of courage.)

What did you think of your particular ending? How did you feel it fit?

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Spoiler:

When reading about the game after its release, I saw a lot of reviewers say that the game took an unnecessarily supernatural turn late in the game. That's a bit silly, as the game is supernatural from the beginning, what with the shared dreams and all, but I think what they were responding to was the strong metaphysical tack the story takes in its last act. Up to the point where Vincent confronts Boss about the dreams, the game successfully created a strange, dream-like atmosphere where the rules and powers at play aren't certain. It gives the game a nice Twilight Zone feeling that matched with the Golden Playhouse presentation.

However, once Vincent confronts Boss, the game gets overloaded with metaphysical ideas and mystical references to Ishtar, Babel, and the Morning Star. It bogs things down and draws attention away from the emotional payoff of the narrative in favor of confusion and an obsession with signs and symbols. The game would have been better off never revealing Catherine's exact nature or any of the details of the powers at work behind the confessionals and the tower.

The game's biggest misstep is actually after the game has finished, with the fourth wall-breaking scene with the host of the Golden Playhouse. There obviously needed to be a scene to wrap up that aspect of it, but it's insulting to the player that the game's themes and metaphors were laid bare in such a blunt fashion. It reminds me of the notorious ending to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, where a psychologist pops up to explain every mystery of the movie and the characters' motivations in great detail. It's a real letdown and cheapens the end.

Spoiler:

I kind of felt the same way, but I wonder if this is also a difference between Western and Eastern entertainment, philosophies and trends. One of the big things that has given a lot of context to certain anime and other stories, where it feels like there's no real plot for half the series and then suddenly sh*t kicks into high gear with a sudden conclusion lacking denouement , is a result of being based on a five-act story structure traditional in their culture. Our culture, on the other hand, is based on a three-act structure that specifically follows the rising action and so on and so forth.

In the case of Catherine, I think it is more along the lines that Western audiences find it jarring that the supernatural influences would be subtle at first, and then suddenly they're big and major stuff. I've seen this in other anime and shows before (in fact, Akihabara @Deep comes to mind, though being live action it only gets so ridiculous as budget allows), where breaking the walls of reality and plausibility in an otherwise plausible story aren't even acknowledged with a startled blink of an eye.

To that end, I figure the best thing is to just go with the flow.

As for wrapping everything up like in Psycho, well, chances are Psycho had the summary for the same reason producers insisted Harrison Ford voice over Blade Runner: the assumption that audiences are stupid and won't get it. Catherine? Probably a culture thing again. The Japanese do love their long-winded moralizing.

I got the True Freedom ending.

Spoiler:

I thought it fit well because I couldn't really imagine Vincent ending up with either Katherine or Catherine. He pretty obviously didn't care for Catherine beyond sex, and he wasn't mature enough for Katherine. I wasn't surprised when she dumped him, and I'm not sure what contortions the story would have to go through to get her to take him back. They were very different people in very different places in their lives, and the best thing for both of them would be to move on.

I do love that Johnny asked Katherine out. That was a touch that was both funny and true to life.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Spoiler:

I do love that Johnny asked Katherine out. That was a touch that was both funny and true to life.

Totally. Much of what I loved about this game is that Vincent's friends seemed so...real. Like, "I know that guy." Their actions and words were totally believable.

I got a different ending. I think it was the goodest ending.

Spoiler:

Personally, I felt that Katherine was also too controlling and demanding of Vince. Granted, for most of their relationship he was weak-willed and easily manipulated, but to me the story certainly fits better if he is free from either woman. Neither is the sort of woman he needs to be with, at least to me. The guy basically needs to figure out what he wants out of life, something Katherine already knew for herself. The problem is, neither wanted the same thing.

But in the end, I got the good ending where he ended up marrying Katherine, everyone was happy, and the runt wanted his V-Card back.

By largely eschewing safer tutorial modes and Nintendo-style teach-by-playing techniques, the difficulty curve in Catherine reflects what Vincent is going through and makes the player experience many of the same feelings of frustration and helplessness.

This, I think, is not only what makes Catherine a great game, but also what foreshadows what I see as The Next Big Step in game design: binding the dynamics that occur from play as a meaningful narrative that, in turn, makes those dynamics resonate even more during a player's experience.

There are some games out there, past and present, that already (incidentally?) do this, but Catherine is one of the first games that I've seen that appears to have designed its gameplay with the explicit purpose of channeling the story in this way. (Though, if anybody else sees any other line of logic that rationalizes the "Sokoban from hell" puzzle mechanics with the rest of the game, I'd be genuinely interested in hearing it.)

Yeah, I know it's not what everybody looks for in a game; after all, Games Are Supposed To Be Fun By Gawd, and this design philosophy may willingly lead the player into some deliberately un-fun moments for narrative effect.

But, more than anything else, that's what I look for in a game nowadays. More than the kinesthetic bliss of a running wall jump in Rayman Origins, more than the quick shot of dopamine that ricochets between my synapses whenever I read the board in Ascension and make my play, I'm looking for meaning.

OzymandiasAV wrote:
By largely eschewing safer tutorial modes and Nintendo-style teach-by-playing techniques, the difficulty curve in Catherine reflects what Vincent is going through and makes the player experience many of the same feelings of frustration and helplessness.

This, I think, is not only what makes Catherine a great game, but also what foreshadows what I see as The Next Big Step in game design: binding the dynamics that occur from play as a meaningful narrative that, in turn, makes those dynamics resonate even more during a player's experience.

Notably, the two most recent Persona games, 3 and 4 (also by the same team as Catherine) were very much a holistic game experience, from the narrative to the mechanics to the setting itself.

Planescape: Torment did it as well. (I think may have already said that in this thread.)

So, having just beat all the puzzles on replay and getting all gold medals (I'm coming for you all 8 endings achievement!), I gotta say that a 2nd playthrough is a breeze compared to that first one. I think clockwork nailed it on the head with the way the game 'teaches' you to play it. They really find a way to make you feel what you think someone in that situation would feel:

frantic panicked frustration.

Also, don't forget to upvote Min's solutions on Trueachievements.

nel e nel wrote:

Also, don't forget to upvote Min's solutions on Trueachievements. ;)

Damn straight.

4xis.black wrote:

Planescape: Torment did it as well. (I think may have already said that in this thread.)

Many other threads, too!

Seriously, having never played this Planescape game, it's amusing how often it comes up in idealized tones around here.

"Man, I really love this game, but it doesn't save starving babies. But what game can, really?"

"PS:T, y'know."

"Oh yeah!"

And no, I am not going to play it. Foremost because there's no console version for my unwashed ass, and second because it'd be like meeting Christ. Might ruin the mystique.

I'm pretty sure there actually are some starving babies in PS:T, though you don't get to save them.

I need to play this tucking game.

Minarchist wrote:
nel e nel wrote:

Also, don't forget to upvote Min's solutions on Trueachievements. ;)

Damn straight.

I'm having second thoughts on my 'thumbs up' votes: Morgan just died.

On a serious note: the 2nd playthrough is a 'breeze' compared to my first. Got all gold medals (normal difficulty) so I can skip through the puzzles and focus on the narrative and getting full Law and full Chaos endings.

Having the skillset - and confidence (not to mention spamming the nifty undo mechanic that also magically replenishes your score multiplier bar) - to tackle the puzzles this time around actually makes them challenging AND fun. I've tried the Altar stage 3 times now on Babel, and damn, that is hard. And not hard puzzle wise - I'm finding I'm pretty confident in solving most situations, but hard time wise. Just when you think you got a good groove going on, suddenly the camera angle changes to that isometric/top down view that alerts you that the falling blocks are catching up with you.

That definitely shouldn't have happened. Hmm...

Minarchist wrote:

That definitely shouldn't have happened. Hmm...

meh, I'm doing a full Chaos run right now, so I probably told him to grow a pair instead of encouraging him during one of the conversations.

Yes, that would do it.

And I thought the chaos run was really fun. It's a shame they all die so early, though; I'd like to hear their responses to a chaos answer on some of the later questions.

Amazingly, on my full-red run I was still not able to kill Justin. That bastard's immortal.

Minarchist wrote:

Yes, that would do it.

And I thought the chaos run was really fun. It's a shame they all die so early, though; I'd like to hear their responses to a chaos answer on some of the later questions.

Amazingly, on my full-red run I was still not able to kill Justin. That bastard's immortal.

Ha! Yeah, he and Daniel were the only two survivors on mine. Still have to do the final stage and nab all the chaos endings.

So, am I right that all the cut scenes play out exactly the same regardless of your meter (with the exception of which 'angel' flies up to Vincent's ear)? They seem to be doing that, to me at least.

Also:

Spoiler:

is Toby the kid in the confessional?

At the very least, they sound like the same VA.

You hear different internal thoughts of Vincent's, depending on where the meter is. The actual conversations are the same, but his asides change.

As to your spoiler, no. Nor are they the same VA.

They are the same voice actor, actually: Yuri Lowenthal.

I'm surprised that Lowenthal doesn't have a credit for Persona 3. His Astaroth sounds exactly like that creepy kid from the Death arcana.

Eventually I'll learn that the Persona games are alphabetized under "S."

ClockworkHouse wrote:

They are the same voice actor, actually: Yuri Lowenthal.

I'm surprised that Lowenthal doesn't have a credit for Persona 3. His Astaroth sounds exactly like that creepy kid from the Death arcana.

Enchantment? Enchantment! (he also voices Sandal in Dragon Age)

ClockworkHouse wrote:

They are the same voice actor, actually: Yuri Lowenthal.

I'm surprised that Lowenthal doesn't have a credit for Persona 3. His Astaroth sounds exactly like that creepy kid from the Death arcana.

Eventually I'll learn that the Persona games are alphabetized under "S."

Say it with me.... Shin Megami Tensei.....

I do the same thing all that time.