Gamers on budgets

Gamers on budgets


A Game A Day: Top 5 overlooked games for the gamer on the budget. (Day 1 of 10)

Written by: Johnny Marcondes

With the price of every new title being a staggering $59.99, it's safe to say that not every gamer can afford every new title. I've composed a list of 5 titles that many gamers overlooked, while not exactly new titles don't let their release dates fool you. Each title that will be revealed (once a week), deserves the attention of every gamer. Now at a reduced price, these titles are easily going to give you that bang for your buck.

Catherine. (Xbox 360/ PS3)

What is Catherine?

What do you get when you combine horror, comedy, romance and puzzle platforming in an adventure game? You get Catherine of course! Catherine follows the main character Vincent, a thirty-two year old adult who continues to be haunted in his dreams. What is he being haunted by or why? Well Vincent himself is far from the heroic main character we normally get to play as, instead he's a man of many faults. Being in a relationship with the character Katherine, life begins to take its toll on our backwards hero. When his girlfriend begins to give him at times not so subtle hints that she wants to get married, Vincent begins to panic finding excuses to escape that conversation. Being content with where they are now, Vincent begins to drown his life issues in beer at the local pub with his friends. During this, he meets the mysterious and flirtatious Catherine. Vincent not being one to turn down the company of an attractive woman, ends up spending the night talking to her. Only to wake up to realize that he had slept with her, now the liquored up romantic begins to form a secret love triangle. Trying to balance two women who know nothing of each other, and trying to decide how he should approach this conflict. Stay faithful to his girlfriend or continue being involved with Catherine. All while being thrown curve balls by each party, not to mention Vincent begins to suffer from nightmares.Haunted by visions of sheep's and other creatures Vincent is forced to climb. Just like reality he climbs to escape his problems, however if he were to die in his dreams he'd be found dead in reality. Like many recent games Catherine offers you options and choices that alter the story of the game. But unlike most games, the way Catherine approaches this and shows your progress is different. After each action that determines which side you're leaning on (good, bad. ect) a bar will come up showing you exactly where you are.  A hero who doesn't fight to save the world, universe or anything but his relationship? Can a game like this even sell itself to an audience?

Character driven.
Catherine is one of those rare games unlike anything in stores now. What makes this game so unique? Throughout Catherine, Vincent will have to go through a variety of questions. After completing each stage, Vincent will wonder around talking to an array of sheep. After conversing, you enter a confession booth where a mysterious voice asks you a question. These questions will further determine how Vincent's personality (good guy, bad guy meter) will change. Each question is different but ask very personal questions. Questions such as "do you prefer younger or older women?" and a variety of others dealing with sex, personal preferences of women, and more. After choosing your answer the game compares your answer to other players on xbl or psn. So depending on the way you play, the game will ultimately make you feel like a scum bag or the ultimate ladies man? Personally I felt bad at times for talking to both Catherine and Katherine in a certain way. Since the game uses such a realistic conflict, you can't help but personally feel affected at times. Since the game revolves on a guy who cheats and tried to cover it up, running away from his problems can be relatable to a lot of people in some aspect. The game finds ways to take these characters and make them feel real, each with their own problems and back stories you can't help but get lured in. In fact the game is so well written at times you forget you're playing a character. Focusing on the emotion behind the characters, at times you might find yourself answering questions as if you were Vincent. While some players might choose options depending on which ending they want, the game will make you forget you're answering for Vincent and you'll make it more personal. The drama in the game also leaves you feeling as if you're the main character, because again it's a realistic problem with human characters. Anyone can have relationship issues, so when the game plays on that as the player one might play differently than the next.
Climb! Climb like there's no tomorrow! Love is over, retry?
Catherine is a game that's divided into two parts of gameplay. Half of the game takes place in the bar, where you as Vincent can wander around and socialize. Walking around the bar, you'll find the locals hanging out and each of them offers a conversation. While walking around the bar, Vincent can check his cellphone for text messages, look at pictures of Katherine or Catherine and drink. The other half of the game takes place in his dreams, or nightmares. This is where the game really shines, during these nightmares Vincent has to move and climb up these set of boxes to survive. Each stage becomes more difficult and throws surprises your way, heavier boxes, boxes made out of ice that cause you to slide when walking on them, and even boxes that shoot spikes. There are various ways to find your path up to the door at the top, making the way you play and set up paths a more unique experience. Although you aren't being timed in these stages, the faster you make your way up the higher the score.  There are a total of eight levels in the game, each level typically has three to four stages. At the final stage before you move on to the next level and wake up will have a boss battle of sorts. Normally each boss battle has Vincent running away from a figure that represents his real life fears or problems, although not technically timed if you don't out run the boss you will be killed. During the game when climbing if you make a mistake you can simply undo your last move, this gives players a better chance to get used to the game. Even though the game can be more lenient towards new players, the game on the easiest difficulty could still be pretty challenging. The core gameplay is basic, move the blocks and climb them until you get to the top. However the camera in the game doesn't offer you much control or as much control as you'd like. Along with being chased by horrid monsters, Vincent also has other sheep(people) moving towards freedom. These sheep will try to knock you off some blocks so at times you have fight back, Vincent does so either smacking them with his pillow or by using a power up. Power ups range from being able to create a block, a heavy block, an energy drink that allows you to jump up two blocks at once or a book that shoots down lightning that kills enemies around you. When you first start a new game like any other they ask you which difficulty you want. The game even goes as far as to advise you to play it on easy for your first time. Not only does it do so to have you get used to the game, but it asks if you're just interested in the story to play it on easy. If you're going to play the game on a higher difficulty, be prepared to die....and die a lot. Certain boss battles could be extremely hard for new comers to play it on any other difficulty. The harder the difficulty the more challenging you'll find the same stages, nothing really changes except the speed of the game.
Final thoughts.
Catherine is a unique game with nothing else like it out on the market. Combining realistic issues, with fantasy and challenging puzzles it surely stands out on all levels. However because of the realistic aspect of the game, it can either draw a player in or push them away. While most people play games to escape problems or just experience something totally new, Catherine could remind them of failed relationships or other issues. It's hard to sell someone on a game these days that isn't a FPS, and in fact touches on modern problems without holding a gun or a weapon. I mean who wants to play a game and get reminded of their own terrible life right? The fact that the game has a realistic core theme, shouldn't put anyone off, beyond that core theme Catherine is a fantastic game. Having beautiful anime like cut scenes, a well written main character and support characters, interesting storyline and challenging puzzles. Make no mistake about it, this game is very Japanese. From the humor used in the game, to the reactions characters give even down to the overall design this title screams Japanese. If you love a challenge, or just want a game that's totally different Catherine is it. For those gamers who love puzzle solving and drama this is the perfect title. It was a risk for Atlus to create a game that's so different from whats out, taking the chance that they did personally I'm happy. Catherine is either a game that you've already researched and wanted or just another love it or hate title. Honestly this game isn't for everyone and not a lot of people might support it and that's a shame. Catherine deserves much more, hopefully people will be drawn to it. It's not everyday that we get a game that we can say is actually original. On a personal note, I have been excited about this game ever since I first heard about it. Catherine is highly enjoyable and even though at times frustrating, it's still so much fun and unique that you can't help but love it. As a person and not just a gamer you want to see what will happen to Vincent, you want to see how those questions you were asked and answered will affect the game. Atlus did a fantastic job creating this game and it's story, it should be experienced by everyone who loves a game with an amazing story.
Pros
  • Beautiful animation
  • Interesting and unique storyline
  • Well written characters
  • High replay value
  • Challenging puzzles

Cons

  • Minor camera issues that makes some puzzles frustrating
  • Game can be extremely hard and unforgiving especially to new players to the puzzle genre

Rating: 4/5

Catherine can be found at:

Gamestop:

Used- $24.99

New- $29.99

Amazon:

Used - (PS3) $24.99 / (Xbox 360) $15.89

New- (PS3) $35.89 / (Xbox 360) $28.99

-As always, enjoy your cookie.