19th Feb2020

RETRO-spective: Catherine

by Xenia Grounds

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Valentine’s Day wasn’t too long ago and a game that I think about around this time is Catherine. Mostly because it does have a large focus on relationships and also if you’re single, you’ll probably be grateful for it after this game. Catherine is absolutely hilarious and full of adult humour but it does have something to say about commitment and growing up. Before we continue, some may be wondering what I think about Catherine: Full Body. I haven’t played all of it but from what I can tell, it’s a fine remaster/remake. It’s hard to talk about its more controversial elements without spoiling the twist to say the least so I’ll choose to avoid that topic.

Catherine centres around Vincent Brooks. He’s an average guy in his early thirties who works an uneventful office job who likes to spend his nights in the Stray Sheep bar with his best friends. At the beginning, he’s getting a little bit of pressure from his long term girlfriend, Katherine, to start thinking about marriage. Freaking out from the idea of it, Vincent gets heavily drunk one night and wakes up next to a beautiful blonde called Catherine. Could it get worse? Well, Katherine reveals she’s pregnant too. On top of that, Catherine threatens to kill you if you cheat on her. You’re in an unwinnable situation here, Vincent. Time to hit the bar!

Ultimately, you get to choose which girl (if any) Vincent goes with. Personally, I made sure that Vincent ran away from Catherine as much as possible. I’ve seen Fatal Attraction and Catherine definitely reminded me of that movie. Catherine is a bit more conversative and does have Vincent’s best interests at heart even if she comes across as a little bit naggy. There is an appeal to both depending on what you think about when it comes to commitment or life as a bachelor. Vincent is a horrible liar and isn’t subtle at all so I do question how he gets away with cheating for as long as he does but it makes it more funny, that’s for sure. They do say love is blind but these two women are oblivious to a baffling degree.

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While it is hilarious to see how much Vincent’s life sucks, another large aspect of the game is the nightmare sequences. Every night, Vincent is plagued by horrific nightmares. For the player, it is essentially trying to figure out how to get to the top of a tower by pushing blocks around in the right direction. Of course it’s not that simple as the floor beneath you is falling so you are timed. There are an increasing number of traps to worry about and obstacles like fellow sheep as you ascend. I’ll also add that these are not easy puzzles to solve. On my first playthrough, I got stuck on level two on normal difficulty and even on easy, the game is still grueling. It took multiple playthroughs for me to get through Catherine on normal difficulty and if you want those gold and silver trophies, you better hope you’re good at thinking on your feet.

In the rest area before the actual puzzle sequence, you enter a confessional booth. In this booth, you are asked a question normally about relationships such as: Is marriage where life ends or begins? This affects a bar that swings between red and blue. You’ll only see what that bar means and how your answers and choices affect things when you get to the end of the game. You get to see the stats of other players after answering these questions. Although, I hope many players were trolling when they said they were perverts.

Most nights prior to the nightmare are spent at the Stray Sheep bar. You get to talk to all of its troubled patrons who may also be suffering from the same nightmares you are having. Time does pass as you do things in the bar so make sure to talk to everyone if you can if you want them to avoid an unpleasant fate later. Another thing this place is good for is drinking. That sounds like an obvious tip but what I mean is that if Vincent drinks enough, it’ll affect his speed in the nightmare to come. A fun fact is that once you finish a glass, you’ll get a little bit of cocktail trivia like the difference between whisky and brandy.

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At the heart of it, Catherine is a story about commitment. It represents that point in life where you realise that you can’t be a kid forever. Sometimes to hang onto someone, you may have to marry them. It’s not just gross out horror and laugh out loud comedy, it’s also relationship drama.

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