Catherine was one of the more intriguing games to release on the PS3.
Now something of a cult classic, at its release its wacky humour and difficult puzzles made for niche appeal. From the same developers as Shin Megami Tensei, and the Persona series, this bizarre tale of love, lust and block puzzles endeared itself over time. With a release of the original game on the PC, and the release of the updated “Full Body” edition on other consoles, Switch owners now have the (expensive) option to delight in this delightful, irrepressibly horny game.
If you’re new to Catherine, you play as Vincent, an uncertain man somewhat tired of his relationship with Katherine. At a chance encounter at his favourite bar he meets the mysterious Catherine, who soon beds him. After he falls asleep however, he is sent to a disturbing world of sheep, where he must complete climbing block puzzles to climb ever upwards and finally, potentially, escape. It’s much like any Persona game, with one side a narrative-driven social almost visual novel, and the other more action-focused. The two interact, but for the most part they are quite different, though Full Body starts to bridge the gap a little more.
For those who have played the original game on PS3 or PC, there have been a range of significant changes to the game that in my opinion make playing through the story again (if you’re not here for the puzzles, then setting it to “Easy” allows you to autoclimb”) worth your time. Most significant is the introduction of third character Rin, who Vincent saves and helps rehabilitate. Rin’s introduction to the story adds new cinematics, changes existing situations and has a fairly significant impact on how the story unfolds overall. I could imagine some purists could be annoyed with Rin’s addition, but this new character has been carefully woven throughout the game’s story, and introduces some interesting changes to the narrative that I think benefit the story as a whole.
Some of the dialogue that hasn’t held up over time has been amended, and the game runs at a higher resolution with slightly enhanced graphics. An even easier than “Easy” mode has been introduced called “Safety.” This removes game overs and time limits, and introduces the ability to skip a puzzle. This makes it easier for those who care more about the story than puzzles to power through those sections without fear of being unnecessarily stuck.
On the other side, for those who love the puzzles there are a range of enhancements that up the ante in difficulty. There’s a new remix play mode for the entire game (the original version can be played as “classic” mode) which adds some new mechanics and mixes up the puzzles. The Babel and Colosseum mode support online play, and there’s a new online battle mode.
Most importantly however “undos” have replaced the lives system. On Normal you now have 3 undos, taking back your most recent action rather than reducing a total amount of lives. This allows for a much more flexible and forgiving system, yet still maintains the pressure. It also means I felt the game was “fairer” when I made a mistake rather than punishing me for pushing the wrong button unintentionally.
Given the Western release of Catherine for the PS Vita is seemingly vapourware, the portability of the Switch version automatically makes it one of the best versions in my book. The game looks and runs great in portable mode, and looks right at home on the handheld system. Given the game’s contents however, you will want to be careful about what could be shown on public transport.
Between the online modes and revamped Babel and Colosseum modes, Atlus have done a good job listening to the community and increasing the staying power and replayability of the game. Now Atlus just needs to bring the Full Body updates to the PC version (alongside Persona 5 to the PC and Switch please).
If you’ve played Full Body on PS4 already then the Switch version won’t be much different, but if you’ve been waiting for it to come to Switch, or were disappointed in the PC release, the Switch port feels right at home.
Released: July 2020
Platforms: Nintendo Switch