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Geek Out

Girl Problems

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WOMEN! Am I right, fellas?

Half of 'em want you to get a real job, get married, and have kids. The other half want to seduce you into a psychic hellscape populated solely by anthropomorphic livestock and the physical incarnations of your worst fears.

Also, block puzzles. So many, many block puzzles.

Before I'm branded a bizarrely specific sexist, know that I'm speaking on behalf of Vincent, the 32-year-old slacker protagonist of Atlus' Catherine. It's a game from the same people who created the brilliant Persona 3 and the somehow even more brilliant Persona 4, and while it shares a similar "high-quality anime" aesthetic, Catherine isn't your typical role-playing game. The critics have dubbed the game an "erotic horror puzzle-platforming interactive adventure," which is as accurate as it is totally nonsensical.

In sum, Catherine is two disparate game types jammed together: Half the time you'll be interacting with Vincent's friends and trying desperately to claw your way out of the romantic entanglement he finds himself in, while the flipside of the game sees Vincent in a dream world where he has to ascend various towers by pushing, pulling, and climbing a few thousand gigantic blocks.

Superficially, the mash-up is very much of the "chocolate and mayonnaise" variety. In practice though, it somehow works really well. Not to be too pretentious about it, but the heavy contrast between these two parts of Catherine has a very jarring mental effect on players, which effectively mirrors Vincent's deteriorating sanity and the unstable world he lives in, being pulled in opposite directions by the two women in his life.

Actually, that's probably the key selling point for this game: Even without its gorgeous art, phenomenal soundtrack, and addictive puzzle mechanics, Catherine would still be an incredibly well-told story centering on the classic theme of "boy meets girl." And another girl. And magical ants. And murderous sheep. And a shrieking vagina monster.

So, ya'know, basically Shakespeare.

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