For: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
When? Summer 2011

What’s it all about? A relationship simulator of sorts – though only if you happen to be dating a girl from Twin PeaksCatherine is an exploration of one man’s fear, anxiety and doubt as he enters into a treacherous love triangle with the objects of his affections Katherine and… Catherine.

That one man is Vincent, entering that stage in his relationship with long-term girlfriend Katherine that she’s begun to talk about commitment, the future and (whisper it) marriage. Something that Vincent is keen to keep on the back-burner for the time being.

Out on the town to drown his relationship sorrows, Vincent encounters the titular Catherine and his world starts falling apart. Beautiful, seductive, irresistible; she’s everything Vincent is missing in his current relationship. Cut to the next morning and Vincent wakes up with the beautiful Catherine sleeping next to him and a complete black-out on how that situation has come to pass – don’t worry about it Vincent, we’ve all been there.

Being the sensitive type he’s soon besieged by guilt, even suffering anxiety attacks and nightmares as a result. Should he tell Katherine, should he leave her, will he see Catherine again? It’s enough to send a guy insane and that very spiral is what makes the game’s content so distinct.

That Catherine is being produced by Katsura Hashino, director of Persona 3 and Persona 4, goes a long way to suggesting just how involved an experience it will be; Hashino one of only a few developers really challenging what games ‘are’ in his pursuit of perfection.

Take for example Vincent’s nightmares, where his fears and worries are manifested as horribly disfigured monsters, while a ticking clock constantly counts down what remains of his very sanity as Catherine and that night eat away at his soul. His waking hours aren’t much more fun either, whiled away as they are at the Stray Sheep Bar where he can talk to the clientele while texting pre-emptive texts to either would be girlfriend; anything for an easy life.

Worth the wait? Let’s hope so. It isn’t every day that a game comes along and challenges the player to assess the importance of honesty, addressing themes such as whether to come clean and tell the truth or pretend that nothing’s happened. The game’s anime style nicely fits the premise too, making this a very interesting package indeed. Rest assured we’ll bring you more on Catherine (and indeed the hapless Vincent) in the near future.