Atlus has a knack for making weird games, and Catherine is no exception. Imagine what it must be like for the folks at ESRB, checking out games all across the board and then having to assess them for public distribution.
The board's description and summary of Catherine is certainly interesting, given some of the specific scenarios it covers. The game is rated "M," obviously, for blood, partial nakedness, profanity, and other such mature themes.
Content descriptors: Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence
Rating summary: This is a puzzle adventure game in which players assume the role of Vincent, a man with relationship issues that are manifested in his dreams. The game transitions between animated cutscenes and puzzle stages (i.e., nightmares); in the nightmare world, players must help Vincent ascend crumbling towers by pushing, pulling, and climbing blocks to reach an exit. If players make the wrong move, they can be killed by spike traps and giant boss creatures (e.g., a demon bride, a chainsaw-wielding baby); death scenes are accompanied by exaggerated splashes of blood as Vincent is stabbed, crushed, shot, or bitten.
During one cutscene, a character is stabbed in the stomach with a knife; a large pool of blood quickly forms under her body. In order to move faster in the puzzles stages, players can order Vincent alcoholic beverages (e.g., mixed cocktails, beer, sake, whiskey); after three drinks, he begins to stumble around when moving. These sequences are accompanied by voice-over narration: “It’s said that chugging alcohol isn’t good for you, but sometimes it’s necessary” and “[T]ake a big swig of cognac!” Throughout the game, sex and sexuality are frequently referenced, sometimes while two characters are in bed together (e.g., “I finally became a man! Got rid of my V-card, BOOM,” “If the one you loved confessed to a sexual habit that you found absolutely unacceptable, what would you do?” and “After all you’ve done to my body . . . Night after night . . .”).
One bedroom sequence pans across a man’s legs, then to his curling toes; another scene briefly depicts a woman caressing her body while making suggestive comments (e.g., “I’ve got such a hunger for these feelings . . . I know you have some hungers as well, don’t you?” ). The game also depicts the central character surrounded by topless female demons—though shadow effects obscure most details. The words “f**k” and “sh*t” can be heard in the dialogue.
At least the sex scenes sound more interesting than what we've been seeing in BioWare's more recent RPGs. The game borrows from the popular urban legend involving death by dreams, where dying in your dreams can kill you in real life. Vincent is our protagonist, a man who finds himself torn between his long-time girlfriend Katherine and the mysterious (yet potentially deadly) Catherine. After cheating on the former with the latter, he is plagued by nightmares, mainly of guys transformed into sheep.
Catherine will be launching in North America on July 26 for Xbox 360 and PS3.