‘Catherine’ is a video game designed for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 who has garnered a lot of attention due to its gameplay as well as its labeling as an ‘adult-oriented’ game. However, if you are expecting to see any kind of nudity or sex in this video game, you would be disappointed. Somehow, ‘Catherine’ manages to talk about sex and relationships, but without showing you anything raunchy or racy.
Still, it would be an injustice to forget pointing out that Catherine is a sexy blonde thing, designed in the well known anime style, with big blue eyes, and curly hair, an ideal woman for the main protagonist. To understand ‘Catherine’ and its ties to the subject of sex, we need to take a closer look at the story.
The game is made so you can experience two main types of gameplay. One is more resembling to a virtual novel, where you are taken through dialogues, without doing much, but a few actions – also called the Daytime gameplay – and the other is the arcade mode, illustrating the Nighttime gameplay, where you are basically solving puzzles to save yourself.
You play the role of Vincent Brooks, a guy in his late 20s or so, who is faced with probably the most challenging problem of his life so far. His girlfriend, Katherine McBride (really, the guys could not be more transparent about the woman’s intentions) is starting to pressure him into committing since they are together for more than 5 years.
Vincent is not exactly thrilled with what Katherine wants, and, actually, he is quite scared of getting too involved, despite having feelings for his girlfriend. In the same time, in his neighborhood, there are some strange things going on, as young men, around the same age as Vincent, start dying in their sleep, with no medical explanation being identified.
Rumor has it that all these young men are suffering such a tragic end, because they dream of falling, and, as they are not able to wake up, they simply die in their sleep.
Vincent is spending most of his days in a bar called The Stray Sheep – again, a well picked name – where one day, shortly after having that serious conversation with his girlfriend, he meets a beautiful stranger who seems to be anything he wants.
The stranger’s name is Catherine, and she almost throws herself into herarms, taking Vincent by surprise. One look at the stranger’s boobs, and Vincent is all smitten. Although the girl does not seem to have too much in terms of personality, she is exactly what Vincent dreams of, and the opposite of what Katherine, the girlfriend, represents. She is the embodiment of freedom, she hates commitment, and she wants nothing but have hot casual sex with Vincent.
The two end up together that night, but this is, strangely, the only time when Vincent has a clear memory of having sex with Catherine. Right after that, he starts having nightmares, where he is part human, part sheep, and has to climb weird flights of stairs, by pulling, pushing, jumping, and doing everything in his powers to climb further and further, to avoid falling down.
He suspects right away that his nightmares may be related to the alarming deaths among young men in his neighborhood. He is not alone in his nightmares, as he sees other anthropomorphic sheep trying to escape.
After spending night after night in his nightmares, Vincent always wakes up with Catherine next to him. However, he remembers nothing of having sex with her, although everything around him points out that he did that the previous night.
Unfortunately for players, despite ‘Catherine’ having sex as one of the main themes, nothing notable can be seen when Vincent wakes up, almost naked, next to an equally – apparently nude – Catherine. The good parts are always covered by furniture, the TV or other things, so that the player can only get a hint of what is going on.
Despite the way the characters are drawn – and the fact that it is a Japanese game – ‘Catherine’ is far from being a hentai game. Even Catherine, despite her obvious sexiness, is not very sexualized, although, as we find out later in game, she is a succubus, a sex demon who sucks the life out of young men, because they are unable to commit to real women.
Realizing that he started having nightmares since he started cheating on his girlfriend with Catherine, Vincent decides to break up with her, and see what will happen. Catherine is absolutely desperate, she even assaults him, and tells him that he can marry Katherine and have kids, but still be with her.
As soon as Vincent dumps Catherine, his nightmares stop, but, when his girlfriend comes to see him, the blonde suddenly appears in his room, accusing and trying to stab Katherine. The succubus’ violent action backfires and she is stabbed instead. Vincent is trying to protect his girlfriend, and solve the situation, but the setting changes again, and he is trapped along with her in the same stair like maze. He manages to take her out and tells Katherine that he loves her.
After that, Vincent wakes up again to realize that all was a nightmare, and not reality. Asking around about Catherine, he discovers that she seems to have just dematerialized; no one remembers her, her contact details from his phone are gone, there are no more pictures of her and it looks like it was all something that happened in his own head.
There are various endings to ‘Catherine’ the player can experience. He can choose Katherine or Catherine, or he can be free. The game is very challenging in its arcade puzzle mode, and very intriguing in its Daytime mode.
The action in Catherine boils down to one question that can be pure torture for young men: commitment or freedom? This is what the two women in Vincent’s life represent, and his struggle is, in its most part, about choosing one or the other.
Despite the sex content in ‘Catherine’ being incredibly scarce, it is very commendable that the creators tried to bring forward a mature theme. Since video games are not only for kids, and there are many adults playing them, more games where sex or other mature themes are present are definitely needed. For this reason, we decide to include ‘Catherine’ in our collection of mainstream games where sex plays an important role.