CIRCA:Catherine - A cultural bubble of commentary


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Based on a Presentation by Domini Gee (Prezi presentation).

Catherine is a puzzle-plat former adventure game released in Japan and North America in 2011. The game was a huge commercial and critical success and was lauded for its story, gameplay, voice acting, and unique approach towards ‘real-world’ topics.


Catherine is about a 32-year old office worker named Vincent Brooks who has little to no life ambitions, especially in terms of love and marriage. However, he begins having nightmares involving a tower that he must climb every night after his long term girlfriend, Katherine, begins talking about commitment and marriage. Further complications arise when he meets another girl named Catherine. Vincent finds himself in an affair with Catherine and his nightmares begin to intensify. While Vincent tries to manage his personal life during the day and survive the nightmares at night, he hears about a series of bizarre incidents in the neighbourhood in which young men die in their sleep with a look of agony on their faces. The story quickly spreads throughout the media, attracting widespread attention and theories as to the cause of death. A strange rumour begins to spread that if a person dreams of falling, then they must wake up before they hit the ground or they will be unable to wake up at all and will die. The progression in Catherine is broken into three segments:

  • Story, which plays out during the day and is mostly linear with little room for variance.
  • Exploration, which takes place at Vincent’s favorite bar, Stray Sheep. This area allows the most room for player freedom. Players can relax, practice puzzle solving on the arcade machine, interact with the rest of the cast, get drunk (which affects Vincent’s climbing speed during nightmares), and allows for choices that affect the Law-Chaos morality meter.

-Nightmares, which occur once Vincent goes to sleep. Vincent must continue to climb the tower until the end of the night or he dies. The gameplay is primarily based on block based puzzles where players must arrange and climb blocks to progress. As you progress through the game, the block combintions not only become more complex but they begin to include spike traps, teeth blocks, ice blocks and more. Additionally, you will eventually have to fight other ‘sheep' and at end of each night, Vincent must finish a boss level where bosses can do anything from raining hearts down on Vincent, to destroying blocks, to attacking him with chainsaws. What chiefly pulls the three segments together, though, is the overreaching question: what is Vincent's desires? What are the life choices that satisfy him?

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