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Sexy puzzle game Catherine is being almost universally lambasted for being of the “sadistically difficult” school of game design, to the extent where many players report not even being able to clear it on easy, let alone normal.

For the first time, Atlus has actually released a video concentrating on the gameplay and not the events – it is not hard to see why:

Reportedly many players have been forced to abandon their games at normal difficulty, and not a few find it impossible to complete even at easy.

A sampling of the player reviews which have emerged so far, with the game generally receiving an Amazon average of 3.7 out of 5:

“It’s addictive but very stressful. You only have a limited number of retries, but the puzzle gameplay can hook you.

However, losing all your lives and seeing the Game Over screen over and over, and being dumped back to the title screen and having to reload the game and rewatch/skip all the events is seriously tedious.

Why they limited the retries when you are just forced to reload it all and start over is the real puzzle in this game.”

“This is only for the hardcore. Be prepared if you buy it.”

“It has multiple endings but it’s a puzzle game and is so difficult I really wouldn’t want to play it through again.”

“Most of it is the puzzle parts, and they are fiendishly hard.”

“The action parts certainly are difficult. But I can’t help but think they are unnecessarily brutal…”

“They should have added some kind of relief for light gamers…”

“You certainly get a sense of accomplishment from beating something this difficult.”

“It’s too hard even on easy. I made the mistake of starting on normal and I got stuck later as I could get no further.”

“It is certainly so hard it may break you. But if you stick at it you may be able to clear it, I think!”

Practically every review, whether positive or negative, complains of excessive difficulty and overly punishing design.

Its mature content and well developed story are probably at odds with it being an insanely difficult puzzle game requiring hours of repetitive block pulling – one player puts it this way: “If you keep at it you can probably clear it, but I think most adult players will not take kindly to wasting all their precious time on the puzzle parts.”

That the game would be something of a disappointment was basically a given from the moment it emerged it was not an RPG and was (as the developers seemed strangely keen to conceal) in fact a block-pushing puzzle game, although Persona fans have generally extended considerable forbearance on the basis that it is supposed to be the immediate precursor to the development of Persona 5.

Whilst producing a super-hard puzzle game with a strong story is all very well (if a little strange), the real issue is whether the shade of Atlus can afford to make a lacklustre game given its precarious position – as little more than a brand owned by a mobile phone software company, it may be in danger of being further downsized to the point where it is no longer able or allowed to make full-scale console RPGs.

The game is available now for those with sufficiently masochistic personalities.


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    152 Comments
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    Avatar of Hyra911
    Comment by Hyra911
    21:03 19/02/2011 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    I almost fell asleep watching that video, way too boring...

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:30 20/02/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    srry if this is not a mindless shooter with infinite heal regeneration

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:08 19/02/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Dohoho, way to pass judgement on a game you haven't played.

    Protip: The gameplay is actually quite damn fun, albeit basic. What saves this game from repetition is the difficulty and the changing stages.

    Just saying.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:50 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Ok, Imma be pretty bold on this one:
    They've tried to sell us this game with BOOBS and MORE BOOBS.
    When I see boobs, I don't feel like thinking. Then can't expect me to accept that's exactly what I have to do through the whole game.

    PD:
    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBS.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:43 20/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Boss levels can get pretty intense, the regular stages get more interesting as you go on.

    The game really isn't as hard as people are making it up to be (at least so far). I'm currently on night 5 of 8 and I have had a few stages I had to replay a couple of times to get through but nothing too bad. The main difficulty is actually understanding how to use the core block mechanics.

    As the Rapunzel minigame though... that shit is hard. Played it 4 times so far (3 tries per play) and I'm only on level 6 of 64. Story is great as well, looking forward to the endings.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:15 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    This was the same kind of reaction demon souls got. In the end, people found out that it was probably one of the greatest games in the universe.

    Avatar of Kyon Theorist
    Comment by Kyon Theorist
    21:27 19/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    If that's the entirety of the games play style I think I'll pass. I liked the idea of a tough puzzle style game, but this was just way too repetitive and boring.

    Avatar of Dummy00001
    Comment by Dummy00001
    22:20 19/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Compare to the Tetris. It is no more boring than other puzzle games.

    What makes the particular puzzle game tedious and boring is how you recover from failing.

    Chess analogy: you have just learned the basic rules and were pitted immediately against world chess champion. A sure way to make you hate the chess...

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:58 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Games like Tetris and Peggle have more planning (e.g. setting up multiple lines to collapse with one piece, setting up chains, etc). Catherine seems to involve very little planning (you only see a couple rows ahead, there's little to "set up").

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:10 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Lol planning, Have you played the demo yet?

    some of the blocks needs to be "planned" to get it to "work" as a road to the final door.

    In the Level 2 Demo, I even found 2 ways to finish it. But this is just the demo. I haven't bought the real thing.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:39 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I've cleared Day 5 on normal so far, and while there may not be as much "planning" as in Tetris or the like, there are definitely times when moving an extra block has totally destroyed my path to the top or moving block Y before block X has completely messed things up.

    But yeah, there isn't much time to think because the level crumbles away really fast (except in the Quadrangle level it seems), and every third map has a grotesque boss messing with the landscape on top of that, so adding the need to plan in advance as much as Tetris would make the game almost impossible in my opinion.

    Comment by John Hayabusa
    13:29 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Dang! And I thought Ninja Gaiden was the hardest game on the planet.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:08 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    You might wanna lay off the ambien, brosef.

    Avatar of dMITIC
    Comment by dMITIC
    21:23 19/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.3)

    indeed, this game is waaaay too boring

    Comment by Rashid
    01:14 20/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    I suppose you played it, right?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:00 21/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's meant to test mental endurance too I think

    Avatar of VonTheCrazy
    Comment by VonTheCrazy
    22:52 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yes, a "must-not play" game thanks to puzzles and other gameplay issues, though the plot seems to be "okay" at least.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Translates into:

    "I'm a stupid fucktard that can't use my brain for half a second, thus making puzzle games impossible for me. I like the premise of the story, yet puzzle games aren't for me thanks to my mental disability.

    I am not the only one, as the internet seems filled with imbeciles like me. Makes me comfortable at night that I'm one of the cool guys in a place filled with insufferable neckbeards and other oddities that end up being nothing but the biggest shame their mothers could possibly have."

    Comment by คภєк๏
    23:21 19/02/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Translates into:

    "I can be rude because I'm anonymous."

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:42 20/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Wow you must have some strong standpoint (Like finishing the game in Hard while solving a Rubik Cube with your feet and decyphering a cryptogram based on numbers of Pi) to bash someone who has a different point of view

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:12 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Sry dude "Anonymous 23:31", but everybody has the right totheir opinion, it's a fact. But, when you insult or have no respect for someone, that's not a opinion, it's pure garbage. You know how I see your action... someone with low self-esteem.

    And von, I would suggest that you never enter the game of someone like this again. You just look bad trying to play on the same field. I don't think he care about what you said. You could compliment him and he will still bash you.

    Comment by คภєк๏
    07:07 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I also believe in freedom of opinion, but saying people only complain because they're "mentally challenged" is ridiculous.

    As for the juvenile personal attacks: my account name is a proper name, not a "Wapanese nickname". It's also a word in Greek.

    Avatar of VonTheCrazy
    Comment by VonTheCrazy
    00:07 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Question: Did you really understand Anonymous? I'll be redundant: I meant you wrote about yourself, I don't think I can be clearer than that so I'm sorry. lol

    Avatar of VonTheCrazy
    Comment by VonTheCrazy
    23:32 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Anonymous" you wrote your biography and it does summarizes your whole life quite well enough, so I as an engineer(that's my full-time job not the weekend one to relieve stress) don't think you're that dumb. Tell me when you'll release the book, okay? lol

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:42 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    @VonTheCrazy

    Oh gosh, like, thank you! I'll talk to a publisher to see if they, like, release it n' shit.

    No, seriously, way to counter my argument, you little guy.

    Avatar of VonTheCrazy
    Comment by VonTheCrazy
    23:51 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    As you confessed you have some intellectual problems, I'll explain it more clearly to you "Anonymous". My point was the fact that the gameplay seems to be repetitive and therefore boring. Have you overcome the fact that you're mentally-impaired and finally understood?

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:31 19/02/2011 # ! Drivel (-0.8)

    Translates into:

    "I'm a huge faggot with a Wapanese nickname and some stupid avatar of a probable tsundere blushing, which isn't all that different from being Anonymous".

    I'm not even trying to be all that rude (excluding for the tone, that's it), my point was the following:

    People dislike the puzzle gameplay, and bitch about it, because they're mentally challenged. Really, that's about it.

    You're free to express your opinions, yet I am also able to voice my counterpoints and complaints, before you type anything like "STFU BAWWW" or some other generic response.

    Avatar of cats2
    Comment by cats2
    21:45 19/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    In other words, save yourself tons and tons of frustration/time and just watch the cut scenes if you're interested in this game after knowing all the REAL details of it..

    Avatar of sumisumi
    Comment by sumisumi
    01:12 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    If you are just interested in the cutscenes.

    Believe it or not, there are plenty of people interested in the gameplay but not the story, (or just interested in both).

    Although the story certainly seems a lot more unique.

    I'm not even worried about this game yet since there are a bunch of other persona games I'd like to play first.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:58 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.3)

    There is nothing wrong with having a high difficulty. Too many games are way too easy in order to catch the attention of casual gamers.
    It is a nice change of pace if a game is actually challenging.

    Avatar of Kits
    Comment by Kits
    21:02 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I agree, games nowadays are relatively too easy. It's not a bad idea to place an impossible challenge every now and then.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:00 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Personally, the difficulty makes me want it more.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:38 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    ...not if it's Ninja Gaiden difficult.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:40 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I personally don't understand what people are crying about. It's an ATLUS game! It would be a glorious exception if one of their games WEREN'T hard as hell.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:50 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hard-core games are the ones that have become easier. In many American hard-core shooters (e.g. Gears of War, Killzone) you automatically heal just by resting. In many American action games (e.g. Skate) you "unlock skills" instead of learning them, so your character performs better even if the player doesn't improve.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:50 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hardcore games with infinite health? Now that's the funniest thing I've heard all day.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:48 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I love Gears but it's way too easy. Especially in the 2nd one, where you can take a break behind a boulder or something and eat a sandwich while your squadmates rape all the bad guys. And that's on the "hardcore" difficulty, too. :(

    Comment by Anonymous

    Fuck, off.

    It's not challenging, it's not even hard, it's just tedious.

    The whole 'difficulty' comes from fact that developers were too lazy to implement QuickSave/QuickLoad buttons.

    Avatar of Dia
    Comment by Dia
    21:05 19/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.3)

    It looks pretty good for a PSP game.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:28 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I'd get some glasses in your position, it's a PS360 game.

    Avatar of TC-man
    Comment by TC-man
    22:04 19/02/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    On the other hand, if this is a puzzle game, then it's suitable for a portable handheld like the PSP or even DS.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:51 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    @23:47 It's more close-minded of you to respond that way. Who said 'only'? The game is just more suitable for portable gaming for how it plays.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:00 22/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    yeah guys you can totally play a multiplayer fps on your smart phones! you can't even tell the difference from playing on a console!

    Avatar of TC-man
    Comment by TC-man
    01:00 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    @ 23:47 Anon

    I did say it's suitable for portable handhelds, but I didn't say it HAS to be only on the portable handhelds PSP or DS, with other words it could also come to the PSP/DS next to the console versions. Capice?

    Also what I had said have nothing to do with narrow- and/or close-mindedness.

    Comment by Anonymous

    I don't get why people are so close-minded. Saying that x type of game can only be on y type of platform is just stupid. Play the damn demo yourself and you'll see that it works just fine on a PS3.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:09 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Should play the Demo before you say anything. The game actually looks pretty damn good.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:07 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah I dunno what Atlus was thinking. Professor Layton has WAAAAAAAAAY better graphics than this. Hell, even Tetris on the NES looked better.

    Avatar of Shizu's Waki Obsessor: MaidNiac
    22:38 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    All we're sure is that dude's going to wake up from those "nightmares" with buffed up biceps and muscles on his bed..

    Avatar of VonTheCrazy
    Comment by VonTheCrazy
    22:59 19/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    And I believe in sarcasm.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:29 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    just like demons souls, danm hard but u keep playing

    Avatar of alidan
    Comment by alidan
    04:55 20/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    demon souls was hard?

    once i got the game mechanics down, i stopped dieing almost completely. i would say the worst was 5 times a level my first play though, and most of those were traps or the fuck you enemies, you know, the ones that are obscenely hard unless you know the pattern.






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