Okay, now that I've played the demo for Catherine, I... well, I have to admit I'm still a little lost. All I can say with any certainty is that the main character, Vincent, is my new videogame boyfriend. If he's having trouble committing to a woman, maybe it's time he tried the other side... I'm just saying, is all...
Seriously, though, the demo for Atlus' new action/adventure/puzzle game is quite a mind trip. You begin with a puzzle level, then watch a bunch of cut scenes, then respond to a text message, then watch some more cut scenes, then play another puzzle level, then watch another cutscene. After which, the demo ends, and you just watch some random clips from the game that seem to include some actual exploration and whatnot that isn't included in the demo.
The puzzles are a wall of blocks that you have to scale by pulling and pushing them into place to create steps. There are bonus items along the way that are good to pick up, although sometimes it can be tricky, and as the bottom of the level continues to fall away, you can't really waste time. You have to get to the top as quickly as possible. You also get bonus points for doing it fast. On the first puzzle, I was awarded a silver trophy, but on the second one, I had to use a few continues and only got a bronze. It was tricky. Especially since in the second puzzle level of the demo, there are these giant hands trying to grab you and stab you with a fork. Yeah, a fork. Look, I don't pretend to understand it, so don't expect me to help it make sense to you, too!
The cutscenes are a mix of traditional cel anime and in-game 3D character models. There's no real transitions between them to speak of, so it's a little off-putting when it switches. I kind of wish they'd gone with one or the other, but I don't know which I would've preferred. The in-game models look better, but the animation on the anime versions gets across the emotions more effectively. And the story is clearly important in Catherine. The symbolism isn't exactly subtle, but it's kind of amusing to watch Vincent being so terrified of commitment. The puzzles were quite challenging, especially with the time limit, and the demo only offers you easy difficulty. There's still medium and hard in the full retail version if you're a glutton for punishment.
I feel like the demo for Catherine gives you a little taste of what the game will be like, but not a complete picture. It was just the puzzle bits and some cutscenes. Oh, and the part where Katherine sends you a text message about how she's out with all her friends who are married. It's up to you to choose your responses and whether you want to be a sweetheart or a jerk. I straddled the middle, saying it bothered me sometimes, too, but adding that we didn't have to always compare ourselves to others. The way you do it is to press a button to see the message, and then you can accept that line, or delete it and see what the next option is. Your responses will apparently change how people think of you and how the game goes, but obviously that's not available in the demo gameplay.
Still, the demo did what it's supposed to do, which is finally show me what it would be like to play Catherine, and make me extremely curious to try the game when it comes out later this month. (If only to enjoy Vincent running around in his pink polka dot boxers some more!)