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The new port of Catherine for PC is pretty barebones, but this cult classic story is hard to resist in 4K resolution with an unlocked frame rate.
Sega has just released a surprise PC release of the iconic Catherine in the form of a new "Catherine Classic" package - not to be confused with the currently unreleased Catherine: Full Body, which is something of a Director's Cut of the game. Catherine Classic, on the other hand, is a straight port of a game that was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 a few years ago. It's the story of hapless twenty-something Vincent, who finds himself trapped in a deadly love triangle between his longtime partner Katherine and the mysterious Catherine.
If you don't know much about Catherine, I don't feel like explaining. This is a game that has its craziness better experienced, but here is the short pitch: Catherine is a puzzle game where you desperately complete time-limited puzzles in the main character Vincent's nightmares - and if he dies in his dreams, he dies in real life. Meanwhile, anime and real-time cutscenes guide you through a winding story with player choice, where your decisions affect Vincent's karma and ultimately the game's ending. Quirky, but overall good.
We jumped in quickly to see what to expect. Sega's boast worked perfectly: the game runs at resolutions up to 4K, offers an unlocked frame rate (or easily locked to 60 even on weaker hardware), and pretty decent default keyboard and mouse controls, in part because Catherine is a relatively simple puzzle game, which makes it easy to control. Here's a look at Vincent's dreaming face in 4K (and much more below):
As for the rest of the port, things are pretty competent. Catherine Classic supports resolutions up to 4K, as seen above, and it looks very nice and crisp. The game's art style, which mimics story sequences from anime that are actually traditionally animated, lends itself well to this kind of high resolution. As mentioned earlier, you can either unlock the refresh rate fully or let it circulate at 60, and at this point even more modest gaming setups should be able to get the game running at a solid 60 fairly easily.
Further video options allow you to change V-Sync, Depth of Field, Bloom, Blur and Anti-Aliasing, but this is also one of the more bare-bones console ports - there's not much to discuss beyond that. This is basic, but solid material.
Also included - and perhaps most noteworthy for hardcore fans - are English and Japanese language dubbing. I've always found Catherine's translation to be pretty good - a charming cast, often disarmingly funny performances that make the game's wild, crazy world come alive - but if you're the type who prefers the original Japanese dubbing, this is the option for you.
The port isn't exactly perfect, though that's largely due to circumstances beyond Atlus' control. Pre-rendered sequences in the anime or using in-game graphics are compressed and rough in 4K, likely a bug from when they were created and compressed with 1080p and Xbox 360 DVDs in mind. Then there's the odd issue of the timing of this port's release: Catherine Full Body will be released very soon in Japan and a little later in the West, meaning players are getting what will soon be an incomplete version of the experience as a new release - even though it's only $20.
Overall, though, it's a solid package, and Catherine is still full of charm in the way she presents her quirky, mind-bending storylines - even if the way she approaches some themes is deeply flawed. At the end of the day, it's a great introduction to the kind of story and tone that the development team likes to use in their Persona series titles - just wrapped up in a more reasonable game rather than an eighty-hour RPG epic. It's a cult classic for a reason, and as such Catherine Classic is a welcome addition to my Steam library.
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