Catherine (Sony PlayStation 3, 2011)
Intended for mature players, Catherine is an unusual action-adventure game that involves the commitments of love, the compellations of lust, and the unsettling perils of a nightmarish alternate reality. The story centers on Vincent, a man in his prime who becomes torn between his desires for two different women. The game is played in two indirectly related settings. During the day, Vincent spends his time at the corner bar, an establishment called the "Stray Sheep," which seems to exist here in the "real" world. At night, however, when he falls asleep, Vincent visits a surreal realm populated by deadly traps, hideous monsters, and an imposing number of bipedal sheep, which are sometimes involved in solving some of the game's platform-climbing puzzles.<br><br>Most of the action in the game takes place in the nightmare realm, where Vincent must build stairs by pushing and pulling large blocks, and climb to safety before time runs out. Sometimes, the hero must also defeat tricky boss characters in order to survive his night's sleep. While awake and at the bar, in the daytime mode of play, Vincent can send text messages to other characters. He can also order drinks that will later endow him with enhanced abilities, in the action-oriented nightmare setting. The game gauges Vincent's morality, based not on major plot points but on small decisions and dialog-tree selections he makes throughout the adventure. Players' choices in these matters affect the development and conclusion of the story. <br><br>A troubling malady has beset Vincent's neighborhood. Healthy young men are dying in their sleep, discovered in the morning with anguished grimaces frozen on their faces. As these disturbing stories spread to the media, rumors begin to circulate, involving the hypothesis that when a person dreams of falling and does not wake up, he dies in his sleep. While sitting in the bar one day, contemplating marriage to his long-time girlfriend Katherine, Vincent meets a beautiful woman who has the same name but spells it differently -- Catherine. He is unable to resist his the instant passion he feels for her, and she seems eager to requite his affections. Once the two new acquaintances spend a dreamy evening together, however, Vincent's nightmares begin.<br><br>Characters and settings are rendered in virtual 3D with an anime-inspired art style. Along with the main single-player adventure, same-screen two-player modes are available, with cooperative and competitive options. Catherine was developed by the Atlus team behind Japan's popular Shin Megami Tensei: Persona games, with visual design by Shigenori Soejima and music composed by Shoji Meguro.