Finally, after all these months of teasing and waiting, being fed bits and pieces of game play and story information by Atlus, they have released a demo into the wild on the PSN and Xbox Live only a few weeks before the game sees its official release in Japan. No one really knows what to expect, even after all this time, so I was ecastatic to finally get my hands on the demo and see some of the game play up close and personal. Oh, and we’ll get pretty close to that hottie Catherine, too, you just wait.
The demo gives you two action segments, which bookend about 10 minutes of story sequences in the form of cut scenes. I honestly had no idea what was going on in the cut scenes, because I don’t speak Japanese. The first scene shows Vincent and his girlfriend, Katherine, dining together at a restaurant. Then the scene moves to the Stray Sheep Bar, where Vincent hangs out with his buddies and is apparently your “base of operations” within the game world itself. Here you can send and receive text messages and perform game functions.
At the tail end of the Stray Sheep Bar scenes, you see Catherine approach Vincent, but only get a quick glimpse of her torso and posterior, which likely will keep you wanting more. But, the interesting and fun part of the demo, at least at this point, are the two action sequences.
The demo starts with one of these, and you have to make a fairly easy climb to the top of the first dungeon. The only thing you really have to worry about here is that, every so often, a bunch of bricks collapse and fall into the nothingness below. If you don’t have enough upward mobility, you will fall and you will go splat way down below. But, this first dungeon is fairly straightforward and simple.
You use the Circle button on the DualShock 3 controller to grab on to the bricks as you ascend the structure. You can then hit left or right, forward or backward, to move the bricks around and position them as you need them to climb up to the next level. You can also drop down and hang on to the edges of the blocks if you need to get around them or otherwise maneuver them in such a way that you would drop down the side. If you make a mistake, you can hit the Select button to undo your last “move”, a feature which will only be available in the final game’s easy mode (that is the mode the demo is set on).
If you simply want to climb, without moving any blocks, just use the left analog stick. If you tried, as I did, to use a button to climb, Vincent will just grab on to the block instead. You’ll also notice piles of cash and other objects around, which can be picked up and grant various bonuses.
The second dungeon, which comes near the end of the demo after a large portion of the cut scenes, is, however, a bit more intense. First off, the climb is more tricky – after all, maneuvering blocks to progress upward is one big puzzle. This time, not only do blocks fall out below you, but this gigantic monster with a huge fork is chasing you. Yes, I said a HUGE fork. Every so often the monster will swipe at the structure, turning a bunch of regular blocks into immovable ones, thus limiting your choices and making you think outside the box.
Also, if the monster gets too close, he will seriously use that fork to rip Vincent apart, leading to failure. After a few tries, I did make it to the top, but when I let go of my controller, my hands were sweating and I noticed my heart was racing. It was an intense experience! I know some people had reservations about the game play, but I’m going to tell you right now it is a hell of a ride, just in these two simple levels that were included in the demo. I’m even more on board now than I was before, knowing that the game play is going to be just as great as the story is likely to be.
If you have a Japanese PSN account, I highly advise that you download the Catherine demo and try it out, you really owe it to yourself to see what this title is all about. The game hits stores in Japan on February 22, 2011, and we will definitely all be keeping our fingers crossed for a North American release announcement sometime soon.
(If you want to check out the entire demo in video form, hit up the goods below, recorded by VideoGameConnection.)