Catherine was quite the experience. It was a love story, a nightmare, and a moral dilemma rolled into a sort of puzzle platformer format. Players are presented with real-life questions throughout, and their answers determine the events and outcome of the story, while the action segments depict perfectly what it must be like trying to claw your way out of Hell. There are few other games like it, so if you haven’t seen or played it yet, it might be a good idea to do so before watching this speedrun so you get the full package.
This hard mode run of Catherine is brought to you by Isuyaru (Isusaur on Youtube) with an hour-thirty-seven completion time. Catherine’s puzzles center around positioning blocks in a massive vertical wall. Doing so requires a great deal of logic, spatial reasoning, and timing. Given the nature of moving the blocks, it’s easy to believe that routes through the stages are 99% planning and mapping since the execution consists mostly of shuffling the blocks around. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to take your eyes off of the action. It’s horrid and mesmerizing at the same time, and though all sense of story is cut out from the speedrun, the feeling of strife and hellishness remains solidly intact.
Catherine’s stages get increasingly macabre as the game progresses, and Vincent’s mental and emotional state teeters on the precipice throughout as his day to day life threatens to rob him of everything. It’s a masterpiece of an experience, and even the “negative” ending delivers a sense of satisfaction and power. Everything you see and hear is a metaphor for something else, yet none of it gets in the way of playing the game for the sake of playing the game.
As strange as Catherine is, it just might lose out to Earthbound in terms of sheer orneriness.