Catherine was created by the same team behind the Persona series (making it the Persona Team's first next-generation console effort), including Shigenori Soejima as the artist, Shoji Meguro as a composer and Katsura Hashino as director and producer. It was developed alongside Persona 3 Portable, and many of the major characters have their voices provided by actors and actresses who worked with previous entries in the Megami Tensei series, especially the Persona series.
While not directly related to the Megami Tensei series, it includes many elements common to the franchise such as moral questions that relate to the ultimate outcome, mythological elements, and themes of the conflict between order and freedom. It also includes multiple references to the Persona series, and so is commonly grouped in with the Megami Tensei franchise.
A port of the game to PC, titled Catherine Classic, was released on January 10, 2019 via Steam. Unlike the console original, the port features 4K resolution and unlocked framerates.
An enhanced re-release, titled Catherine: Full Body released on February 14, 2019 for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in Japan, and was released in North America and Europe exclusively for the PlayStation 4 on September 3, 2019 with dual audio. Full Body was released on the Nintendo Switch in Japan on July 2, 2020, with a North American and European release on July 7, 2020.
Catherine follows the story of Vincent Brooks, an aimless young man, the titular Catherine and Vincent's girlfriend, Katherine McBride, who wishes for Vincent to be more proactive with their relationship. Vincent, however, is not sure about his feelings. One day, he meets the charming Catherine and ends up spending the night with her. From that night onward, Vincent is thrust further and further into nightly nightmares in which he is forced to climb a tower while being pursued by monstrous personifications of his personal fears and doubts as well as meets others who share his fate. As the story progresses, Vincent has to choose between Katherine and Catherine.
- Vincent Brooks - Vincent is a 32-year old systems engineer. He is trying to escape the pressures of adult life: his job, his love life, and the prospect of marriage. He appears to drift aimlessly through life and spends most of his nights at the Stray Sheep bar. His English VA is Kanji's VA, Troy Baker.
- Katherine McBride - Also 32 years old, Katherine is Vincent's intelligent, serious, and long-term girlfriend who works as a manager for clothing company Bantam Suits. She and Vincent were classmates in high school, but they only started dating after they met again at their 10-year reunion. Katherine has been thinking more and more about their relationship and wants him to fully commit to her, but his indecisiveness is starting to increasingly annoy her as time goes by. Her English VA is Yukari's VA, Michelle Ruff.
- Catherine - A seductive young woman who appears before Vincent one night and immediately throws his relationship with Katherine in jeopardy. She embodies the freedom and lack of commitment that Vincent longs for and pursues him without holding back. Her English VA is Rise's VA, Laura Bailey.
- Orlando Haddick - Orlando is a regular at the Stray Sheep and is a longtime friend of Vincent, Jonny, and Erica. Having been married and divorced, he has a rather cynical view of love and marriage. He lives for himself, going with the flow, and the way he comports himself corresponds with his easygoing nature. He is blunt and pessimistic when giving Vincent advice. His English VA is Akihiko's and Kei's VA, Liam O'Brien.
- Jonathan "Jonny" Ariga - He is old friends with Vincent, Orlando, and Erica. A regular at the Stray Sheep, he works at his father's used car dealership, which he hopes to inherit. Despite an outwardly subdued demeanor, he has an optimistic view of the value of true love and has no intentions of having a serious relationship until he meets his soulmate. His English VA is Theo's and Tadashi's VA, Travis Willingham.
- Tobias "Toby" Nebbins - Toby is a coworker of Jonny who began coming to the Stray Sheep in order to make new friends. An immature, but kind-hearted young man, he begins to show interest in the waitress, Erica. His English VA is Yosuke's, Ryoji's and the Persona 3 protagonist's VA, Yuri Lowenthal.
- Erica Anderson - Erica is the waitress at the Stray Sheep and a childhood friend of Vincent, Jonny, and Orlando. She is prone to gossip and loves rumors. Erica is especially disappointed to learn of Vincent's infidelity and pushes him to be considerate of Katherine's feelings. Only her old friends appear to be aware she is transgender. Her English VA is Chie's VA in Golden and Arena, Erin Fitzgerald.
- Boss - The mysterious owner of the Stray Sheep who is known only as "Boss". He knows his customers well and always seems to have advice for them, as well as makes opportunities to introduce his patrons to one another. In his youth, he is rumored to have been a ladies' man, which is why it's said he always wears sunglasses, even indoors. His English VA is Mr. Morooka's VA, Kirk Thornton.
- Trisha - The hostess of the Golden Playhouse, the framing device through which the story is told, as well as of the other modes such as Babel and Colosseum. A confident woman, she is most notable for the large, bright red afro hairstyle she uses. As it turns out, however, "Trisha" is merely an anagram and alias. Erin Fitzgerald also provides her English voice.
- Astaroth - An avatar of Ishtar whom she uses to seek out a new consort under the guise of punishing sinners. Yuri Lowenthal also provides his English voice.
- Rin (exclusive to Full Body) - An amnesiac who moves in next door to Vincent's apartment. Rin loves to play the piano. This piano playing can actually momentarily stop the blocks from collapsing during the Nightmare Stages. If Rin's route is chosen, there is a unique final stage. Rin's English VA is Brianna Knickerbocker.
The gameplay in the Golden Playhouse is split between daily life and Vincent's nightmares, which make up the action part of the game. During the daytime, players visit a bar, meet Vincent's friends and can play minigames. Additionally, players may receive text messages from other NPCs and have the option to answer them. Through this, the players can lead the storyline into different paths and receive different endings (players will be clued into this because a Karma meter will appear, with the needle moving according to choices). In between floors of the Nightmare stages, Vincent sits in a confessional booth and the player is given a philosophical question that will affect the Karma meter, i.e. "Does life begin or end with marriage?"
During the Nightmare sequences, Vincent is subjected to the Great Trials, which take place in a large tower with eight areas, some with multiple floors. With its lopsided but foreboding look, it has a striking resemblance to Tartarus from Persona 3 and its re-releases. It represents a progression from death and judgment towards life and the heavens.
Its areas are:
- Underground Cemetery
- Prison of Despair
- Torture Chamber
- Clock Tower
- Spiral Corridor
- The Cathedral
- The Empireo (Katherine or Catherine) / Close Encounter (Rin, Full Body only) – (in the heavens above the tower - Vincent faces this alone)
Each man is subjected to one area every night, and surviving one area allows the chance to return each successive night to face the next until the end. Trapped in a tower-like building with others in his plight on a large batch of blocks, he has to climb upwards while the bottom of the stage falls and has to get to the door at the highest point of the stage to escape his nightmare and stay alive. An added challenge appears at the end of each stage - as part of the last trial of the night, each man who is still alive must also face a monster representing one of his fears or sorrows. If a man falls off the tower (or fails otherwise), he also dies in real life, withering away with an agonized look - and before the game begins, only three have survived in the course of the Trials so far. Players have, however, the option to continue from the last checkpoint (and can obtain more continues along the way), and can use an Undo option on every difficulty level except Hard.
The game has various difficulty settings and is noted to be quite a challenge even at the lowest difficulty. Due to the complaints of various players from Japan shortly after its domestic release, Catherine received a patch which lowered the difficulty by adding ways to make the game easier. Atlus also made a series of videos for the game's official site to give players hints and tricks for the game.
Besides the Golden Playhouse, players can participate in Babel, which is a Challenge Mode of sorts with an online ranking and includes the game's toughest challenge, Axis Mundi. In Babel, the block arrangements change each time, unlike in the Golden Playhouse, meaning that players must rely on technique and not memorization of layouts. Clearing the Golden Playhouse also unlocks Colosseum Mode, a 2-player versus mode that has been used in fighting-game-style tournaments.
The added content of Full Body includes:
- Rin with three endings.
- A new ending option each for Katherine and Catherine.
- The protagonist of Persona 5 is available as a DLC character in both Babel and Colosseum Mode, with the Phantom Thieves of Hearts cheering him on in Babel Mode. Clearing the first Babel stage, Altar, with him unlocks a special cutscene involving Trisha and the Phantom Thieves in Café Leblanc.
- Box Art
In Other Languages
- Before Catherine's localization was officially revealed on March 1, 2011, an Atlus employee joked that the game was currently for Japan only.
- Catherine features numerous easter eggs that reference Persona titles.
- The Great Trials' tower's resemblance to Tartarus.
- To the far right of the entrance/exit to the Stray Sheep, a Persona 3 poster can be seen. It is best viewed by exiting the bar and panning the camera to the farthest right.
- There is a Gekkoukan High School (from Persona 3) emblem in the Stray Sheep as well. It's seen best during certain cutscenes that take place in the bar.
- Teddie has a cameo appearance as a stuffed animal at the Stray Sheep and can also be seen on a poster in the bathroom of the bar with his head partially covered by words. In Full Body, plushes of Morgana and Koromaru appear alongside the Teddie plush. There is also a Teddie plush and Morgana plush in Rin's bathroom and bedroom, respectively.
- During the in-game cutscenes in Vincent's room, you will sometimes see his bookshelf that is filled with green books titled Persona.
- By completing objectives in the game, it is possible to unlock music from Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner, Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner 2, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, Persona 3, Persona 3 FES, and Persona 4 in the Stray Sheep's jukebox. For example, obtaining Katherine's Good Ending awards the Iwatodai Dorm BGM from Persona 3.
- The Golden Playhouse storyline is a retelling of a Lovers Arcana tale where a man has to choose between a young blonde representing physical attraction and a mature woman representing romantic and intellectual attraction. Vincent takes the role of the man, while Catherine is the young blonde and Katherine is the mature woman. In an added Persona-related twist, both are voiced in English by actresses who have voiced Lovers Arcana Social Link characters: Yukari's English VA Michelle Ruff voices Katherine while Rise's English VA Laura Bailey voices Catherine.
- In a mild Persona 4 reference, one of the bosses that Vincent has to face is his own Shadow. It can also be argued that other bosses take the form of characters' Shadows (for example, Katherine, whose manifestations/Shadows are the Fist of Grudge and Doom's Bride.)
- In Full Body, Persona 5 songs were added to the Stray Sheep's Jukebox. In addition, Joker can be downloaded as a playable character.
- The development of this game was first subtly hinted at when Persona 3 Portable was released. After a certain day passed, Vincent appeared as a new NPC named "Man Drinking Alone" at Club Escapade. His appearance was special as he had a character portrait, something very unusual for unnamed NPCs.
- In episode 5 of Persona 4 The Animation, when Ai Ebihara calls Yu Narukami, the ringtone of his cell phone is the musical composition Zigeunerweisen, written in 1878 by the Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate, which is the Game Over (Love Is Over) music track in Catherine.
- A calendar with the game's artwork can be seen in Yu Narukami's bedroom during the opening of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
- Costumes resembling the outfits of characters from Catherine can be downloaded for the Phantom Thieves of Hearts in Persona 5 as DLC. For example; the protagonist is given Vincent Brooks' outfit, Yusuke Kitagawa is given Jonathan Ariga's outfit, Haru Okumura is given Erica Anderson's outfit, etc.
- Contrary to the other games in the Megami Tensei franchise, with Nocturne and Persona 5 Royal being the only exceptions, this game has been translated into European languages. If one does consider Catherine as part of the franchise, it makes Catherine the second game available in French and German, but also the first one with a Spanish and Italian translation.
- Catherine Classic brought changes and additions to the original release.
- The original Gamebryo logo is changed to the current Gamebryo logo.
- The Eccentric Ape Company logo is added.
- The Catherine text on the title screen is changed to the Catherine Classic logo.
- The copyrights "©ATLUS" in the Japanese version and "©Index Corp." in the western version are changed to "©ATLUS. All rights reserved."
- The audio language can be changed between English and Japanese.
- The audio language during main gameplay is in English. This was later fixed in a patch.
- The game can be played at 60fps and above.
- The main gameplay animations are capped at 30fps. This was later fixed in a patch.
- The graphic and display options are added and can be customized.
- 「ペルソナ5」橋野 桂氏インタビュー 4Gamer.net
- Official North American website
- Official Japanese website
- Catherine Wiki
- Wikipedia article on Catherine
- Steam page for Catherine: Classic