Mon, Feb 13, 2012 | 10:51 GMT
Deep sleep: why we need to talk about Catherine
With the arrival of its long overdue PAL release, Stace received a text from a friend asking about Catherine. The following is a transcript of their conversation.
This trailer probably does a better job of framing it in the appropriate context:
Then there’s the actual gameplay. Vincent can interact with people at the local bar, which in turn shapes the story and explores the themes more deeply. However, most of his time is spent trying to solve some very tricky 3D block puzzles. Like this:
Why’s he running around in his boxer shorts holding a pillow? Why does he have ram horns on his head? Is that a baby chasing him? And what the hell is with all the sheep? This doesn’t look like the sexyfuntime from the trailer that I saw. AT ALL!
Vincent can never quite remember his nightmares when he wakes up; he just knows he’s had a rough night and that all is not right.
As a result, he’s always pretty tired and occasionally gets lost in his own thoughts.
Well, a number of the men Vincent knows or meets at the bar are having variations of the same nightmare and somehow they’re all connected. The sheep in Vincent’s nightmares share characteristics with the men he meets in his waking hours, all of whom are carrying their own emotional baggage and issues. What’s more, in the nightmare each sheep sees himself as a normal man and all the other men as sheep.
Vincent starts having the nightmares just before meeting Catherine, whom he then gets…mixed up with.
From the person that’s interested in the game because it looks like you might get to have sex with a “hot blonde chick” who “looks like a right little goer” and has dismissed another woman because she “looks a bit boring”?
OK, look: yes, there are elements of this game that are deliberately provocative and titillating and, yeah, some of the stuff is sexy. And I completely agree that sometimes people are all too quick to jump on their high-horse about sex, especially about sex in games.
The point, really, is that the sheep analogy in this scenario isn’t sexist; it’s a visual representation of a concept that you can interpret in different ways. Most importantly, it’s one that provokes discussion.
Although, a brief anecdote: I was out for a drink one night during the time I was playing Catherine and, I shit you not, while standing at the bar I heard one bloke say to his mate: “You know me bruv, if you want to do it, I’ll follow suit”. That tickled me.
But, irrespective of that, the sheep thing doesn’t necessarily represent what it seems to.
Look, I don’t want to say too much about it because I really think you should experience it for yourself. One way of thinking about it is like an Escher sketch
Something that, at first glance, appears to be one thing and that both validates and contradicts itself from different perspectives – something that doesn’t make sense, but does; like these:
But if I play it, will I actually have any say it what happens? Or will I just be watching pretty cut-scenes in between solving pain-in-the-arse block-puzzles?
Also, on normal or hard difficulty the puzzles are really tough but that means you’re pumped once Vincent gets through them and escapes from another of his nightmares. Or you can play on easy and concentrate more on the story. Plus there are eight endings – in my play through, Vincent came out the other side of his ordeal a very different man. It was the True Freedom ending.
I know that I should have sat down with the one who loved me, and whom I loved, and talked it through. It’s not even like I only saw it in hindsight, I could see what was happening at the time and did nothing to stop it.
I was selfish and I was weak, and I have to live with that and move forward. Life goes on and all that jazz.
You want to meet for a beer later, have a proper catch-up?
That’s genuinely all the stuff that happened to Vincent during my play-through of Catherine. I’m looking forward to starting over, to see if things turn out differently for him. I’d also like to hear about your experience of it, too.
Anyway, yeah, beer later sounds good – usual place. Not too heavy a session though, I’m really tired.
I’ve not been sleeping properly, lately.