Publisher: Atlus (SEGA)
Platform: Playstation 4, Playstation Vita (JP only)
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Genre: Puzzle / Narrative
Set in an unnamed city in the United States of America, Catherine Full Body tells the story of Vincent Brooks, a 32-year old systems engineer whose life hasn't progressed in years. He has a job that he doesn't very much like, a steady girlfriend whose very idea of marrying gives him severe anxiety and a couple of friends with whom he meets semi-regularly at this bar called "The Stray Sheep" . One day, he bumps into a gorgeous blonde girl in her early 20s and, somehow, finds himself in bed with her. That's when his problems start.
The original Catherine was developed by the "2nd Creative Production Department", a team within Atlus who had previously handled development for the Persona series, a subseries within the Megami Tensei franchise. Planning for Catherine began while the development team were performing final polishing work for Persona 4 prior to the latter's 2008 release. The three key staff members were all veterans of the Persona series: director and producer Katsura Hashino had helmed both Persona 3 and Persona 4; art director and character designer Shigenori Soejima had designed characters for both Persona 3 and Persona 4; and composer Shoji Meguro had created music for multiple Megami Tensei titles, including the Persona series. The chief designer was Kazuhisa Wada, while the chief programmer was Yujiro Kosaka.
Catherine was the very first title developed by Atlus for high-definition (HD) video game consoles, specifically the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Xbox 360 (360). Using HD consoles they were able to fully portray the world of Catherine. Despite the shift onto HD consoles making their vision easier to realize, debugging for multiple consoles caused problems that pushed back the planned development schedule. In a 2012 statement, an Atlus staff member said that Catherine was a "difficult" game for the company to make. The game would later be called a "test" for the development of Persona 5.
The aim with Catherine was to create a game that was not within the role-playing genre as with the majority of Atlus' titles, in addition to making something that was aimed at adults. The main aim was to create something new as a change prior to developing a new role-playing game. It used the third-party Gamebryo game engine. Hashino had wanted an in-house engine, but the team's lack of experience with HD consoles meant this was impracticable. While they had the option of developing the title for handheld consoles or mobile devices, Hashino felt that the game would lose its charm on less powerful hardware.
The initial story was written by Hashino, who originally worked alone on the scenario before other writers were brought on to help. The scenario's main writer was Yuichiro Tanaka, previously lead writer for the Persona series. The setting incorporated both Japanese and American influences. Hashino felt that Catherine was an ambitious title due to its themes and subject matter, saying that no-one but Atlus would have supported the project. The main theme is love between men and women, although in its infancy the project was themed around conflict. In order to make the love triangle between Vincent, Catherine and Katherine sound realistic, he asked other members of Atlus staff for their experiences. One story, where a woman detailed killing people in her dreams, was almost directly referenced within the game. Vincent was a very unlikeable character, but based on staff feedback he was adjusted to appear more sympathetic. As the initial premise could not be changed, the team instead added Mutton's plot and worked to make Vincent a more sympathetic character within this framework.
Soejima, who had mainly worked on the Persona series up to this point, was most focused on making the characters' expressions seem realistic within the context of the story. All the characters were designed around being realistic, with their proportions being more akin to real people rather than stylized figures. According to him, he was influenced by the game's themes of instinctual desire intruding into everyday life, the desire for sleep, and the concept of greed. Vincent exemplified these themes. Vincent's character was based on and named after Vincent Gallo, specifically his appearance in the 1998 film Buffalo '66. The younger "Catherine" was designed to be beautiful and youthful when compared to "Katherine", who had an adult charm. The pink coloring of the game's user interface was intended to evoke its sensual and "kitschy" atmosphere. The cutscenes were created by anime production studio Studio 4°C. While the Persona games up to that point boasted around half an hour of cutscenes, the number in Catherine came to considerably more. Studio 4 °C spent around a year working on the anime cutscenes.
[SOURCE OF THE TEXT ABOVE: WIKIPEDIA]
Original Game Director: Katsura Hashino
Starting his career with ATLUS in 1994, Hashino was the planner responsible for " Shin Megami Tensei If...", the SMT spin-off that later inspired the Persona series. His first game credit as director was Maken X for the Dreamcast and he directed Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne before taking over the Persona series, starting with Persona 3. His stewardship of the Persona franchise is lauded as being instrumental in taking a somewhat obscure spin-off and turning it into a cultural juggernaut not only in Japan, but in the West. The original Catherine was his first non-Persona, non-SMT game in ten years.
Metacritic: 81 (as of 09/01/2019)