If two’s company and three’s a crowd, what does that make four?
This is not a review of Catherine: Full Body. I want to make that very clear upfront. I will not be covering the ins and outs of this game while providing thought-provoking analysis (as if I’ve ever done that, hah!). Instead, this post is about the effect that Catherine: Full Body had on me as a person. I hope you enjoy this little bit of writing as it gets personal.
Let’s start things off with a little background. I’ve been writing blog posts on thepretendgamer.com for over two years now. During my first year, I was very good at posting a piece of writing every single week. Whether it was a review or an observation of the gaming industry as a whole, I had one primed and ready to go. Then the second year came around and for whatever reason my posting schedule became more sporadic and random. Sure, I would hit a good stretch of consistently posting content every single week but then I would fall off the wagon. This was the first sign that I was in serious trouble.
In my defense, I started something new in my second year of writing about video games. I began editing my own videos on YouTube (check out my channel, would you kindly). This meant that there was more work involved in talking about video games. I not only had to write my reviews but also record the gameplay and edit the footage into a presentable video. It’s not like I don’t enjoy the work involved with creating a video, I actually really enjoy doing it. Which is why it’s all the more perplexing that my work output has deteriorated even further in my third year of writing about games.
It is fairly obvious to anyone who spends more than five seconds looking at either my YouTube channel or website to see that 2020 has not been my best year. We’re in the seventh month of this year and I’ve only managed to publish nine videos and ten blog posts. Let me say that again: I’ve only been able to write, edit, and produce nine of them. That’s absolutely abysmal by any stretch of the imagination if I may say so myself.
So, what’s going on? Well, it’s complicated to be quite frank with you all. I work for a major shipping company and we get fairly busy during Christmas time every year. I’m a relatively young person but the end of the year workload seems to take a bigger toll on me each and every year. I like to take a break for the first two months of the year to recuperate from the beating I take in both November and December. That explains my lack of output for the first two months of the year. What about the rest?
I recently took a new full-time position at my job and it has taken up a lot of my time. I am dog tired most days when I get home from work and it makes me want to go to bed without accomplishing anything. My general dissatisfaction with my day job has caused me to fall into a sort of malaise that I’m discovering is very difficult to climb out of. This has not only caused a serious disturbance in my writing output but has also kept me from enjoying the things I like to do. That is why my writing and video producing efforts in 2020 have been so poor. That is why I’ve posted a video or blog and then disappeared for weeks if not months on end. It has been really crippling to say the least.
So, where does Catherine: Full Body come in? Well, all of what I’ve talked about so far came to a head in the four weeks after I published what I thought was a very good review of Yakuza 5 Remastered. The past four weeks have been kind of difficult from a professional and writing standpoint. To be honest with you all (which is the whole point of this post by the way), I haven’t gotten anything done since my Yakuza 5 Remastered video. Not only that, but I haven’t even made any meaningful progress in playing games let alone writing about them.
Let’s be clear here. Playing games is the easiest part, by far, about maintaining a blog about video games. If you can’t even play and finish games, then you probably shouldn’t be in the writing about video games business which is why it’s been all the more disappointing for me that I can’t even do that one simple thing.
I tried everything to get past my problem. Right after finishing my Yakuza 5 review, I decided to finish the series by playing Yakuza 6. I couldn’t even play that game to the end. Think about that for a moment. A guy whose blog and YouTube channel consists almost entirely of Yakuza content couldn’t even finish a game in that series. How sad is that?
From there, I tried playing games I don’t usually play like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. That didn’t work. I then tried going back and finishing Final Fantasy VII (which, if you can remember, I’m supposed to be playing and reviewing all of the mainline Final Fantasy games this year. Yeah, that’s not happening). I even busted out my Xbox 360 and brought out Fable II to try to get out of my funk, for God’s sake. Spoiler alert, it did not work. It appeared that absolutely nothing would do the trick and that I would be doomed to wander the Earth for the rest of my days doing nothing. And then along came Catherine.
What truly amazes me about Catherine is that I absolutely suck at the gameplay of the, you know, game. Despite that little hiccup, however, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. There is no combat to be found in-game. Instead, a series of what I’ll call upward-mobility puzzles take its place. Essentially, you must work your way up a tower of blocks by pulling them out in certain patterns in order to climb them. It was a fun way to design the game and I appreciated it since I was kind of tired of video game combat in general. As I said though, I sucked at it which is why I played Catherine on its easiest setting which eliminated the timer from the equation which gave me the peace of mind to complete the puzzles at my own pace.
To demonstrate how much I suck at the gameplay, there is an arcade machine you can play in-game which features the same gameplay but without the time limit. You get three tries to get as far as you can in it and I never made it that far. Here’s the thing, though, I loved playing that arcade machine even though I was bad at it. I consider it good game design if you can get me to keep playing despite the fact that I am absolutely, unequivocally, scientifically bad at the core game mechanic. My hat is off to the developers on this one. That is quite the feat.
So, if it wasn’t the gameplay, then what was it about Catherine that drew me in and kept me engrossed in the experience? So much so that I finished the game in three sittings over one weekend? Well, if you must know, it was the themes of the story that had me hooked. Catherine stars one Vincent Brooks who is in his thirties and really has neither a purpose nor a direction in life. He has a longtime girlfriend named Katherine who, let’s be honest here, seems kind of bossy and pushy. Things get interesting when he cheats on Katherine with another girl fittingly named Catherine. The main narrative revolves around Vincent’s inability to stop cheating on his girlfriend and contains many scenes which are both funny and decidedly awkward. Oh, and there’s a third girl named Qatherine (a.k.a. Rin) who makes Vincent’s life even more interesting.
But, despite the fact that I enjoyed the main plot of the whole thing, that isn’t truly what made me love Catherine. To be perfectly honest, I cannot even remotely relate to the main plot of the whole thing. No, what truly made me fall in love with the game is its consistent theme of only you can choose what’s important to you in life. Only you can choose what you want to do in life and you have to be the one to work for it. No one else can do it for you. This is a lesson that Vincent learns during his journey and it leads to quite a remarkable transformation. He goes from a guy with no purpose and drive in the beginning to someone who knows what he wants and is willing to put in the effort to go and get it. It was a message I personally needed to hear right now and I’m glad I heard it.
I always hated it in school whenever the teacher assigned an essay which asked us to write about a piece of media that changed our life. I always thought that it was a bulls@#t assignment and I hated doing it. Now, however, I finally have something to write about. I may be reading too much into Catherine here and the message I received from playing the game may not be what the developers were intending for me to hear but that won’t stop me from going along with it. I need to decide what’s important in my life and work towards it. I think I’ve finally found it and I’m here today to share it all with you.
The long and short of it is that I want to quit my day job and write, discuss, and make videos about video games. I don’t know whether that means getting a job for a video game news outlet (which, let’s be honest, those jobs are hard to come by) or that I have to turn this here blog into a profitable enterprise but I’m excited by the prospects ahead of me. I’ve been lucky enough to gather a small group of subscribers on both YouTube and my blog. I am very grateful to all of you for that and I need your help in turning my dream into a reality. I’m serious about transforming this hobby of mine into my full-time job as I truly believe it will give me both the purpose I need and the drive to get things done. Like Vincent, I need to finally decide what’s important to me and work towards it. The good news is that I think I’ve found it and I hope you all join me on this journey.
Thank you all for reading and I apologize for not writing very much this year. Like a man getting his daily dose of fiber, I hope to be more regular for the rest of 2020. I don’t know what the future holds but I’m more excited about it now than I ever have been. I hope you will join me on this journey as we find out what’s next for The Pretend Gamer. Thanks again for reading.