Vincent:Have you ever had a dream where you... died? Katherine:You mean, like... where you're in danger? Vincent:No, no, where you actually die. You're being killed, or something. Katherine:No... I usually do the killing in my dreams.
Catherine is a Shin Megami TenseiSpinoffPuzzle Game made by Atlus' Persona creative team with animated cutscenes by Studio 4°C. It was also Atlus's first HD game on the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles.Vincent Brooks is an average 32-year old guy in a stable but unremarkable long-term relationship with a woman named Katherine McBride. When Katherine begins to press him on the prospect of marriage, Vincent freaks out at the idea... and then suddenly meets a gorgeous and carefree girl called Catherine who could be his ideal woman.As this is happening, Vincent starts to have strange nightmares in which he is wandering in a world of endless staircases and being pursued by... something. A number of men have been found dead with a look of sheer horror on their faces, and a popular rumour states that if you fall in a nightmare and don't wake up before you hit the ground, you will die in real life. Can Vincent sort out his increasingly-catastrophic love life without hurting the people around him, or will he fall victim to his supernatural stalker first?Catherine also features a multiplayer mode called "Colosseum" where two players go head-to-head in a single action stage, each trying to make the other Ring Out. It's fun enough to have caught on with the Tournament Play crowd. No, seriously!The game was released on February 17, 2011, in Japan, July 26, 2011 in North America, and February 10, 2012 in Europe. As of August 4, it had managed to break Atlus' previous launch records, cementing Catherine's place as their fastest selling title in the U.S. with an impressive 200,000 units sold in just one week.◊Also spawned its ownWild Mass Guessing page before it even got a works page.
The tropes have appeared. They're the killers. Do not die.
Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female on Male: There is a scene where Vincent is getting a serious beating from Catherine and his friends just laugh it off and ignore it. Subverted, when it turns out that as far as they knew, Vincent was alone and was just making weird noises.
Abusive Parents: Todd's father (physical and emotional abuse) and Archie's mother (sexual abuse).
Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: This is how the sheep-men appear in the Nightmare world. Said accessories are used to identify them (Tie-Wearing Sheep, Sheep with Glasses, Sheep with Long Hair, etc.) and are one of the ways to recognize them in the real world.
Adult Fear: On day 3, Vincent unexpectedly finding out that Katherine is pregnant. This sort of revelation hits him like a truck, and it would with any other couple if they weren't planning on having kids (just yet).
Picture this: You've been going out with your girlfriend for the past five years, and she's been talking about getting married and making things permanent. It hasn't been the most exciting of relationships, but for the most part you're content with it. One day, you hit up the local bar, and the next thing you remember, aside from a nightmare that you barely even remember, is that you've woken up next to a random beautiful woman, and it's implied that the two of you did...things the night before. Still not freaking out? Not only does this woman not know you already have a girlfriend, but she threatens to kill you if she finds out you're seeing someone else. It certainly doesn't help that this Yandere girl does have everything you could ever want in a girlfriend, which now throws you into deciding between your longtime lover and this new girl. And just when you're contemplating how to get yourself out of this mess, you find yourself in several situations where these two women nearly find out about each other. Welcome to the life of VincentBrooks!
Katherine ends up accidentally murdering Catherine during a struggle. She reacts accordingly when she sees what happened. It's quickly revealed to just be a dream, but still.
Affair Hair: In a twist, Catherine (the other woman) finds Katherine's (the girlfriend) hair.
Afro Asskicker: Vincent, who has a variation of this as his defining trait to the other sheep. Midnight Venus' afro however, is leagues beyond the protagonist's.
A God Is You: Ishtar plans on turning you into her co-deity of love should you complete all four Babel Stages.
Animal Motifs: Vincent and rams. He sprouts ram horns in the dreamworld and his dreams are filled with bipedal (and necktied) ones who are really other men stuck in the dreamworld. The game never lets up on the sheep motif, either; they mention their connection to dreams in symbolism ("counting sheep!"), the sheep in the nightmares are condescendingly called "lost lambs"note Which is also a reference to a sermon by Jesus by the voice in the confessional, the final boss is a giant head with a beard made of sheep, and so on.
To a lesser extent than the sheep, ants are symbolically used as well.
Art Major Physics: The tutorial voice tells Vincent that these blocks aren't normal; you can connect them just at their edges and they won't fall. Vincent wonders why the hell gravity doesn't pull them down, but this is dream logic, after all.
Babies Make Everything Better: Subverted. Not only does the announcement of Katherine's alleged pregnancy cause Vincent to freak out, he starts having nightmares where he's chased by a giant baby. This is combined with Chainsaw Good in a later nightmare.
Bad Liar: Good lord, Vincent. Especially jarring since his excuses get more and more unrealistic (like telling Catherine that Katherine's super-long, pale blonde hair came from his chest), but the girls don't confront him until later in the story. Although Catherine does lampshade it, and she probably knows more than she lets on, being a demon sent to tempt him and all.
Booze-Based Buff: The more hammered Vincent is by the time he leaves the bar, the faster he runs during the Nightmare levels. As a nice cosmetic bonus, finishing your drink gives you trivia about that type of alchohol; cocktails, beer, sake, or whiskey.
Trisha introduces and concludes the game to the player, and beyond that, the text messages Vincent receives from her are actually for you (Vincent thinks they're spam), and when Astaroth says it has many names and faces and will see you again in another place, it's actually Trisha talking to the player again.
Beating the final Babel stage essentially lets the playerhook up with Trisha, aka Ishtar the Goddess of Love, and become a god him/herself. No, not Vincent: You.
Brick Joke: An unusual All There in the Manual example: Katherine likes cake. This doesn't seem significant until she actually gives a cake to Vincent as a present. However, that same cake ends up rotting in the room a few days later, and ants end up crawling all over Vincent's dorm. Catherine, who somehow slept with Vincent again, questions why does Vincent have a cake after they clean up the mess. This causes a chain of incidents that lead to Vincent being suspected of cheating.
Should you choose Katherine, Catherine is basically written off as an "Illusion" by Boss.
Should you choose Catherine, Jonny's back story reveals he's been in love with Katherine since high school, and now that Vincent's out of the picture, his only reason to not pursue a relationship with her is gone.
Creepy Twins: Martha and Lindsay. Unnatural speaking patterns? Speaking in unison? Seem to inexplicably know something about the dreams men are having? Check, check, check. However, they do buck the usual trend of this trope; they're old ladies rather than little kids.
Crucified Hero Shot: A picture in the confessional shows Vincent on a cross, surrounded by sheep. As the game progresses, this picture shows more and more sheep gathered around the cross, making rather obvious implications about Vincent's role among the sheep.
Death by Irony: The Merchant Sheep. He believes that if he can collect enough coins, he'll be able to buy his freedom from the tower. Eventually, his sack of coins gets too heavy to carry and he falls off the tower while climbing.
Defictionalization: Atlus's special edition of Catherine comes with (among other things) real life versions of a pizza box from the bar Vincent frequents, one of Vincent's shirts, and even a pair of the boxers Vincent wears in his nightmares.
Devil in Plain Sight: Catherine keeps passive-aggressively inserting herself into Vincent's life. He keeps waking up with her in his bed, even if he told her "no." He has no memory of the nights they supposedly spend together. This could either scream "Catherine is a soul-stealing succubus" or "Catherine is a stalker who keeps drugging Vincent into submission," but either way she's clearly bad news.
Difficulty By Region: In the Japanese version, the "easy patch" can be toggled on and off after installing it, while in the American version it is permanently on. In addition, the "Undo" move is available on "Normal" difficulty in America, but not Japan.
The entirety of the Nightmares are also a major allusion to the levels of Hell, since as you go up the tower, the sanctuaries get cleaner, holier, and more whole, alluding to the fact that you are climbing your way out of hell.
Escort Mission: Stage 8 (The Cathedral) requires you to bring along Katherine. It's an extremely simple level aside from her presence; she is, however, slower than Vincent, and her AI can easily get her into untenable positions, as she will not move blocks and not be able to perform techniques.
Eyes Do Not Belong There: The second boss, the Immoral Beast, is a deformed human torso with eyes (and a nose) on its ass.
First Girl Wins: Choosing Katherine results in this. Toby also believes in this literally, saying he plans on marrying the first girl he falls in love with. It's Hilarious in Hindsight when he discovers Erica used to be known as Eric.
Foreshadowing: Fairly early in the game, Catherine says that she has to go to the dentist. One of the first sheep Vincent meets in the nightmare world is called Steve, who has also fallen victim to Catherine. His profession is a dentist.
A not so distant example happens later: While Catherine is beating up Vincent, you hear loud punches and slams, along with Vincent's screams of agony. Then, when the scene shifts to Orlando and Toby, all you hear is Vincent. The next day, you find out that only Vincent can see her.
In a more subtle example, the loading screen usually has quotes from well-known people in history about romance. One of the people who is quoted is Thomas Mutton, who unlike the rest, isn't a historical figure. Thomas Mutton is the real name of Boss, who is behind all of the nightmares.
Four Philosophy Ensemble: In terms of Vincent and his three bros. Orlando is the Cynic, Toby the Optimist, Jonny the Realist, and Vincent himself (unsurprisingly) the Conflicted.
Four-Temperament Ensemble: In terms of Vincent and his three bros. Toby is sanguine, Orlando is choleric, Jonny is melancholic, and Vincent is phlegmatic.
Framing Device: The Golden Playhouse, with your hostess, Trisha: The Midnight Venus. The whole thing plays out as if it's a TV series that shows late night movies, complete with opening and closing narration by Trisha.
From a Certain Point of View: From a certain point of view, Vincent never actually cheated on Katherine. Catherine was an illusion and they never really had sex; Catherine simply used her powers to make Vincent think he was cheating. This is the reason why Katherine takes Vincent back after the breakup if you pick the Katherine ending.
The Big Bad, Boss/Thomas Mutton/Dumuzid, is trying to weed out men who won't do their duty for the continuation of the species. To that end, he sets up as a bartender and sends a succubus to seduce men on the verge of infidelity, so he can trap them in the Nightmare. He's also cheating on his wife, Ishtar, who's not happy about this. More on that later.
Catherine, the above-mentioned succubus, goes to Vincent and seduces him, but also falls in Yandere love with him, leading her to attempt to Murder the Hypotenuse.
Vincent is, of course, unaware of all this intrigue. He's just someone whose relationship with his girlfriend is about to cross the point of no return, and who's terrified of it. Because of this, he runs headlong into Catherine's arms, which kicks off the plot. By surviving the nightmares, he's able to derail Boss' plan and decide for himself what he wants out of life.
Finally, this whole thing is actually being overseen by Ishtar, who uses the framing device to find someone worthy of climbing the Tower of Babel and replacing Dumuzid as her husband. That someone is the player. Not Vincent, the player.
Game Within a Game: The arcade machine in the bar, which is eerily similar to the gameplay proper. Justified in that since the bartender is giving the block-climbing nightmares to the patrons of his bar, he put the game there to help them familiarize themselves with the nightmare world. Its rules are nearly the same as the nightmare game, except that instead of dealing with a time limit and enemies, you have limits on the number of block-pushes you can use. With 64 stages (and 64 more hidden stages after that), it's arguably big enough to be its own game.
Of course, this is a game within a game within a TV show. The dreams themselves are games within a dream within a TV show. That's Colon Cancer for you.
In the English release, "You got a mail!" is replaced by the more ubiquitous "You've got mail!" However, listening closely in one scene seems to indicate that one instance of the Gratuitous English accidentally slipped through.
Harder Than Hard: It's called "Hard" mode, but even Japanese players had complaints on Easy. "Easy" mode is supposed to be straightforward. "Normal" raises the difficulty faster, and can get borderline impossible. "Hard" removes the Undo ability, and gets even more complicated. The Xbox360, however, has a disadvantage: there's a common complaint that the 360's controller has a bad design for its D-Pad. Unfortunately, the controller stick is horrible for fine movements in an ''isometric'' area. And you need nine Gold trophies in the dreams in order to unlock the final level of Babel. Did we mention that those nine Gold have to be in a difficulty other than Easy?
Have a Nice Death: Falling from the tower presents you with a nice image of Vincent's corpse atop a stack of fallen blocks while a voice tells you to Rest In Peace. LOVE IS OVER indeed. Dying on the tower is more kind as at least Vincent goes up in a fine red mist.
Plus, when you run out of continues, you're treated to the lovely image of Vincent dead in the real world. Completely pale and with a look of absolute horror frozen on his face. And since this is an Atlus game, you'll be seeing it a lot.
Heroic BSOD: Vincent got one after Katherine dumped him.
Hellish Pupils: In a non-villainous example, whenever Vincent wakes up from the nightmares, his eyes are briefly seen as creepy sheep eyes.
In a straight villainous example, however, we have Boss, aka: Thomas Mutton, aka: Dumuzid. Instead of pupils, he has the arrow from the "Mars symbol" in his right eye, and the cross from the "Venus symbol" in his left. He also has orange, almost glowing, sclerae.
Also played straight in Vincent and Catherine's True Ending, where both of them have red eyes with slitted pupils.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Vincent and Orlando. Sometimes, they will discuss their life with each other while they are in neighboring stalls taking a shit, which Orlando even lampshades at one point.
Ironic Echo: Early in the game, Katherine puts two sugars in Vincent's coffee, saying that's the way he likes it. In the cutscene before The Cathedral, Catherine does the same, right in front of Katherine, too.
I Never Said It Was Poison: When Vincent shakes down Boss, demanding to know if he saw Catherine or not, it was simply to find out if Catherine was really an illusion. Boss, thinking Vincent had figured out that he was the mastermind, gives his Motive Rant and spills the whole story to him.
Interface Screw: The boss of Stage 3 spews hearts that reverse Vincent's controls if you don't take cover.
Invisible to Normals: Catherine, since she is a succubus. They can only be seen by the humans they're seducing.
Boss also can see her, thanks to being the person organizing the nightmares and using Catherine to judge who needs to be sent into them. Which screws him up when a desperate Vincent is looking for some confirmation that Catherine existed and instead congratulated Vincent about finding out his role in the Nightmares.
It's a Wonderful Failure: If you run out of lives, or opt to just quit the game after Vincent dies in a nightmare, you'll be treated to a cutscene depicting his corpse in bed, with his expression frozen in horror.
Also done routinely when he finds out something is chasing him. Or that Catherine was in his bed again.
Justified Tutorial: The various sheep compare notes on different block-pushing techniques to keep themselves from dying, and they fill in Vincent on what they come up with. Sometimes Vincent is the one who tells them.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: You may feel bad about pushing the other sheep around or zapping them with the Grimoire. But the crazy, murderous sheep? Not so much.
Like a Badass out of Hell: In Catherine's true ending, Vincent storms the hellish dimension where Catherine is from, dethrones her father (stated to be a very powerful demon himself, even if he is a Bumbling Dad), and rules over the succubi until, as Catherine states, "there is nobody who doesn't recognize your power". Damn.
Large Ham: While Astaroth and Boss can get over-the-top, Dumuzid takes the cake with his special attack.
Late Arrival Spoiler: Vincent's cameo in the PSP port of Persona3 recieved much hype when Catherine still was in production, talking to him will summarize some of his great frustrations in his own game, like how a girl suddenly made his life take a new turn (Catherine), and that his actual girlfriend (Katherine) is expecting his child.
The first is of the "closet full of the same" variety. Sometimes in Vincent's apartment, you'll see a hanger drying out his underwear. All pink-spotted boxers.
The second is of the "never change clothes regardless of the situation" variety. If you get the True Lover ending, you'll see Katherine and Vincent's wedding, with them dressed up, as well several anonymous wedding guests in formal wear. Then you see Vincent's friends in the same clothes they always wear. Even Toby is still in his work jumpsuit.
Loophole Abuse: If you pick Katherine instead of Catherine, this is how Vincent manages to get Katherine to take him back after the breakup. See, Catherine is technically nothing but an illusion, in this realm at least, so she and Vincent technically never actually had sex... which means that technically, Vincent never actually cheated on Katherine! If it's the bad ending, Katherine doesn't swallow this, but if it's the Good or True ending, Vincent's friends show up to confirm that they never saw Catherine, and Boss/Thomas Mutton confirms that Catherine isn't from this realm and Vincent's screw-ups were the result of an illusion and artificial nightmares.
Lost in Translation: The title of the game is "Catherine", but in the Japanese version the name is spelled so it clearly refers to both Catherine and Katherine, making them both the eponymous character. In the English version, only Catherine's name is directly referred to by the title.
Man Behind the Man: The bartender is really a creature called Dumuzid who was the previous Man of Legends. He was able to climb to the pinnacle 100 years ago in Astaroth's game. The reason men are sent to the Nightmare World is that they refuse to populate the species and he sends out Catherine, a succubus, to test the worth of some of these men.
Meaningful Echo: Early in the game, Katherine asks Vincent how many years they've been together, and he can't remember. Later, after Vincent starts to realise just how much Katherine means to him, he asks himself the same question and remembers the answer: five years.
Motif: Sheep are very prominent throughout the game as symbols for many different things: sleep, counting sheep, herd mentality, sheep who have gone astray, lambs to the slaughter. The big bad's name is Thomas Mutton. Mutton is sheep meat. He even has pajamas decorated with sheep.
Ms. Fanservice: Played straight with Catherine. Also justified, since she's really a succubus and her appearance is Vincent's personal ideal of Ms. Fanservice.
Multiple Endings: Nine endings total: eight of them for Golden Theater story mode and one for Babel mode. There are three paths: Lover, Cheater and Freedom. All three have a "true" and "good" ending, while just the girls have a "bad" ending.
Murder the Hypotenuse: Catherine goes after Katherine with a knife in the animated cutscene before Stage 8. It does not end well.
Combine this with Crazy-Prepared, considering that Katherine, perhaps having the same thoughts, was backing up to Vincent's sink to go for the same knife, but Catherine reveals that she already had it.
The early trailers made it look like it was some kind of horror game. While there are certainly more than a few creepy moments, it really isn't a scary game.
Additionally, some of the early descriptions of it brought up the sexiness of the game to the point people thought Atlus was going into softcore. You see some skimpy clothing, cleavage, and conveniently placed bed sheets, but really nothing that couldn't be shown on evening television.
Nipple and Dimed: For all the hype, this game isn't that racy; all naughty bits are kept hidden by handy nearby objects and clever camera angles, and we mostly just see scenes of pillow talk. Not that this isn't enough to shock Vincent, though, of course. His horror in these scenes is palpable.
Nobody Poops: Averted. Several scenes happen in the lavatory at Vincent's office, his friends sometimes get up to go to the restroom at the Stray Sheep (prompting the rest of them to talk about him while he's gone), and Catherine announces she's going to the bathroom at one point though she may just have been using that as an excuse, being a succubus.
That said, from a gameplay perspective, you can enter the restroom at the Stray Sheep, but all you can do in there is wash your face and look at Catherine's naughty pictures in the stall.
No Export for You: Intentionally subverted. Atlus initially played at the North American fanbase by claiming that they had no plans to release the game outside Japan in a late February 2011 interview. After roughly a day of a raging fanbase, Atlus Faithful members received a cryptic e-mail in Catherine colors with the phrase "Do you still like us?". Whether the teasing was intended to continue or not is unknown, as GameStop accidentally leaked the official release date a few days later. Atlus finally confirmed it with an e-mail announcing the official site and the tagline "...Cat's out of the bag". Clearly they never intended to leave Catherine behind, but they were aware of the trope.
No Points for Neutrality: Averted. Being neutral is a perfectly viable option and there is actually a nice satisfying ending for sticking with it.
Offscreen Teleportation: The way Catherine moves around seats when the camera's not on her, you'd think she can teleport or something. She can.
One Steve Limit: Averted. There's Katherine, a co-worker whom Vincent is dating when he meets 'girl of his dreams' Catherine... You don't even get the benefit of different spellings with the katakana in the Japanese version. In the English version, when Vincent challenges Mutton/Dumuzid to earn K/Catherine back, the localization team edited the subtitles to read "her" when he says the name to keep which one he's fighting to win back ambiguous.
Possibly lampshaded by Steve, who calls Vincent to tell him to stop seeing C/Katherine. Vincent confronts both girls, but neither of them appears to know anyone named Steve. Vincent points out how odd this is, given that "Steve" is a relatively common name.
One-Winged Angel: Catherine, after she's been rejected by Vincent and failed to kill Katherine, and the Bartender/Thomas Mutton, who is really an Eldritch Abomination called Dumuzid.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Zig-zagged. The sheep in the nightmare world all have red eyes, but most of them are just average Joes trying to escape like Vincent. But most of the bosses, with the exception of Vincent's Shadow have them too.
Red Herring: There's a fair amount of "clues" that point toward either Katherine or Erica being the "witch" that's cursing the male characters. It turns out that Erica is the "witch" from the rumours, but not as you'd imagine: she has nothing to do with the supernatural events, and her identity as the "witch" is a result of misinformation and second-hand gossip from her schooldays with Vincent and friends.
The ants. The camera notes their presence during critical scenes, and Erica shares a rumour that ants are the servants of the "witch" that's cursing everyone. Vincent and Catherine wake up one morning to find the apartment infested with them, and you even have to fight against giant ants in one of the stages. Turns out, the ants have nothing to do with anything.
Actually probably true in-story as well: Since the game only exists in the Stray Sheep and was created by Mutton, it was probably only created when the bar opened a couple of years ago, but it was designed to look like the old arcade cabinets often found in bars.
The Reveal: Double Subverted. Mutton completely misreads Vincent's attempts to prove Catherine is real as proof that Vincent's figured out the bartender's involvement in the nightmares, leading to quite a bit of confusion on both sides. However, despite Mutton's attempts to pretend their conversation didn't happen, Vincent quickly catches on, forcing Mutton to continue explaining what's been going on.
Right Through His Pants: No matter what he did with Catherine the previous night, Vincent is always wearing his boxers in the morning.
Possible Fridge Brilliance: There's evidence to doubt the physicalness of Vincent and Catherine's relationship, so it could even be foreshadowing.
Rise to the Challenge: Gameplay in the Nightmare sections involves climbing a tower of blocks and reaching a door on the top, or else Vincent will killed by whatever massive monstrosity is chasing him down.
Save Scumming: Anyone who desires to see all 7 endings without playing all the way through from start to finish each time might want to consider this option. Just save at a level or two before the final night and make any last minute choices to place where you want to be on the Karma Meter.
Saying Too Much: Thomas Mutton accidentally reveals his involvement in the nightmares, not realizing that Vincent just wanted confirmation that someone else had seen Catherine and that he wasn't crazy.
Scenery Censor: Most of Catherine's nude scenes just show her from the shoulders up, but Vincent's computer monitor pulls this duty in one scene.
Schrödinger's Gun: The differences between the "Bad", "Good", and "True" version of each ending are supposedly determined by how well the girl can sense your feelings (that is, your position on the Karma Meter), but other events happen differently seemingly independently of your feelings about relationships. If you choose Katherine, Jonny, Orlando, and Boss don't show up to corroborate your story in the Bad ending. If you choose Catherine, her father doesn't show up in the Bad ending. And the difference between the Good and True Freedom endings is whether or not Feather wins the wrestling tournament, which Vincent should have no way of influencing.
The Scream: Vincent does this in a montage at the end of the demo; a fairly impressive scream, too, as he manages to hold it for a good twenty seconds.
In the game, this happens when Catherine and Katherine are arguing, and Vincent cannot have his own word in the conversation. That scream is shown as like a Mind Screw, and acted out as like a Skyward Scream.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Freedom Endings, especially the True version. Vincent, after having his chance to choose, chooses neither Catherine nor Katherine, deciding that the relationship scare means he's clearly not ready to settle down with any major choice. As his reward, he asks Mutton/Boss for a loan to place on a bet for a Wrestling match. Depending how close your Karma Meter is to True Neutral, Vincent either loses it all on a risky bet and drinks the rest of the night away with his friends (Normal) or wins the bet and makes enough money to move out of his apartment and join the fledgling Space Colonies.
Taken even further in the True Cheater ending, where we see Vincent fighting his way through Hell in his boxers.
Speaking of the True Cheater ending, our first look into hell is a castle that looks quite similar to Laharl's.
When you leave to the title screen any time during the main level, we see what the victims of the nightmares look like in real life via Vincent. The frozen positions and frozen faces of pure terror could be a Shout-Out to The Ring.
The Golden Playhouse intro is actually a parody of a real Japanese TV show called "Golden Theater".
In an interesting inversion, you can actually find Vincent (or at the very least heavily implied to be him) in Persona 3 Portable.
Shown Their Work: Finishing your drinks in the bar gets you a bunch of accurate alcohol trivia, which is appropriate for a game where the protagonist drowns his sorrows so often.
Show Within a Show: The whole game, actually. It actually opens with Midnight Venus introducing the game as if it were an episode akin to something from Tales from the Crypt. Many cutscenes have a watermark in the corner of the screen as if we were watching a TV channel.
"I swear by the name of Dumuzid, the Shepherd, consort of Ishtar... your ass is mine, punk!"
Soundtrack Dissonance: While for the most part, the epic classical music remixes fit the gameplay, one level has Rossini -William Tell Overture Part 2 "The Storm" And Part 3 "The Ranz Des Vaches" playing, and portions of the song are serene and don't fit the climbing to escape your death gameplay at all.
The level with the baby boss features "Pictures at an Exhibition" as a soundtrack, with "the Hut of Baba Yaga" being one of the creepier segments.
The menu theme may also count. It starts off sinister, but gets pretty catchy and disco-like, creating quite the dissonance of Vincent being stuck to a pillar, with what looks like barb-wire, and the two title characters just sitting on said pillar. That given, this is made by Atlus.
Played straight with "Dumuzi" compared to "Dumuzid". May be due to pronunciation issues.
Spit Take: Already nervous because Catherine called him while he was having lunch with Katherine, Vincent drops one of these when she actually shows up at Chrono Rabbit a short while later.
Spoiled By The Manual: The American/European version of the manual does a splendid job of spoiling Erica being a transsexual by listing her voice actress as voicing 'Eric Anderson (Erica)'.
Stealth Pun: A minor one, but the boss of the Cathedral is Catherine.
The achievement named "A God Is Born" involves someone getting laid by Isthar, the goddess of fertility, of all things. As her children would unlikely be mortal, it's easy to see the Fridge Brilliance in the name.
The restaurant Vincent and Katherine visit is called the "Chrono Rabbit." The rabbit in a waistcoat from Alice in Wonderland is used as a symbol for time in Japan as well. One revelation in the Chrono Rabbit? "I'm late."
Another minor one: In the Katherine Good Ending, something Orlando says as he, Jonny, and Mutton come to Vincent's rescue, "Long time, no see, K." That is, if expounded: "(After the) long time (game), no C(atherine), (you get) K(atherine).
Sweet Tooth: Katherine. Most interactions with her take place at the Chrono Rabbit, a love-themed restaurant, with her eating some kind of pastry.
Vincent claims this when Catherine finds the cake Katherine had given him, and Catherine says that she has one as well.
Take a Third Option: The neutral ending is this for the alignments. Vincent rejects meeting up with Katherine or Catherine and decides to put off marriage until he feels ready for it. Keeping a so-called "Chaotic" lifestyle but with the "Law" mentality about it.
Those Two Guys: Todd and Archie. A manager and a subordinate at a suit store, Todd looks out for Archie. They are also sheep in the dreams, Regent Hair and Long Haired, and they need to be saved together; otherwise, if you save one but not the other, the saved will wait for the other at a higher level, killing himself.
Translation Style Choices: In the English version, whenever a critical moment occurs in which Vincent must side with Catherine or Katherine, the dialogue will say the name but the subtitles will use general pronouns or just disappear altogether. This allows the audience to choose either side without the game aligning with either one.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Unlike some other Atlus games, Catherine doesn't take place in a specified year. It basically looks like the present, though space tourism is implied to have gotten cheaper.
Twitchy Eye: Katherine, during Catherine's volley of insults. Not long afterwards, Katherine moves towards the sink to grab a knife.
The Unfair Sex: Apparently, not a single woman, unless you count Erica, fits the conditions to be sent into the nightmares. Though this may be more because of the guy sending them all in there to begin with, instead of the writers.
Pointed out in-game when Vincent asks Asteroth why only men get targeted.
Unwinnable by Mistake: The solo version of Axis Mundi, the fourth and final stage of Babel, is this in North American versions of the game. Averted when playing in pairs.
Urban Legend of Zelda: A game with adult situations and a couple of hot babes. Check. Rampant rumors of how to get said babes fully naked on-screen? Check and Check!
Vagina Dentata: Featured on the game's second boss, the Immoral Beast.
Video Game Caring Potential: Vincent may be an indecisive loser in the waking world, but he's surprisingly brave and supportive in the nightmare world, and encourages the sheep on the landings as much as possible.
Once you get up to the higher levels with the crazy sheep who have died in the real world and now only care about killing other sheep, you don't feel so bad about it any more.
Voice of the Legion: Most of the bosses have them, and pretty much every demon as well, including Vincent and Catherine in the True Cheater Ending.
We All Live in America: Supposedly, the game takes place in an unnamed American city, but there are some things that are distinctly Japanese about it. For example, Vincent's apartment is absolutely teeny. While Japanese apartments are that small, American ones are much more spacious.
At one point, during an optional text conversation with Catherine if you tell her not to bother you, she will eventually reply with "You're so boring!", followed by a rather Japanese emoticon.◊ This isn't to say that Japanese-style emoticons aren't uncommon in the US; stuff like "^_^" and ">_<" get used fairly regularly. You will rarely, if ever, find someone using the one in the picture, though.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Not Vincent, but Todd, another one of the sheep from the nightmare, whose story is that he wanted to be his father (who called him "Maggot" and "Little Shit") and is chased by his own father every night.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: It's understandable that Mutton, or Dumuzid, would want men to continue to be faithful and continue to populate humanity. That's fine, but did he really have to do so in a way that involved death? Scaring them would be more than enough, but Mutton does infer he's also "weeding out" what he's deemed lesser males in favor of improving the gene pool. Or at least what Mutton believes is an improvement.
Widget Series: It's a block puzzle game about infidelity. That's Widget even by Atlus standards.
Yandere: Catherine. After one (drunken) rendezvous with Vincent, she chokes, bites, and threatens to kill him if he ever cheats on her. Not to mention trying to slice up Katherine. Erica also tells him about a rumored curse placed on unfaithful men by a mysterious woman...
Yank the Dog's Chain: Vincent saves Katherine from falling to her death in the nightmare towards the end of the game, and it's a fairly romantic moment. He wakes up to Katherine standing in his apartment, under the impression that everything's fixed between them. Turns out the whole thing was All Just a Dream, and Katherine was never actually in the nightmare at all. She then explains that she knew about his affair the entire time and breaks up with him.
Fridge Brilliance when you consider that Zettai Ryouiki is the number one fetish in Japan and you consider Catherine's origins. Though Fridge Logic kicks in when you realise this is supposed to be America.
The Stinger has appeared. It's the killer. Do not die.