Catherine on PlayStation 3 Demo Impressions.

Even when they come attached with mature age ratings, the content inside can often feel like the opposite. Enormous guns, vats of gore and over-sized breasts are not necessarily indicative of what it means to be mature, in fact they are the antithesis. Few games capture the essence of adulthood. For all its faults, Heavy Rain came close. Quantic Dream's thriller opus tackled themes of love and fatherhood that few games dare to touch, and while the studio might not always have succeed, at least it dared to try.

Catherine handles maturity differently to Heavy Rain. At its core, this is still a video game. The underlying mechanics involve controlling a man wearing nothing but his love heart dotted boxer shorts through a puzzle-platform environment. But there's more themes at play in Catherine that make it a distinctly more adult affair.

The game opens with protagonist Vincent chatting with his girlfriend Katherine (notice the intentional spelling distinction) at a coffee shop. The pair look agitated. Vincent reveals that he didn't sleep well the previous night and had to do overtime at work. "I hope they're paying you for all this overtime you do," states Katherine.

The topic quickly moves onto heavier subjects. Katherine's mother has been in touch, inquiring about her daughter's well-being. Katherine clearly wants more from her relationship than Vincent is willing to offer, and drops hints about marriage and parenthood.

This is where Catherine's adult themes come into play. Even from the small glimpse offered by the game's demo, it's clear that Catherine is going to depict Vincent's issues with commitment. One of the later gameplay sequences — which takes place in nightmareish landscape — shows Vincent being chased by a deformed version of his girlfriend clutching a fork. The metaphor is, of course, that Katherine is trying to pin him down and he can't escape.

Vincent relays his worries to his friends, who seem blase about the whole scenario. It shows how people have the tendency to extrapolate their own problems. What's worrying Vincent is consuming him, but to someone else it seems like a small issue. The bigger issue is the slew of murders that are taking place in the quaint Japanese town that the character's are situated.

Catherine is brimming with personality. The game's been developed by Atlus, a studio well recognised for its work on the popular but niche Persona series. Catherine's visual style jumps between a super-smooth cel-shaded look, and wonderful animation by Studio 4°C.

As the demo nears its conclusion, a newcomer presents herself to Vincent. Catherine is the antithesis of Vincent's girlfriend, a slender blue-eyed beauty with an outlandish personality and — importantly — little interest in commitment. As Vincent is sucked into another dream sequence, he awakes to find the sultry Catherine in bed next to him, and so the demo concludes.

From a gameplay perspective, Catherine is not particularly convincing. The puzzle platforming seems adequate but bland. The difficulty of these sections also feels a bit unreasonable, with the new Easy mode implemented into the Western release of the game still causing us some serious difficulties. But it's the narrative that we'll be interested in when we import Catherine later in the month. Despite its cartoony appearance, Catherine's approach to adult themes already has us hooked. We need to see where this narrative goes, and while we already have some preconceptions linking the spate of murders to the saucy Catherine, we need to see how plot plays out for ourselves.

Who'd have thought a puzzle platformer could have the potential to be one of the most mature games released on PS3 this year?

Catherine releases on PlayStation 3 on July 26th in North America.