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REVIEW: Catherine: Full Body — New Kid On The Block

 
 
Overview
 

Published by: SEGA
 
Developed by: Atlus, Studio Zero
 
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita (Japan)
 
Genre(s): Puzzle-platformer, Visual Novel, Dating Sim
 
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer (online features, couch co-op)
 
Game Type: , ,
 
FG RATING
75%
75/ 100


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

Raves


Over twice as many puzzles. New Online Features. Rin's arc seamlessly sewn into the original story. Difficulty options expanded, more accessible for casual play.

Rants


Some minor issues from original still remain. New content may not be worth full price for returning players.


0
Posted September 23, 2019 by

About 8 years ago, the studio behind the Persona series released Catherine, an unconventional puzzle-platformer slash visual novel slash dating sim. It’s a mix of genres you wouldn’t think would work, but surprisingly does. It garnered a slew of positive reviews and gained a substantial cult following since its release.

Catherine was considered ahead of its time, well enough that the studio behind the original thought it high time to deliver an encore performance. Enter Catherine: Full Body — intended by the Studio to be the title’s ‘definitive’ version. This shipped with remixed modes, new content, enhanced visuals, and overall improved quality of life features. In this review, we’ll find out how well it holds up after close to a decade later. 

Find yourself a copy of Catherine: Full Body here.

STORY

The game follows the story of Vincent Brooks, a not too remarkable, average and relatable guy. He had just switched jobs and only manages to scratch a living. However, Vincent’s girlfriend, Katherine, is coercing him to settle down with her. As someone who’s barely making ends meet, (and isn’t exactly someone you’d call responsible) this has him very anxious and apprehensive. Just when things can’t seem to possibly get any worse, life drops a couple more blocks in his way. Some forcing him to make big life-changing decisions while others have him climbing obstacles to escape certain death… quite literally.

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It’s at this point that Vincent and the story of his future are handed to you. Will you drop the anchor and settle down? Or will you live as a free man, at least for a while longer? It’s ultimately up to you to mold Vincent Brooks’ character. The choices you make determine the outcome of his future. From how long you hang out in the bar to how you choose to respond to people, you’ll be shaping the story based on nearly everything you do. The game will even straight up ask you preferential questions that influence Vincent’s path a great deal. When the game does, it’s interesting to answer based on your personal preference and witness how Vincent turns out. Alternatively, you could answer based on your ideal version of Vincent and see where it goes.

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There were 8 different endings you can end up with from the original release. In Catherine: Full Body, that’s dialed up to 13 endings total. And on top of the new endings, dozens of new animation scenes have been added/remixed, too, further fleshing out Vincent’s relationship with various characters in the story. But the highlight of these additions are the ones centered around Rin, a brand new love interest for Vincent to pursue(or avoid).

Atlus isn’t new to adding new story content in their existing games, but it’s undeniably impressive how they managed to seamlessly include Rin into Catherine’s story without coming off as an obvious add-on and ruining the overall story.

GAMEPLAY

Vincent is cursed to experience deadly recurring nightmares. Each night, when he falls asleep, he’s taken to a purgatory-like realm with seemingly endless stacks of odd blocks, of which he has to climb if he wishes to live through the night.

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You’ll be navigating Vincent through an isometric stack of blocks suspended in mid-air. Your primary objective is to reach the peak of each level as quickly as you can. Vincent can grab on to a block which he can then push or pull to create makeshift stairways and opportunities to climb. There are many kinds of blocks, each with their special traits. Like for instance, some blocks can’t be moved, others break after being stepped on, and so on. Regardless of what type of block they are, none of them stay suspended forever. Over time, the blocks will begin to crumble and fall off, starting from the bottom and making its way up. This means you’ll need to keep climbing if you don’t want to fall to your death. It may sound simple enough but the way these blocks are stacked-up will often require some serious puzzle-solving to climb. You’ll need to think and think fast if you want to survive.

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One of the main issues the original release had was the difficulty spikes. It was prominent enough that the developers made adjustments via a patch, and even then, it was still a flipping challenge. To make the game more accessible, they’ve added a few noob-friendly tools into Full Body. The game now offers a wide selection of difficulty modes. These range from excruciatingly challenging to so-easy-you-literally-can’t-lose. This was a really good implementation, making the game more accessible to both hardcore puzzle-solvers and players who are mostly after the Story.

The game supports a new feature called Auto Mode. When toggled, it makes Vincent climb the blocks automatically. You can turn it off at any time and is great for when you need a little guidance. Players looking to work their brains still have the option of more challenging difficulties, and returning players can enjoy Remix Mode, which adds some new blocks with unique mechanics into the mix to help keep things fresh.

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The original Catherine had a prominent competitive scene, with tons of people beating records and posting their runs online. In Full Body, they’ve refined the online features just enough to accommodate the online community. You can view online rankings, player status (ie. how many players died and in what way per stage), and see player ‘Souls’ which show up as white floating orbs representing sections where other players have died, suggesting potential traps. Lastly, it’s worth noting that there’s couch co-op play. It’s nothing special, but it’s great to have it anyway.

VISUALS & PERFORMANCE

Catherine_ Full Body_20190914180230-min

Visually, I can say that Catherine certainly aged well. Even so, the Studio made efforts to enhance the game with some current-gen flare. Textures look crispier and jagged lines are virtually non-existent. The color output seems to have been juiced up, too, but the vignette filter seems to have been removed entirely, which isn’t an issue, to be honest. Nevertheless, the game didn’t get any significant boosts when compared to the original, though it still passes for a current-gen title.

The animated cutscenes were top-notch even before, and in Full-body, they’ve added some new scenes with the same level of quality, if not more. The original had a solid jazzy soundtrack, too. It supplemented the game’s visual pseudo-realistic, stylized anime vibe well, and in Full Body, they’ve even added a couple of new tracks to accompany the refreshed visuals.

VERDICT

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The original Catherine was an interesting brew of mixed berries that offered a very unique experience. And like full-bodied wine, the game stood to have gotten only better with time.

Catherine’s appeal may not be for everyone. So if the original didn’t interest you the first time, it’s likely this one won’t either. Full Body attempts to reintroduce itself in its ‘definitive’ form, further refined as a Puzzle-platformer and a Visual Novel. If you’re new to the series but are even remotely a fan of either genre, then there’s a worthwhile experience waiting for you in Catherine: Full Body.

Returning players may find it hard to justify the full price point, but if you’re interested in exploring Rin’s arc or any of the new scenes and characters, there’s a good number of fresh stories here to digest. And for those who enjoyed the puzzle-platforming above all from the original, then the nearly doubled number of stages, additional modes, and improved online support will have you climbing through Vincent’s fatal nightmare with glee. 


Dian Raval

 
Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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