Developed By: Atlus, Studio Zero
Published By: Atlus
Platforms: Playstation 4
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Story plots that feature infidelity as it’s main driving force coupled with puzzle mechanics to solve problems is a very odd combination. Nonetheless, that did not hold Atlus back in coming up with Catherine back in 2011. The plot, the puzzle mechanics in addition to the rather well used sexual innuendos with most of its female characters is rather well placed if not bold. That said the game was a hit for many hot-blooded males and even females who are equally intrigued with the premise of the game. Fast forward 8 years and riding on the era of remastering and port over titles, Atlus has released Catherine: Full Body. However, to treat this one as a mere simple port or plain remaster is certainly a mistake. Atlus has made sure that this isn’t as simple as that. Their objective is to give old players as well as new ones a real full-body experience they can never forget.
What is Catherine?
Nothing is changed drastically in terms of its story from its 2011 counterpart. The story revolves around a mop-haired Vincent Brooks, who is not only financially poor but also not into commitments especially when it comes to relationships. While this poor chap seems to have a recipe for a disaster in life, he does have something many of his friends would envy, a girlfriend. His other half, Katherine McBride, is your typical type-A kind of woman – mature, intelligent, responsible and dominant. Something you can find hard to associate with someone like Vincent. Katherine wishes to get married and settle down while Vincent finds it hard to accept the idea and does not wish to feel tied down. Things get interesting when Vincent – while feeling intoxicated, meets Catherine whom he meets at the bar late night and ends up sleeping with her.
Furthermore, there is rumour dubbed “The Woman’s Wrath” which involves cheating men falling into a nightmare in which they are required to survive the night and if they die in it, they will die in reality. One interesting tidbit is that all of these men appear to be sheep and you will find out why in the game. The mysterious deaths and the Infidelity theme is one of the main factors that drives the whole story. That said, this game is the closest thing to an adult game that any current generation console players can get.
There are two main gameplay types in Catherine: Full Body. One is the puzzle section and the other the social aspect. The puzzle sections are the biggest chunk that makes up almost the entirety of the whole game while the social aspect is only present in the story mode. Completing each puzzle level progresses the story and unfolds more answers to its mysterious story plot. The puzzles themselves aren’t entirely difficult – though you can improve (or worsen) your quality of life by changing the difficulty. The main objective is to climb a tower that consists of large blocks which you can push and pull in order to reach to the top to save yourself for the night. Whilst climbing, the bottom part of the tower will slowly crumble which instils a sense of urgency to climb to the top as fast as possible. If that is too hard to do, you can simply switch the difficulty to Easy which takes away the crumbling part and thus allow you to climb at your own leisure or you can make use of the Undo button which is limited but very useful.
After completing each puzzle sections you will have a moment of respite. At the top of each tower, you will have a small space where you can interact with sheep as well as saving your progress. Apart from the Nightmares, you also have a social space which is the Bar where Vincent and his friends very often visit. In the bar, time ticks slowly as you get to chat up with Vincent’s friends and the other patrons which can lead to more interesting insights of the world. Furthermore, the bar also has an Arcade game called Rapunzel which, by the way, also a block-pushing puzzle. However, as the story progresses, you will find out that the Arcade machine is much more than it seems. As you take your time in talking to patrons or checking up text messages on your phone, new patrons will start coming in and even the current ones actually have newer topics to be discussed. Much of these parts remain unchanged from the original game. However, as said before, this is not a mere simple port over. There is a lot more additional content that was added in.
Old Feels, New Seductions
Catherine: Full Body comes with chock-full of changes and new additions on top what is already an amazing existing package. The most obvious addition one will notice immediately is the new girl, Rin. She is also the first girl Vincent will bump into at the start of the game. The addition of Rin means there also additional dialogues as well cutscenes that were never present on the original one. There are more than 20 new scenes added in that are weaved in through the existing plot. There are also additional endings not just for Rin but also for Catherine and Katherine. Rin doesn’t just act as an additional love interest to Vincent but also a minor mechanic during the Nightmare puzzle stages where her piano playing will slow down the rate of the crumbling blocks to give you some small additional time to make your way up.
The looks department in the game has also been given an update with many of environments receiving new lighting and textures in both the Nightmare and reality sections but this is thanks to the game using the Persona 5 engine which allowed the developers more room to spice up the game further. There is an art style that is very bold and strong yet attractive – again much thanks to the new engine. Much like Atlus’s other games, it always finds a good balance between being not too crude and not too anime-ish.
There are also more than 500 puzzles – which is inclusive in all of the various modes in the game and also the Rapunzel minigame! The puzzles themselves have also been given additional tweaks to add a bit more challenge and also a new mode called Remix mode has been added which you can choose at the start of the story mode. The Remix mode makes all of those blocks into Tetris-like shapes instead of single blocks in so you will need to play your block pulling and pushing strategies differently.
In addition, the game also opens up the multiplayer mode further by adding in online features into it. The Online Arena is the newest addition in this mode where you can battle it out with other players on casual matches or Ranked ones. Original modes such as Colosseum and Babel remained with the latter given the online treatment. In Colosseum, it is a best of three rounds tournament where you and your buddy can go head-to-head to see who reaches the top fast. Babel is your standard versus mode where you to select four themed towers to climb. The goal is to reach the number of steps required in order to win a stage. The number of steps can vary and so playing it with a friend may help to ease things a little bit as the number of steps is reduced. The block patterns, as well as its arrangements, changes progressively so it is highly recommended to complete the story mode first before attempting this to get a better understanding as well as learning Techniques which are introduced during the story mode.
Its All in the Technique
During your progress in the story mode, you will come across terms called Techniques which are basically tricks you can apply in order to traverse to the top. Most of these techniques can be discovered by chatting up with certain sheep at the Landing. While there are many techniques to remember, there is a likelihood you may have used them unconsciously even before discovering them. With names such as Pyramid, Corner Spider or even Geronimo, it can be tough to remember all of them. Fortunately, in this full-bodied version, everything is recorded and can be perused anytime at the save point at every Landing. That way you can check them out in case you may have forgotten some of them.
It can be hard to imagine how many of these techniques can be applied consistently as I have managed to gone pass most of the levels just by only using the first two early techniques I have picked up. However subsequent levels suddenly require me to check on the other techniques and make use of them and then I found myself completing many of the ways faster. Thus, this made me enjoyed the game further because incorporating different techniques even on levels that I have completed was a sheer joy to watch especially seeing how fast I got Vincent to the top.
What I Really Liked
While I have tangled with the game back in 2011, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the game as a whole nor I was exactly into puzzle type games or maybe I was just a tad young to even understand the context of the game. Playing right now, I can clearly see why this has been considered one of Atlus’s most bizarre and hit game for many.
The puzzles in the game carries simplicity in its appearance but yet has so much depth into it as you delve deeper into it. At the start, a simple push, pull and climb is sufficed enough to get you anywhere but as the game ups the tempo, you will soon realize how important it is to incorporate different techniques which may deemed confusing at first. Once you apply them by utilizing the random arrangement of those blocks and see how all of it just fit so nicely into place really gives a sense of great achievement. You can even feel the need to really win for the sake of Vincent despite the fact he isn’t the type that needs saving but needs a slap.
The social aspects are intriguing for players to explore. The Bar especially feels like a room that is filled with a lot of hidden stuff waiting to be discovered. Conversations with different patrons also open up the story and the world bit by bit and realizing some of the male patrons were actually the sheep that you meet in the Nightmare gives further depth as they share with you their life and troubles. Furthermore, the in-between moments when either Catherine or Katherine calls and text and where you need to decide what kind of answer should you reply can really question yourself how would you handle the situation if it falls onto you in real life.
The story as many, if not some, drives on the premise of the infidelity of men. The story is absolutely well unfolded and written and at times can be confusing but yet still is able to tug at the heartstrings especially in men. Even some of the cutscenes I can’t help but be upset on why Vincent did what he did and some were so awkward that is hard for me to watch but all of it was in an engrossing way.
What I Didn’t Really Like
While the game can be considered as one of the best remastered, enhanced or ports, there are some changes that didn’t feel quite natural. The biggest and jarring one is the character, Rin. While her presence does play out some interesting moments for Vincent, there are some that did not click quite naturally. For instance, you have a scene where Vincent meeting up one his buddies over lunch looking deadpan tired as he has not had a good sleep for days and when asked if he would be going to the Bar later which our protagonist replied yes casually albeit weakly. The next scene plays out where he saves Rin from a drunkard in the Bar but this time, he is all spruced up as if the major fatigue he had never happened. It is obvious the scenes with Rin are new but it takes away the flow of the story quite awkwardly.
In addition to Rin, her piano music which slows down the crumbling blocks doesn’t really make too much of a difference as you most likely climb a lot faster than the crumbling blocks itself. It felt more like a needless additional mechanic that doesn’t get played out fully as it should. However, I have only played on the Normal difficulty setting. There is a good chance her piano music may be well used on the much higher difficulty settings.
Catherine: Full Body is one game that may not attract the bigger crowd as the mature and real-life adult content can be put off to some. However, Atlus themselves have cleverly crafted some moments with the use of relatable mid-life crisis and couple it up with unique puzzle elements to come up with a game that is both enjoyable and approachable. Though I felt the younger or kiddie crowd might need to steer away from this title as many of context in the game does touch on a lot of adult stuff. That said, Atlus has once again given life to one of the most hidden gems in their library of great games that they have and this one truly will give you a very good full-body experience.
Enjoyed the review? Well, head on here to buy Catherine: Full Body and experience the bliss for yourself!