Developer: ATLUS | Publisher: ATLUS | Release date: 9/3/2019 | Genre: Action Platformer, Puzzle | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro
Review Copy provided for free by SEGA of America
Catherine: Full Body is an enhanced version of the original game Catherine that was released back in 2011 on the PlayStation 3. For better or worse, we have seen a ton of PS3 and PS2 games get the HD, definitive edition treatment over the past few years and that trend does not seem to be ending anytime soon. However, this is not merely a simple higher resolution port of the original game. Sure Catherine: Full Body makes use of enhanced visuals but there is so much more to the package that will lure in fans of the original and provide newcomers with a great new experience.
Catherine tells the story of Vincent Brooks who is plagued by recurring nightmares. These nightmares also seem to be a problem for a lot of men in town. Neither Vincent or any of those suffering from this nightmare can remember any of the details of it once they wake up. All that is left is a sense of dread knowing they were being chased by someone in their dream and that if they die in the dream they would be dead for real. While this sounds suspiciously like an 80’s era Wes Craven movie, it happens to be far more complex and entertaining than a visit to Elm Street. Rumors begin to circulate throughout the town that the men having these bad dreams are unfaithful and have been cursed for their infidelity. Vincent, however, has the love of his life in a woman named Katherine and all is well. That is until a mysterious young woman named Catherine enters his life. After a night of routine drinking, Vincent wakes up in bed with Catherine and then the true nightmare begins. Catherine: Full Body introduces a new character Qatherine (who goes by “Rin” for short) who suffers from amnesia and adds another welcome layer to the story and even more complexity to Vincent’s life.
The game is a hybrid of sorts that combines elements of dating/social sims, puzzle and platforming genres with a touch of horror sprinkled in. What I found pleasantly surprising in both this and the original release is just how well all of these elements blend. During the day and going into the evening the game takes on its social aspect. Here Vincent interacts with his various “Catherines” with choices that impact how the narrative plays out. The evenings are spent at a bar called The Stray Sheep where you guide Vincent through more social interactions with his friends as well as other patrons that come in and out of the bar. There is an arcade mini-game that can be played and the music in the bar can be changed via the jukebox that contains music from the game as well as the Persona series. Vincent will also receive calls and texts from his love interests and how you make him respond (if you even choose to answer) will determine just what kind of person he is and that will also have an impact on shaping the story.
Where the core of the gameplay lies is in Vincent’s nightmares that occur every night after he goes home. The nightmare plays out like a devilish (well I guess even more devilish) version of the 80’s arcade game Qbert. Fun fact: I love Qbert…and I suck at it. I suck at it more than anything I have ever been a failure at in my life. That makes the fact that I love Catherine so much extremely weird to me. In these puzzle sections, you start at the bottom of a tower of blocks and you have to push, pull and climb your way to the top. The challenge kicks in right off the top (in a good way) as you find the best way to reach the goal. While the blocks of the tower typically come in the moveable/ not moveable variety, the game throws special blocks at you as you progress through the story. Some of these include Ice Blocks that can force you to slide right off of the tower and Trap Blocks that either explode or can impale you if you stand on them. There are others but I will leave those for you to see for yourself. You can pull or push blocks to create ledges and stairways of sorts to get to the top all while gathering powerups and coins along the way. Powerups can help you if you get stuck with such items as a Bible that if used will insta-kill any enemies that may be on the tower. There is also a bell that will turn special blocks into normal blocks and more. Coins can be used to buy powerups between stages. It is between stages that you can interact with other men trapped in the nightmare. They look like sheep to you and you look like a sheep to them which I still find hilarious. Before moving on to the next phase of the tower you will be asked a multiple-choice question that gives insight into who Vincent is. You can see how your answers stack up against other players if you are connected to the network.
The aspect of Catherine: Full Body that I am most impressed with is how seamlessly ATLUS fits the new character Rin into the storyline. I have not played the original since 2012 and playing this version I could tell what was new but it was done so well that it’s hard to imagine that Rin wasn’t there all along. This version packs not only all-new story elements because of the inclusion of a new character but expands upon the existing storyline as well. There are now double the number of puzzles for a total of 500. There is a new Safety Mode that lets you skip playing the puzzle segments yourself and focus on the story. and a Remix Mode that adds new block types for an added challenge.
Another way that Catherine: Full Body shines is through its audio. The English voice cast returned to deliver the new lines of dialogue headlined by Troy Baker (who you know as at least one voice in everything that has required voice acting since…ever) as Vincent. The role of Rin is played by a newcomer to the series Brianna Knickerbocker (Shenmue 3/One Punch Man). While the English voice cast is excellent, there is also dual audio in this release if you want to play using the Japanese audio.
The music was handled by Shoji Meguro who has composed music for the Persona series. On top of the fantastic original soundtrack, this version contains some new tracks and the jukebox in the bar (as mentioned earlier) has a great selection of tunes from Persona 4: Golden, Persona 5 and many others. Hip-Hop heads with good ears will catch elements of the sample that DJ Muggs used for the track Lions in the Forest (with Planet Asia) in one of the later stages.
In addition to the Story Mode, Catherine: Full Body includes the following modes:
- Colosseum – This is a two-player mode where you compete with another player locally in different puzzle stages.
- Babel – A challenge mode that you can play solo or with another player. Tackling this mode with another player can make things a bit easier but if one of you dies, it’s game over. You can also unlock additional playable characters for use in this mode.
- Online Arena – This mode features ranked play with an online player of equal skill or unranked play versus a random opponent.
In the end, ATLUS could have easily taken Catherine, added hi-res textures and called it a day. Instead, they gave fans a great new way to experience an awesome game while giving new players a great entry point that gives them their money’s worth and then some. With all of the great new additions including 5 new endings and an overall great game as its foundation, Catherine: Full Body can be looked at as a great port and a fantastic new game all at once.
FINAL SCORE: 9.75/10