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Catherine: Full Body (PS4) Review

November 7, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Catherine: Full Body
5
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Catherine: Full Body (PS4) Review  

I completely missed Catherine when it first came out 8 years ago. It just wasn’t in my wheelhouse at all, and the reviews (at the time) said it was a stylish adventure game married to a bad puzzle game. Well, those reviews largely stand now but I might even question the praise of its adventure game setting. To be fair, Catherine does have some things going for it, but the game was fairly unpleasant to play.

The Basic Story

Catherine: Full Body keeps the same basic premise of the original Catherine. You play as Vincent, a slightly slacker computer programmer who has zero ambition in life. You have a girlfriend, Katherine, who is pressuring you to become an adult and get with it but Vincent is hesitant about doing this.

One night, Vincent meets Catherine and they quickly begin an affair. Soon Vincent is dealing with his girlfriend Katherine, his mistress Catherine, and a new (to this version of the game) “Rin,” who Vincent literally saves from a giant chasing her one night. She quickly insinuates herself into his life and Vincent is being pulled in different directions by everyone.

Cast and Crew

In addition to the three main women, there are other characters that you interact with on a nightly basis. There is Erica, a bar waitress, and a gang of friends from school that you get drunk with every night: Orlando, Johnny and Toby. There is “The “Boss,” the bartender of the Stray Sheep, which is where the whole adventure game takes place, as well as other patrons you can talk to. This part of the game is Japanese Cheers and you are playing the role of Norm Peterson.

Adventure Game Woes

There are some things that really bugged me about certain elements of this part of the game. For one, Catherine is kind of bad about telling you how to do certain things. Games like Persona or even Final Fantasy 7 tend to highlight things you can interact with. This game doesn’t. Here’s an example: Catherine (the mistress one) somewhat frequently sends you risqué photos of herself to your cell phone. If you want to view them, Vincent will quickly pull out his phone, take one look, and then go “You can’t view this in public, go somewhere private and look there.”…and that’s it. No hint about where that is, or what to do.

I had to go online and look up what to actually do – you have to go into the bathroom, go into the stall and look there. WHY DOESN’T THE GAME TELL YOU TO JUST DO THAT?

Another example: there are people at the bar that you can talk to. One guy with glasses sitting at the bar is a journalist who constantly bemoans that he has no leads. I would run up to talk to him and he just says “No new leads today.”

Apparently, to actually talk to him you have to sit at the bar, turn to him, and only then you can actually start a dialog. Again, nowhere in the game is this actually explained, which is why I missed it on my first and only playthrough.

Wheel of Mortality, turn turn turn

There are two big things you do at the bar: drink and have dialogs with people. Drinking increases your run speed for the puzzle game, but the bigger thing is the conversations you have.

Often times, you’ll be presented with a dialog choice from people. These come in the form of responses to comments made by your friends or in text message responses you can send to people. When you pick an option, a little morality meter will pop up on screen that shows you being “good” or “bad.” I put these in quotes because it isn’t quite as rigidly defined as say, Mass Effect. You skin doesn’t start cracking and you gain red eyes for making a “bad” choice, it just helps determine which ending you get, which there are a fair amount of.

Adventure Positives

The one thing I’ll point out as a positive to the adventure side is that you can clearly see the influence this game had on Persona 5. The intro sequence is a masterclass in terms of framing and camera movement that most games don’t even attempt. Typical games have very static camera shots and angles just to run through information. This game does have some interesting work, at least in this part, about what you should be focusing on.

A Puzzling Game

The bar stuff takes up about 30 to 40 percent of the game. The other part is taken up by the puzzle game and…yeesh.

The goal in these puzzle levels is basically to climb a tower of blocks to the exit. You can pull out blocks in the towers to make bridges, steps or create holes in the tower for you to climb. You cannot jump, so you need to be able to make this stuff – particularly steps and stairs.

So long as a block is touching another block, it will stay aloft and not fall into the abyss below. Every 10 seconds or so, a level will fall from the bottom of the tower into the abyss, so you really have to get a move on and start climbing quickly. There are two things to really concern yourself with this system: the types of blocks and power ups.

Blockhead

There are numerous types of blocks for you to use or avoid, but they are generally easy enough to understand. Also, this is my own terminology; I’m sure they have some official name, but I don’t really care.

· Normal Blocks – these make up about 70% of the blocks you’ll encounter in the towers. They can be moved normally and can connect to other blocks normally
· Non-Connectors – These blocks can be moved normally but they can’t latch onto other blocks. Annoyingly, they look very similar to normal blocks, aside from slightly lighter shade of brown outlines, so you might get tripped up by them.
· Heavy Blocks – These blocks can be used but require a few more seconds to push and pull, due to their weight. They also can’t connect to other blocks.
· Crumble Blocks – Blocks that crumble after you step on them too much, which is after three steps. These can connect to other blocks but you have to be careful since they can fall away.
· Bomb Blocks – Blocks that explode after you step on them. Once they explode, they take out a certain amount of surrounding blocks, so you have to be careful with them
· Joker Blocks – This type of block has a somewhat ghastly smile on it. They can also move around before you step on them to “kill” them.
· Trap Blocks – These are blocks that have a pressure-sensitive trap on them. When you step on one, spikes shoot from the bottom to impale you. The trick is to step on it, then immediately step off
· Ice Blocks – Blocks that are slippery when wet. These blocks don’t have a lot of friction, so when you try to shove one, it will keep on moving until it hits another block.
There are probably 3 or 4 more blocks that I haven’t mentioned, like a Black Hole block, but you get the idea. Most blocks have their different attributes for movement, connecting and some have a special ability that can activate.

Power Ups

Thankfully, there aren’t nearly as many power ups in the game. These are usually used to help Vincent climb faster, manipulate blocks, or get rid of enemies. The Energy Drink lets you jump up two blocks, which is extremely useful. The Bell causes all unique blocks to just become regular ones, so if you are in a situation with a ton of bomb blocks or unmovable ones, this can fix that. The “White Block” creates 9 blocks around you, from where you throw it. This is primarily used in case you need more room to maneuver, or you need additional blocks to create paths. Finally there is The Bible, which (just like in real life) is used to eliminate all the enemies that are on the screen. You can find these items in the towers or you can occasionally buy them in the hub.

Rewinding Music

There are two last things to talk about when it comes to the puzzle mode. If you make a mistake, say you pushed a block off and didn’t mean to or you created a path that has no way of working, you can rewind time to your last action. You can keep rewinding time, based on how many points you have saved up. You can also collect pillows in the puzzle world, which grant you more turns to rewind.

In addition, occasionally Rin will start playing piano music on a stage. This has the benefit of significantly slowing how fast the level drops off.

Other Hazards

Other hazards are also present in the levels. There are enemy sheep that can block your progress or push you around. You can push back or use the Bible to get rid of them. After 3 or 4 stages (typically), you’ll have to run from a boss. This means something giant will be trying to get at you, and you have to escape quickly. Most bosses have some way of screwing with blocks or the towers, so you also have to watch out for that.

The Sheeple

When you’re in the action part, at the end of every level, you’ll reach a hub area full of sheep, who are actually people. Some of the sheep are helpful, giving you tips on how to build stuff or sell you things. Others are just around to talk to, or you can glean some info on their lives. Others yet are more sociopathic and are the enemies I mentioned above. You can also talk to Rin, once you unlock her, to get more of her story.

You are also asked a morality question to start the next level. This factors into the alignment meter mechanic that I mentioned.

This Isn’t Fun… At All

By far, I found the biggest problem with Catherine is that the “game” part isn’t fun. I think I enjoyed the 6th world the most – the one with the ice blocks if I remember correctly – but I still didn’t have a ton of enjoyment with it.

For one, the game makes you want to occasionally hang off blocks from the back of the tower, where the camera is awful. The bricks of the tower literally get in the way and the controls for Vincent can get really wonky in certain spots.

Also, this whole block moving/building stuff just isn’t pleasant. If the game keeps things simple, it can be, but by the third day (stage), Catherine got really tough. On the 7th day, I literally spent OVER AN HOUR trying to do ONE GODDAMN puzzle. I got so frustrated that I just turned the game on easy mode, activated “Auto-Climb” and let the game finish the level for me. By that time, it had already broken me.

The Full Upgrade

So, this being the “Full Body” edition, there are some upgrades to mention. For starters, Rin is a wholly new creation in this game, as opposed to the PS3/360 version. Because of that, there are new endings with her, as well as with the other two Catherines.

Also there is a remixed gameplay mode. Instead of manipulating single blocks, there are special pieces that can be pushed/pulled. These are more akin to Tetris pieces, and it’s an interesting mode for die-hard players of the game.

There is also the online multiplayer which….”yikes” comes to mind.

Online? Multiplayer

So a big reason I got this game was because I had intended to play it online with a friend. This game has both competitive and cooperative modes of play, as well as a lot of DLC (including some Persona 5 stuff) for players to customize their characters with.

The problem? IT DOESN’T WORK AT ALL!!!

From what I gather, if you do a random request you might be able to get into an online session, but this is literally it. Anytime you try and match-make with a friend, the connection bombs out and you both get dropped.

This isn’t a new problem, either. I could understand if when the game originally came out (September 3rd), there was an issue. As I write this it’s November 5th and no mention from any Sega/Atlus account about this problem, or no patch has been released.

Digging further into Reddit, this is an issue that has never been fixed in the Japanese release of Full Body, which was in February of this year. So, for 9 months you literally cannot play an online match with a friend and they’ve done zero work fixing it, or even lying like most company’s do and saying they are trying to.

Any Positives?

As you might have gleamed, I am fairly negative on this game, both from the original iteration to this current one, where one of the core systems doesn’t work in the slightest. So, did I enjoy anything?

Well, the one thing that did stand out to me a lot was the voice acting. It features a lot of the usual Atlus heavy-hitters: Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Johnny Yong Bosch, Michelle Ruff, etc. They all do some really solid work, with Laura Bailey, in particular, using a voice I wouldn’t have expected of her. The story might be fairly “Meh” worthy, but all the actors in the game did some standout work.

5.0
The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
If the multiplayer had worked at all, this might get a point or two higher in the final score. Considering they never even bothered to fix it from the Japanese release, it just shows a lack of care on the part of either the developers and/or publisher. Catherine has a somewhat interesting story, or at least interesting characters but it is hampered by annoying adventure game sections and the actual game part of Catherine is maddening. I can kind of see why it would appeal to certain people but I’m not one of them.
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