I have a soft spot for the first version of Catherine on the PlayStation 3. It was one of the first games that I got hooked on way back when. It was my “baby’s first steps” when it came to my love for playing video games. Since then, I have played a lot more video games and Catherine really helped me get over my nervousness about playing more action based games. I still have the original game on my PS3 but, since I have moved onto the PlayStation 4, I can’t just boot it up unless I bother to hook up my PS3 into my television.
Enter Catherine: Full Body, a remake of the original game but with some added features as well as a new character to play around with. This was a game I was eagerly awaiting and, now that I have played it, I can’t really say that I enjoyed the new stuff they added.
Don’t get me wrong! Catherine: Full Body is still an incredibly fun and addictive puzzle game. The basics are intact and Atlus did a good job of introducing Rin, the new potential love interest for Vincent, and the new Remix game mode gives a lot of added challenge to someone like me who wanted something a little different from the entire “push the blocks to make a staircase” gameplay. So why do I have the nagging feeling that these additions don’t really make the entire Catherine experience any better? It took me a while to figure it out but it basically boils down to the fact that I played the original Catherine a whole lot.
Catherine: Full Body isn’t a sequel to the original game. It’s more like a remaster with a whole lot of additional content. The story is still basically the same. Vincent Brooks, a hapless man-child, feels pressured by Katerine, his longtime girlfriend, to tie the knot. One night, a blonde bombshell named Catherine hooks up with Vincent. After this happens, Vincent starts having nightmares where he has to climb up a gigantic wall and, if he falls, he will succumb to the “curse” that seems to be killing men in their sleep.
Full Body does add a twist to the story with the addition of Rin (or Qatherine?) to the entire tale. Rin is a naive and innocent girl with amnesia who literally bumps into Vincent while trying to escape a mysterious stalker. Vincent and his friends help Rin out and she becomes another potential paramour for the hapless Vincent.
I generally like the concept of Rin as she’s supposed to give the player another choice instead of either Katerine or Catherine. What I don’t like is how her inclusion doesn’t fully coalesce with the original story. Atlus put in a tremendous amount of effort to make it seem like Rin is a part of the original story. They included several new animated cutscenes where Rin is involved as well as reworking some of the dialogue so that the character’s talk about and with her.
The issue is that comes off as rather obvious that she’s wasn’t part of the original story since I played the first game. You can tell that she was shoehorned in because, during the cutscenes, Vincent’s friends would focus on Rin and shortly after, they’ll go “By the way…”and then talk about his problems with either Catherine or Katherine. This happens all the time. If I didn’t play the original Catherine, maybe I wouldn’t notice it but, since I did, it feels so awkward as they keep on switching topics instead of following a single train of thought.
It doesn’t help matters that, in order to pursue Rin as Vincent’s love interest, you will actively have to answer the new morality questions in a specific way. The morality questions mechanic was one of my favorite parts of the original game. Basically, at certain points, you’ll be asked some questions that deal with certain situations and how you would react to them. Seeing how I stack up with the rest of the world (thanks to the game gathering the data of other players) was intriguing.
The questions also serve a secondary purpose as it determines if you’ll get either Catherine or Katherine and which ending you get. Adding Rin kind of destroys this since, in order to actually get Rin, you will have to intentionally not follow your instincts or moral code. Well, you may accidentally but the questions I got ensured that I wouldn’t get Rin. I really wish the new questions regarding Rin were a little more flexible or, at the very least, not so obvious. In fact, due to the way I answered the Rin-specific questions, she pretty much left the story! What a waste!
Rin isn’t the only thing Atlus added to Catherine: Full Body. They also included a new game mode called Remix. It’s still basically the same game mechanic of pushing and pulling in blocks in order to allow Vincent to scale the wall. Instead of the wall just spanning cubes, there are specific blocks that are going to be stuck together.
This really adds to the entire difficulty in my experience, both in a good way and in a bad way. In the original Catherine, I was able to scale the walls quickly even though I relied on the same couple of strategies. I couldn’t use these same strategies in Remix mode because of the irregular sizes and shapes of the blocks! This is both a blessing and a curse to Catherine veterans. It’s a blessing as it’s definitely more challenging and feels refreshing. It’s also a curse since it feels like the number of solutions are much more limited! You have to figure out what the designer was thinking of and it limits a lot of the player’s creativity with finding an adequate solution. It can get downright frustrating when you’ve been stuck on the same level for hours. If you’re not some puzzle god, believe me. You will get stuck!
It may seem like I’m bellyaching a lot during this review and you may think that I’m going to give a negative overall rating to Catherine: Full Body. You’d be wrong. Despite my problems with the new additional content that Altus put in here, the original content is just so good that I still will have to recommend this game.
The base story of Vincent being stuck between the strict and organized Katherine and the more whimsical and spontaneous Catherine is still told in a brilliant and engaging way and you really want to see what will happen to them. The returning supporting cast members are also likable. In fact, a couple of them, more specifically, Erica, are given a lot more depth to their personality thanks to their interactions with Rin. The voice acting is exceptional and, despite how much I didn’t like how she was included in the story, Rin’s soft and innocent intonations comes off as very endearing.
I didn’t notice any graphical enhancements to the original PS3 game but, then again, the graphics and art style was already good. A part of me is glad that Atlus didn’t attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken. The controls do feel a little bit more slippery as there were more times when Vincent would move an extra step when I didn’t intend him to. It’s something to note but nothing that breaks the game. Basically, Catherine was already an excellent game and, since they just added stuff to the base game, it’s still really good but its excellence feels a little diluted as the new things they added feel extraneous and inessential.
There is a part of me that wishes that Atlus gave the option to play the original Catherine and the Full Body version as the additional stuff they did add isn’t blended well. Maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if I didn’t play the original Catherine to death. Even with that, Catherine: Full Body gets two thumbs up from me since the original game is already great so why shouldn’t I recommend this?
Now, where’s my Catherine 2, Atlus?
Have you played Catherine: Full Body? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!