Catherine: Full Body Review – Better Gameplay, Worse Story
Catherine: Full BodySeptember 3rd, 2019
Vincent Brooks was a hapless idiot. He was innocent enough, well-meaning, but entirely socially inept and seemingly incapable of holding things together. It always felt as if the horrific things happening to Vincent were placed upon him, not his fault, and he was a victim. But not anymore. Catherine: Full Body expands Vincent's story in new ways, and we see a different side to our protagonist, one that's not quite so innocent or flattering, and for better or worse (mostly worse) it forever changes a favored character of a cult classic game.
Catherine has been a cult classic since it launched back in 2011. The usual niche crowd loved it, but it actually managed to find a further following when people started running the game as a competitive title, racing against one another, despite the game never actually supporting multiplayer. It's that dedicated competitive scene that gave Atlus the impetus to create Catherine: Full Body. Having aged like a full-bodied wine, Catherine is back with new multiplayer modes, tougher challenges than ever before, and more story additions to flesh out the world.
The story follows Vincent as he begins to have unusual nightmares and doubts about his relationship with his girlfriend Katherine. After a traumatic nightmare where he runs from monsters and climbs on blocks, he wakes up next to a brand new girl, Catherine. He concludes that he must've slept with her after drinking too much and is ridden with guilt, and this is where our story kicks off. Half a unique romance simulator with two potential partners, and half a block-climbing nightmare simulator where you're forced to confront the angered spirits of a committed relationship.
While the core Catherine experience is still here and is still very good, there have been significant changes in the way the story plays out. Interspersed with the usual cutscenes are several brand new scenes featuring Rin, the new girl in town whom Vincent runs in to and happens to save from a stalker. Ridden with the usual amnesia trope, Rin ends up working at Vincent's usual bar, the Stray Sheep and moves in right next door to him. Her innocent appearance and chirpy demeanor mean Vincent ends up falling for her while embroiled in an already sticky love triangle.
Catherine's block sliding gameplay in nightmares is as you remember it. While trapped in a world of panicking sheep which resemble people you know from the Stray Sheep, you are forced to push and slide large cubes while ascending a seemingly endless tower. You can grip to the edges of blocks to shimmy along, push and pull them, and blocks can stay in the air as long as they're connected to block below by the edge. Using this knowledge, you must climb as high as you can so you don't fall into the void. There is one new addition to the story mode gameplay, being Remix mode. Here you'll find several Tetris-like blocks which connect, and will result in you pulling out massive sections of wall at the same time. Honestly, this makes the story mode feel a bit easier if anything, but it's a nice change of pace.
To expand on the gameplay options available in Catherine: Full Body, Atlus added local multiplayer, online multiplayer and more stages. Babel is a vastly expanded (and incredibly difficult for me, at least) challenge mode, which offers steep challenges to experienced or brave players. The online options give the competitive fans of the game a place to rejoice at last, although in my searches for an online opponent I was left waiting a long time and came away empty-handed. The Rapunzel minigame returns, offering even more blocks to push and pull, and is now Super Rapunzel, complete with brand new stages to enjoy for puzzle fans.
When it comes to the new modes and stages, it's more of a good thing and makes it impossible to complain. If you're a player who enjoyed Catherine for its puzzling block gameplay, then Catherine: Full Body is the definitive version of a game you love. But if you played it specifically for its relationship simulation, this might not be what you're looking for…
There will be some mild story spoilers from this point forward until the summary below.
Basically, Vincent ends up falling for Rin. Whereas before Catherine forced her way into his life and his stupidity prevented him from being forthright about his feelings, or honestly about his relationship. It was ridiculous, but it was plausible deniability. With Rin, she falls into his life, she's cute, and so he falls for her, proving his lack of commitment to his relationship. It's a much more open and shut case and makes Vincent seem like a man in a "committed" relationship who is looking for other options, instead of one that just had options forced into his life. Essentially, would I allow a deadbeat loser like Vincent back into my life after he falls for Rin? Hell no, he's gone.
Not to mention, Rin is actually a guy, just presents as feminine. This isn't really a problem, but when Vincent bursts into Rin's apartment while she's naked and finds this out, he reacts pretty badly, having a mild relationship and sexuality crisis. Add this to what fans already know about Erica, and it paints a pretty problematic picture which distracts from what was a far better story without all of these additions. While I enjoyed the story, I couldn't help but think it was better before. Maybe it's because I've grown up, but Vincent doesn't come across as the likable fool I remember, but a selfish and manipulative bastard instead. And that's with me getting the reconciliation ending.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Catherine: Full Body is the definitive version of a cult classic game, in terms of gameplay. When it comes to the story and romance simulation side of the game, I can't help but feel it's a step down when compared to what we already had years ago. Still a great game that deserves to be experienced, but Catherine: Full Body should only be essential for those die-hard fans and the competitive scene, everyone else can wait for a sale.
- More gameplay options than ever
- Multiplayer components
- No players online for multiplayer
- Arguably worse story than before