Catherine: Full Body Review- Fuller, Richer Horror

Posted September 2, 2019 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developer: Atlus, Studio Zero

Publisher: Atlus, Sega

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Available on: PS4

NOTE: The review code for Catherine: Full Body was provided by Sega.

In 2011, gamers were treated to a different gaming experience in the form of Catherine. Part puzzle/platformer, part romance sim, and part horror game, Catherine proved to be a unique and challenging title that was unlike anything else on the PS3 and the Xbox 360 at the time. It was certainly one of the more memorable titles from that generation, and with multiple endings offered plenty of reasons to return to it for multiple playthroughs.

Fast forward eight years, and we now have the definitive version of the game in Catherine: Full Body. This new version feels more like a reboot instead of just a remaster (think what Capcom did earlier in the year with Resident Evil 2), and adds additional story elements, a new character, and extra game modes. The new package makes for a fuller, richer horror experience that should please old and new fans alike.

For those not familiar with the story, the game follows Vincent Brooks, a 32 year old computer programmer who for the past five years has been dating Katherine. Katherine brings up the subject of marriage, and Vincent isn’t quite so sure. One night while drinking at his favorite bar, The Stray Sheep, Vincent encounters Catherine, a very different girl from his girlfriend despite their similarity in names. She leads Vincent astray, and trouble and nightmares in which Vincent must overcome towering puzzles ensue. The new title adds a third character to the mix, the seemingly very innocent Rin. Her relationship with Vincent starts off innocently enough, but soon adds its own set of complications.

The story is full of choices to make, from responses in conversations, who you speak with, and the actions you take. Puzzles can be tackled in a variety of ways, and often require one to be fleet of foot and able to make quick decisions. Death can come in many ways, and is often quite brutal. Die in your dreams, and it’s game over, unless you play on the easiest difficulty level (there you have unlimited tries, even when getting killed).

When Catherine came out in 2011, it was a notoriously difficult game, so much so that Sega added an Easy and Very Easy difficulty mode for the Western release. Catherine: Full Body similarly makes itself accessible to gamers of all skill levels. Safety allows gamers to fully enjoy the story, with trap blocks and time limits removed in the puzzles. Note that puzzles still aren’t a cakewalk here, and you can die, it’s just death won’t bring a game over screen. Also in Safety you can auto-climb, if you’re only wanting to experience the story or if a puzzle proves to be too confounding. Easy mode is a step up, with puzzle blocks active, though you have a more generous time limit. Normal provides a balanced challenge, and Hard will put you to the test to survive.

Outside of the story, which is presented as an episode of the Golden Playhouse, unfolding over eight levels (with some additional levels tossed in depending on the choices you make), there are three additional game modes for you to try out- Babel, Colosseum, and Online Arena.

Babel is a four part puzzle mode with specific challenges, and can be played solo or co-op. Note that on co-op if either partner dies, it’s game over for both. The four stages- Altar, Menhir, Obelisk, and Astra Mundi- are unlocked through the story mode, and once all are unlocked, can be tackled in any order. Your best time and blocks climbed are recorded on a leaderboard, so you can see how you fared compared with other players. Both the Colosseum and the Online Arena are competitive multiplayer modes, with the Colosseum being for local competition and the other, as its name indicates, is for competing online. They make for some nice additions to the overall game, but the meat of the title in in the Golden Playhouse, as the story and your choices offer the biggest draw.

The Golden Playhouse can be played online or off. Playing online lets you see other players as the sheep in Vincent’s nightmares, and lets you know how others responded to the questions posed in the confessional between puzzle stages. You can’t interact with others here, but it can be interesting to see how others responded (the responses are displayed in a pie chart prior to you tackling the next puzzle stage). The game does have an auto-save feature, but you can also save progress on your cell phone while in the bar (you can also replay puzzle stages from your phone when you start a new run) and in a book between the puzzle stages.

The game runs smoothly and the conversation choices are meaningful in how things play out. A meter marks how your responses lead you more towards chaos or order, or even if you’re more in the middle. The bar offers other diversions, like the Rapunzel video game (played in stages like the main story), a jukebox in which you can choose the background music in the bar (with tracks from both the original and new versions of Catherine, as well as tracks from various Persona games), and of course the restroom, in which horrific visions can appear in the mirror there. If there is one major flaw, it’s that sometimes you wish you could make more choices for Vincent, as he can be a frustratingly indecisive character. Both Katherine and Catherine can rub one the wrong way as well, but overall the characters are well defined. The multiple endings do offer plenty of incentive to make more than one playthrough (each run can last 10-12 hours, depending on how much you talk in the bar). My first run and my daughter’s were both very different, each one showing things the other didn’t encounter. This gives a nice replay value to the game, with the extra modes being a bonus.

In all, Catherine: Full Body proves to be a worthy addition to your PS4 library, and the fact that this is a more definitive edition makes it different enough from the original to feel like a brand new game. There is plenty to do, with branching story lines and other gameplay modes to challenge you, making this a good bang for your buck. It still offers one of the more unique horror gaming experiences on the console, and in that makes it a must play title. The difficulty modes make this accessible to all skill levels, so those that may have become too frustrated with the puzzles in the original can jump in and enjoy this. It’s another fine example of when a developer shows a lot of love to a property, and it provides a fresh experience to stand with the other new titles of the year.

9.5/10 stars

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus