It’s been about eight years since Atlus released the original Catherine for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game caught many by surprise, mixing a dark and mature romantic storyline with addictive puzzle gameplay. Now, the Studio Zero team at Atlus have done their magic to release a new version of the game for a new generation. Dubbed Catherine: Full Body, Atlus has aged this gem like a fine wine, releasing it in a new form. With lots of new features, now fans of the game can experience it with a fresh perspective. For those that haven’t played it, now they can in its definitive form.
The original story of Catherine told the story of Vincent Brooks, a young engineer in a relationship with his girlfriend, Katherine McBride. One night, at the Stray Sheep bar, a young woman, Catherine with a C, comes in to seduce Vincent. After a puzzling nightmare, Vincent suddenly wakes up next to this new girl, having cheated on his girlfriend. Now Vincent has to struggle with trying to explain the situation to Katherine, or give into his urges and let Catherine seduce him. With Catherine: Full Body, the story remains incredibly true to the original, but with some additional content spliced in.
Catherine: Full Body not only adds new endings to the story, but most notably, it adds a new Catherine. To be more specific, a new love interest by the name of Rin has been seamlessly placed into the game. It’s handled surprisingly well, almost like Rin was there from the start. One night, Rin is being stalked by a mysterious being, suddenly saved by Vincent. Having amnesia, Rin takes a liking to Vincent and gets a job as a piano player at the Stray Sheep. Rin also takes an apartment next to Vincent, living next door and adding additional stories to his life. With new cutscenes and dialogue options, Rin’s addition feels incredibly natural, and fits with the overall insanity of the story.
As mentioned before, Vincent has nightmares as part of the story. Each night, he goes home and sleeps, only to play out his nightmare in a stage of puzzle blocks. Vincent must climb these blocks of various types to reach the top. As he climbs, the bottom section is constantly falling into the abyss, and it becomes a race against time to push blocks to climb higher. In end stages, he must escape from a large demon, usually symbolic of an event or person in his life. New to Catherine: Full Body is the addition of Rin’s piano melody. When Vincent gets into an emergency situation of falling, Rin may start playing the piano to slow down the blocks. It’s a great addition to the gameplay and feels like a good plot device to make the game more accessible.
Fans experiencing Catherine for the first time can take the classic route of the game. This allows them to experience the levels almost the same way they were in the original. There are some minor changes to various block patterns, but otherwise, the game will be very similar. New to Catherine: Full Body is the remix mode, which allows experienced players to go through the story brand new puzzles. Remix mode gives combined blocks to create all new strategies, making it a great challenge for veterans. Even then, Classic mode would be familiar for those same players that grew fond of Catherine almost a decade ago.
One of the newer elements to Full Body is the use of the Persona 5 engine. This makes the game truly shine in a spectacular cel-shaded allure. Catherine has never looked so good, both the game and the character. Studio 4 °C also returned to do twenty new anime cutscenes for the game, adding to the stellar presentation. Along with the returning animation studio, all the voice actors return to reprise their roles, with a few additional voices. The voice acting, both English and Japanese are superb and is a testament to the localization studio for doing such a good job. Not only is the dialogue well written, but the nuance in the performances really sell the narrative.
The game also has additional music, adding not only new tracks for Full Body, but additional tracks from other Atlus titles. Most notably, the Persona series has a bunch of added tracks to the Stray Sheep jukebox. Persona also has some cameo appearances from some fan favorite characters in the Stray Sheep bar. Aside from the new content, a lot of the old content is unlocked from the beginning. The Babel and Colosseum modes are now available from the start. Originally, the player had to finish the story to unlock these modes, which includes multiplayer. You can even play the multiplayer online now, though we didn’t experience it in our review.
Speaking of online, the game has a sort of record system kept if players choose to opt in. Records of their deaths will appear in other player’s games, and they’ll even represent the sheep. Some of the choices made in the game will also be recorded and added to an overall percentage. It’s a great way to show some sort of community immersion for the game, even if it’s not necessary. Either way, the game is still mainly a single-player experience, and it’s a strong one at that. With 13 endings, there’s plenty of replay value to play out Vincent’s story. Each decision the player makes will be important to choose the right path for the plot. Some endings are pretty standard while others go way out into pure absurdity.
Even if you’re in it just for the story, the new Safety Mode allows new players to skip puzzles. This allows for it to boil strictly down to the player’s choices to see all the endings. It really feels like the development team thought of everything to really improve the original game. Not only does it have additional story content, but twice the puzzles of the original game as well. Catherine: Full Body may not be a remake, but it’s a perfect example of how to make an excellent port. It even retains the game within the game, Rapunzel, adding even more puzzles for players to enjoy.
When it comes down to it, Catherine: Full Body improves on the story in each and every way. Even with the controversy that the game suffered earlier this year, this game is still the classic it always has been. With nearly perfect gameplay and entertaining stories, Full Body will prove to be the perfect blend. If you’re a new player or even just a fan of the original, Catherine has never been more worth picking up.