By William Haderlie / September 18th, 2019
|Title||Catherine: Full Body|
|Release Date||September 3rd, 2019|
|Platform||PlayStation 4 Pro|
|Rating||ESRB – M for Mature|
ATLUS is most widely known for their Shin Megami Tensei (SMT) series of games, particularly in the West for its offshoot Persona franchise. That being said, for anyone who pays attention closely enough, the developer actually has quite a diverse portfolio of games. Even their internal studios are given a lot of leeway to make daring new projects, from the extremely old school design of Etrian Odyssey, to the very strange Virtual Boy exclusive, Jack Bros. Catherine definitely belongs to that daring project category, particularly in Japan where video games are usually targeted to a teenage demographic. Even when it was first announced, Catherine was made to speak to adults about adult problems. Of course, they can’t go so far as to make the game rated AO (and prevent it from being sold in stores or digitally), but they largely succeeded in that effort. With Full Body, Catherine gets a chance to reach a new crowd and to add some content to make the game even better overall.
Even when Catherine was first announced, there were rumors that this game was an experimental project that would test out their new Persona engine. And, now that Persona 5 has been released, you can see some of the hallmarks that bear out that theory. Even in the initial release there was a certain Persona flavor to the whole package, especially with the art design and music. But even though the themes were more focused on adults, there was also a heavy mythological component. With Catherine: Full Body, there is even more of a Persona element to it now that they were given the time and resources to add even more narrative elements to an already fairly story-rich game. While I did enjoy the original quite a bit, I probably would have scored it slightly lower than our original reviewer did. My three largest problems with it were that the story seemed too black and white, Katherine seemed to be rather unappealing even though she was ostensibly the “good choice” while Catherine wasn’t all that appealing as the “bad choice” either, and Vincent was difficult for me to relate with. With all the added content in Catherine: Full Body, they were able to address those first two issues very effectively, although the third one remains an unavoidable outcome of just two extremely dissimilar people.
Vincent, the protagonist, is one of two main characters who have changed the least in the Full Body remaster of the game. You get to see him when he was younger more this time around, but those scenes are primarily focused around another character. His interactions with Rin do round him out a bit more, but they only verify that he’s just a fairly nice guy that is a bit of a coward and generally afraid of change. Just like in the original, he is much better towards the end of the game, but he will always be a character that will strongly depend on your own personality as to your reactions to him. That can be seen as a sign of strength though, because they made some strong decisions with him instead of being a very milquetoast character meant to appeal to as wide of a demographic as possible. Many games, particularly with a high budget, are guilty of that latter point. Both in the original and in Full Body, the more you interact with optional conversations, the more you are likely to enjoy Vincent, because some of the best dialogue scenes are not required.
The other main character that hasn’t really changed much in Catherine: Full Body is the titular character of Catherine. That is rather unfortunate because they could have used this chance to do something a lot more with her than they did in the original. She is still cute and she still has great voice work by the wonderful Laura Bailey, but that is about all she has going for her. Perhaps to someone looking for responsibility-free dating she might be more appealing, but that just doesn’t do anything for me. As an agent of temptation she works fairly well, but as a well rounded character, not so much. Where they did do a lot better was with your girlfriend, Katherine. She also wasn’t too appealing for me in the original game because she just seemed to be always too serious and you had a hard time seeing what Vincent ever saw in her. But they did give her a lot more backstory and a little bit extra in the present as well to round out her character more. Now it’s more obvious why she is ostensibly the “good choice”, even though you could also argue that there is not cut-and-dry morality judgement in the game, particularly now in the Full Body remaster with the addition of Rin.
While it may seem obvious that the most significant change is a 3rd romantic option for Vincent, there is more to the addition of Rin than just that. First I’ll go into a general overview of their character in Catherine: Full Body, but in the next paragraph I’m going to have to go into spoilers. So, if you want to avoid any spoiler information, feel free to skip that part. I just need to discuss it in a review because it affects my review score and also because it could either cause someone to purchase or not purchase the game due to the presence of Rin alone. First I must say that Rin was integrated into the game quite a bit more than I was expecting. Not only is the very first cutscene in the game about how Vincent met them, but Rin also plays into the mechanics of the puzzle dungeons much more than the other two romantic interests. That already makes them more appealing than the other two, in my opinion. Rin plays the piano both in the real world and in your dream world. So, in the real world there is an enjoyment factor of having them in the bar all the time, but in the dream world the piano playing can save you from the rampaging boss monster levels by calming the creature for a short time. Rin is a neutral romantic choice, so they do address an issue in the first game where you had to go all in one way or the other to reach the true endings of either Katherine or Catherine. But, if anything, Rin seems to be a much more kind and “good” person than Katherine is, so it also throws a bit of a wrench in the idea of the meter being expressly a morality judgement.
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