By William Haderlie / September 18th, 2019
Potential Spoilers Ahead: As you might have guessed from my neutral gender identifications with Rin thus far, gender is part of the spoiler territory for the character. Even knowing their full story I have not come down on what gender nomenclature to use for the character. Throughout the game everyone addresses Rin as a she and her. Later on Vincent finds out firsthand that Rin has the body of a boy. Rin doesn’t seem to mind being called a boy either, as long as Vincent accepts them for who they are. So it is difficult to call her a transgender female or any female pronouns when that is the stance of the character as written. Japanese developers have always had difficulty navigating this subject (not that they are alone in that respect), but this time there was at least the headway that, even after the gender issue is brought up, Vincent can still have a happy ending as the romantic partner of Rin. When you look at gaming history that is still some serious progress. Unfortunately for those two steps forward they end up taking one step back when in her True Ending it is revealed that Rin is an alien. That ending is funny, so it’s not entirely without merit, but it certainly undercuts any inclusive message you might have hoped for. The other characters also have outlandish endings rooted in Judeo-Christian and Mesopotamian mythology as well, so it’s not entirely out of left field. But there were certainly better ways to handle it, in my opinion. That being said, Rin remains my favorite new addition to Catherine: Full Body. Even if there are things I would have changed, particularly with the ending, I still think there is progress that has been made. And I think that Rin is entirely additive to the experience of the game, making it overall better than the original.
Now that the spoiler section is over, I can talk about the gameplay element that is entirely new with Catherine: Full Body. The focus of the game was never the puzzle element, but something strange happened after the game’s release. There formed a pretty ardent fan community around the puzzle mode, and even a competitive speedrunning community around it. Catherine puzzle runs have even appeared at Evo the last couple years, which is ostensibly a fighting game-focused tournament (although there have long been exceptions to that rule). In going back to add new story elements, the developer also spent some quality time improving the puzzles as well. There is still Classic mode to be enjoyed, and I would strongly suggest you start with that, but once you are used to the puzzles you also have Remix mode with totally different puzzle blocks. But the Remix mode does somewhat assume you have a good handle on the puzzle mechanics, in my experience, and I did find Remix to be significantly more challenging. Along with the story puzzle Remix, they added more variety to the bar arcade game and the Babel tower (which is just a pure puzzle dungeon without the main story). Combine those puzzle experiences with the Multiplayer VS mode in the Colosseum, and you could make the argument for purchasing the game just for the puzzle experience. It’s not my primary draw for Catherine: Full Body, but there is no doubt that it was improved across the board.
One last new addition to the Full Body edition is a much more comprehensive difficulty selection. On Easy you won’t ever permanently die in the dungeon, you basically have infinite Undo moves. But even beyond that is the Autoplay button (you see in the upper left corner of the above screen). If you really can’t figure out the puzzle or get stuck in a specific section you can click the Autoplay button and the computer will return Vincent to your last Checkpoint and just automatically move him through the puzzle. But, if you suddenly get an inspiration while the computer is moving him through, you can retake control. This is a very cool option that is entirely optional and has no negative effects on the story, so I’m a huge fan of that option. Additionally, if you are extremely allergic to the existence of the puzzles you can also just choose to do only the story and skip the puzzles entirely. I strongly dissuade that option since the puzzle does match fairly well with the story, especially in the later parts, but the option is still nice.
There are minor tweaks to the graphics, but you can still tell that this was a previous-generation game. But, it still looks great enough to not be a nuisance. All the old voice acting is still great and the new scenes are even better; Rin is definitely the highlight. So, Full Body is definitely the definitive edition of Catherine. Even if all the changes weren’t entirely additive, it would have been a shame if the original game was stuck on the previous generation. It was a really good game that got even better with the new edition, so I can’t recommend it enough. If you are at all interested, it is well worth the $60 asking price. It is true that a single playthrough of the story is only around 10 hours. But Catherine: Full Body is a game that is built with the express intent of playing it multiple times for the different story sequences, and also for endless replayability if you love the puzzles. It’s also a good reminder that some very interesting and daring games are hiding there, just outside of the limelight of the mainstream. It’s worth giving them a shot, not only to get a fresh experience, but also to support developers who take risks.
Review Copy Provided By The Publisher
Pages: 1 2AdventureAtlusCatherineCatherine: Full BodyPlayStation 4 proPSNpuzzleSega