Back in 2011 Atlus took a bit of a risk by creating a unique feeling game in the form of Catherine and although that risk paid off back then, fans have wondered if the game would ever return in some form. Then the company announced that they would be returning once again with a remastered remake of the original game titled Catherine: Full Body. Offering more puzzles to tackle and obstacles to get in your way, a new character with their own endings, and various other improvements, has this eight year old game managed to make a successful return?
Vincent Brooks has been stuck in something of a rut at 32 years old. He may have a longterm girlfriend named Katherine but lately their relationship has stagnated with both of them knowing that the relationship eventually needs to take a step forward, but change is the last thing on Vincent’s mind. Going through the motions at work and preferring to spend his free time drinking with his friends at their favorite bar, the Stray Sheep, Vincent doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry for things to change, at least that is until a young blond girl appears in his life one night following a horrific nightmare.
Quickly enamored by this sexy new girl, Vincent is happy to spend time with her before returning home only to find that not only do these nightmares persist, but that same girl, named Catherine, is also next to him in bed the next morning, seemingly after sleeping together. With Vincent having to now live through a nightmarish waking world where he must try to keep his two girlfriends from finding out that he is cheating on them as well as a nightmarish sleeping world where dying means death in reality, he is in for the worst week and a half in his life.
For the most part the story so far will sound familiar to those who played the original Catherine as there really hasn’t been too much changed in regards to the Catherine and Katherine aspects of the story outside of the addition of a new alternate ending for both characters. The real change comes in the form of Rin, a third romantic interest who is introduced shortly after the beginning of the game. Rin stumbles into Vincent who finds out that the mysterious Rin not only has a stalker but also suffers from severe amnesia with only the knowledge of her name and the feeling of wanting to play the piano left in their mind.
Rin is worked rather well into the first half of Catherine: Full Body‘s storyline as numerous scenes, both using the in-game engine as well as animated ones, have been modified to include Rin or created from scratch to help expand the story a bit more. Vincent and his friends will interact with Rin both at the Stray Sheep where she becomes a part-time pianist and makes frequent appearances in Vincent’s home life as well since Vincent helps Rin rent an apartment next door.
Rin makes for an interesting addition that helps expand the story a bit more and keeps things feeling fresh and unexpected, at least until the second half of the game starts. While playing the game players will need to make various choices and where most of these decision simply swing Vincent’s karma meter one way or another, which leads towards various endings with Catherine and Katherine there are also questions that must be answered in a certain way to properly trigger Rin’s route. If these decisions aren’t properly made then Rin barely appears throughout the rest of the game and is barely mentioned by everyone else in Vincent’s life. In fact even Vincent barely speaks to Rin despite how big of a role they can still play in puzzle stages.
Of course if the player does manage to unlock Rin’s route, then they will still be included frequently enough and, if pursued, with new exclusive endings and even additional story development, but it is disappointing to see that if not chosen the biggest new addition to the story becomes a non-factor at the midpoint of the game. That isn’t to say that the story as a whole is bad as it continues to excel at telling a unique love triangle now turned into a love square with flawed but unique characters that offers plenty of replayability as each of the three romantic interests have various endings that change depending on the player’s moral choices as well as some other factors.
Players will find that Catherine: Full Body has a number of different options available to newcomers and returning fans alike. There is the standard Classic mode that features the game’s signature block puzzles in a similar manner to they originally were while the Remix features special linked blocks that can come in various shapes and sizes. Both of these modes feature the same style of traps and hazards that will need to be avoided as well as items that can be used to help player’s get past a difficult section but in Remix mode players will find that these linked blocks may both be helpful and harmful depending on the techniques used to handle them.
These larger sections all move as one unit and can often clear a major pathway for Vincent to climb but one wrong move and an undo might be necessary to fix that mistake. Similarly speaking, players will continue to find that the game’s mechanic of needing to climb up a tower filled with movable and immovable blocks, some trapped in various ways, highly addictive and also a bit more refined as the ledge clinging mechanic now features highlighted areas that players can climb, a nice quality of life improvement compared to the original release. Along the way they will have a number of undo options that can help players avoid being caught and falling to their death but Vincent only has so many available on any given stage, though picking up pillows does replenish this undo count.
Similarly speaking there are also a number of signature boss battles at the end of every night that see Vincent having to flee from a horrific creature that has its own style of attacks that adds an additional threat to a stage. It is interesting to note that Rin also plays a role in the block climbing puzzles as her piano skills will eventually appear during Nightmares and can temporarily slow the advancement of a boss or falling of blocks if Vincent finds himself in danger, but be quick as this reprieve is only temporary.
Catherine: Full Body also offers a number of different ways to make the game more accessible should players want to simply experience the story. While the challenge is certainly there for players who want to play on normal or on increased difficulty levels there are now easier modes including a “safety” difficulty that allow for the player to simply skip puzzles entirely. Those who want to still play the game but at a more forgiving pace can choose to play on Easy where all hazards still exist but an autoplay feature can be used to skip challenging sections if necessary. This difficulty selection allows for players to feel like challenging themselves if they wish and aim for the highest possible score per Nightmare while also allowing for quicker replays should the player choose.
When not climbing block towers and avoiding horrific monsters at night Vincent will spend his days at the Stray Sheep bar. Here he can interact with other patrons at the bar, talk with his friends, play an in-game version of the block puzzles on an arcade machine, text and take calls from the girls in his life, and of course drink a bit. This system works almost exactly the same as the original game though players may find some new faces in the bar this time around. It is also interesting to note that players can rechallenge various Nightmare sections.
Outside of the core single player experience Atlus has also added a handful of new multiplayer modes to allow players to challenge their skills against friends and others online. The Colosseum works as the game’s local multiplayer to pit their skills against a friend on numerous tower types that can be incredibly difficult to tackle as well as the Online Arena that features multiple players climbing for their lives in what can be a fun and competitive mode that allows for casual matches that can be customized as well as more rigid ranked matches.
Visuals & Audio
For the most part Catherine: Full Body will look quite similar to how fans of the original remember though this is likely due to how well the anime art style ages through the years though they still appear a bit rough here and there. The character models are handled decently enough, especially the horrific monsters that appear at boss stages, while the stages that players climb through all feature a unique feeling background and air to them thanks to their well-thought out designs. As for the animated cut-scenes, the number of new additions is a nice touch that both expands the story a bit and breathes some extra life into previous scenes.
This release of Catherine: Full Body features both the English voice cast who have returned to reprise their roles as well as the Japanese voice track should players choose. The soundtrack features a number of classic pieces of music as well as some remixes from the original and fans of other Atlus properties will notice that the Stray Sheep’s jukebox now contains some Persona and other music as well.
It can be a bit difficult to nail down just what makes a game a remaster or a remake and Catherine: Full Body falls a bit in-between these lines as it continues to deliver a unique experience with a solid storyline, albeit one that some may have already seen most of. The graphics have been touched up a bit though not to a very noticeable degree but plenty of new content has been added in the form of more unique puzzles and challenges for Vincent and players to tackle. The story additions are also quite fun to enjoy a second time around, especially when it comes to seeing how Rin was implemented into the game, though it is a bit unfortunate how little Rin’s role can be in the latter half of the game depending on the choices made by the player.