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Catherine Full Body – Review
Like a fine wine
Before Persona 5, the development team took a side tour and made Catherine, an adult tale of relationships and the horror of infidelity. That’s also a pretty darn good puzzler.
With Catherine Full Body, it serves as both a PS4 release of the game, plus newly added content in the style of Persona 4 Golden or the upcoming Persona 5 Royal. Not a straight port, not a straight remaster.
On its own, Catherine is still an evergreen experience, but the Full Body treatment also gives strong reasons for veterans to revisit it. Especially if you like puzzlers.
Catherine is stylised as heck. Game menus are flourished more than you’d expect, the character models looking crisp and the usage of 2D anime cutscenes by Studio 4°C makes really adds to the presentation. Catherine is not about realistic graphics. Though there are significant upgrades if you compare the original and Full Body side-by-side. The lighting is improved, for example.
The soundtrack is as expected, amazing. The default jazz tunes in the Stray Sheep bar is as comforting as it is melancholic. It’s a stark contrast to the bodacious, horrific mixes of familiar classical tunes that play during the nightmare segments.
You can play other songs from the bar’s jukebox, featuring various tracks from the game’s soundtrack and some selection from the Persona games. There are new songs too added for Full Body- the Persona 5 ones are the most fitting compared to the more chirpier tunes.
In Catherine Full Body, you play as 32-year-old Vincent Brooks, who can’t make up his mind if he wants to commit to marriage with his long-time girlfriend Katherine. One day, a mysterious girl name Catherine comes to the bar he frequents and they ended up in bed together.
And now he’s experiencing nightmares, where rumour has it, that it only affects cheating men and it could lead to death.
These nightmares are where the core gameplay of Catherine resides- the puzzles. It’s a block puzzle where the rules are rigidly followed rather than intuitive. It will take a few tries for you to really grasp how to move the blocks correctly to allow Vincent to climb upwards to the goal.
EDGE, EDGE, EDGE
What makes Catherine’s puzzle sections stick out is that you have to work under pressure. The lower levels will slowly collapse into the unknown and you have to keep climbing up. It makes for some tense mind-benders, though it can be frustrating if you can’t grasp the fundamental techniques.
I was stuck on the first level- the tutorial one- for about 30 minutes on normal difficulty before I can wrap around what Vincent can climb and cannot climb. From there, it was smooth sailing… until the gimmick blocks appeared.
That said, if you have no interest in the challenging but rewarding puzzles, there’s no harm with playing on the lower difficulty. Playing on the lowest Safety mode has tons of assists for you. This includes auto-complete where the game plays for you and an option to just skip the puzzles. It offers no effect on the story, so it’s totally fine if you have no interest in the puzzles.
Wine, Sake, Cocktail or Beer?
In the down times when he’s not trapped in a hellish nightmare where everyone is a sheep and a baby wants to kill him, Vincent spends his evening in the bar. You get to hang out with your buddies, or share stories with other patrons or reply text messages on your phone.
As you spend time talking, time progresses and different patrons will enter or leave the bar. Think of it as Persona’s leisure time and while there’s no specific Social Links system.
Interacting with the folks there, and your choice of Catherine, will affect your morality meter and the story outcome. It’s a story about adults being in love and dealing with relationships, with some risqué scenes peppered in.
Nothing too explicit though.
The main story should be around 10-12 hours, give or take, depending on how much time is spent on the puzzles. It has a good pace. But near the end of the story where when you thought the story is wrapping, but it kept dragging on with bigger and bigger stakes at play. Like those Persona games.
New to Catherine Full Body is the addition of another Catherine: Rin. Her inclusion is, for the most part, seamless. You won’t notice that she was never even appeared in the original game, though scenes and dialogue line that addresses Rin do stick out when they are front-loaded.
Rin also adds a new safety net to the nightmare puzzles. In some stages, she will help slow the rate of the collapsing blocks if you are too close to the edge.
There are 13 endings to discover- 5 of them are new and tied with Rin. Though if you want to see the new routes with Rin, go look up a spoiler-free guide. Unlike Catherine and Katherine, getting to her is less obvious. There are in-game vague hints, and the requirements are very specific.
If you’re an avid fan of Catherine’s puzzle sections, boy you’re in luck. In Catherine Full Body, you can play a remix of all the nightmare stages, featuring new blocks with unique properties. The in-game arcade Rapunzel, now dubbed Super Rapunzel, also has more new stages of block puzzles.
Other than that, there’s the Babel mode from the original game where it’s all about climbing to the top of a procedural-made tower of blocks the quickest. A test of pure block-pushing and pulling skills.
I didn’t play the original Catherine. I felt that the puzzles were daunting and I could just watch the story unfold on YouTube. So it took me by surprise how good the block-pushing puzzles are.
It did not immediately grab me though. The controls were a bit fiddly, I wished your character move one square at a time rather than strolling through each block. But that first 30 minutes of trial-and-error in the tutorial it finally clicked for me and it was great from there.
It’s definitely difficult, but it didn’t bother me. The story itself is full with some loaded questions someone in the late 20s will start pondering about. And for that, it’s great at presenting questions on how one should view love and relationships.
I don’t think Catherine Full Body adds that much to those who want to play it for the story, unless you haven’t done so before or just curious about how they handled Rin. Some of the cooler content that might sound desirable for another playthrough is reserved for DLC or the Special Edition. Such contents include a costume to play as Persona 5’s Joker, X-Ray glasses to see people in their swimsuits (even the men) and different voices for Catherine, which is a shame.
It’s a good thing I enjoyed the puzzles though. And for that, I can see myself to have the game still installed now that I’ve done with the story.
Like a fine wine, Catherine Full Body aged pretty well. The story of adult relationships is still relevant. The puzzle sections are as great as it was before with cool new additions to get veterans to dip again.
Catherine Full Body is an acquired taste, but it tastes even better now.
Review based on the PS4 version played on the normal PS4
Review copy provided by Epicsoft Asia, the distributor for Southeast Asia. Find out where you can grab a physical copy of Catherine Full Body in your region here