Flawed and fleeting like a fever dream, Catherine: Full Body still delivers an enriching, astounding and delectable experience even after 8 years.
In 2011, we’ve seen Atlus’ Persona studio bring to life an oddly compelling dating sim slash puzzler game to life. Intriguing as it is challenging, Catherine: Full Body reminds you of the Persona franchise. But with an adult-focused storyline twist best served nocturnal gamers because it will definitely keep you up all night!
Catherine: Full Body is the expanded remake of the classic Catherine. The puzzle-platform game was created to cater to an adult audience, hence the adult-centered storyline. If follows the story of Vincent Brooks, a 32-year old software encoder who gets caught up with his tangled feelings for 3 different girls. He’s in a long-term relationship with Katherine McBride, a 32-year old office manager at a clothing company. But finds himself getting involved with 22-year old Catherine whom he sleeps with during one drunken night and the new addition Rin (short for Qatherine), an amnesiac whom he saves from a stalker.
As a regular in The Stray Sheep bar, that’s where all the magic happens. Vincent’s interactions with his co-workers and friends, encounters with the Catherines and how everything falls into place.
The story of the game gets darker than it is from the blindside. Since it’s catered to adult audiences, the hints of adult themes like, alcohol, sex and adultery are prevalent. But one of the takeaways of the game is how real it can get. Unlike your typical otome or dating sims, Full Body has a more mature take on romance. It goes beyond the typical highschool or college romance. It shows what simple yet complex relationships can be for adults.
Rin’s (Qatherine) addition to Vincent’s choices broadens the story itself. And at the same time, it adds dimension to Vincent himself. Especially when you’re beginning to question your own morale because of sleeping around while in a serious long-term relationship. I mean, Katherine is sensible, Catherine is sulty and Rin is delicate. Those dynamic personalities only hooks you up to dangerous outcomes and of course, compelling routes along the way.
As a Sokoban puzzle game, you’d have to outwit Vincent’s nightmares to be able to come back to the real world. That’s one of the most challenging features in the game. Aside from the choices you have to make, involving the girls and who to pursue. Each night, Vincent turns into a sheep-man and you’ll be forced climb a tower in order to survive the night. But climbing the tower isn’t easy as it sounds. In order to successfully climb the tower, you’d have to push and pull individual blocks to make bridges, paths and stairways. At the same time, you’d have to avoid various traps laid down along the way.
It might sound straightforward but the towers becomes complex and dangerous after each level. The learning curve of the game is quite steep. And it takes time to get used to it. It’s harder than imagined considering the level of difficulties you can choose. But finishing each puzzle has this satisfying sense of accomplishment you can’t quite put a finger on it. And have I mentioned that there are game bosses that will terrorize you?
Aside from the main platform-puzzles, the story mode also offers “Remix”, a game mode that features new block types and stage layouts. And of course, “Rapunzel”, the in-game retro-style arcade game with lower stakes than of the nightmares.
All in all, Catherine: Full Body is a bizarre yet compelling experience, even as a classic. Either your new to the game or not. It has a few misses, when it comes to a few route endings. But the platform-puzzler brings a breath of fresh air among puzzle lovers. And at the same time, the story keeps you intrigued with how you will navigate as a 30-ish old man on the edge of his existential crisis. Despite being a remake, it seems like a whole new experience fresh from the memory box.