Game Reviews

Catherine Full Body Review

This nightmare has new outcomes.

by William Schwartz

When Catherine released back in 2011 it was a polarizing game.  After all, it is essentially a puzzle game with a single player narrative layered over the top of it that masquerades as an RPG.  It dealt in a subject that many don’t touch in terms of its focus on relationships and fidelity.  Catherine: Full Body is a remaster, the type of which we’ve seen quite often in the last half-decade or so.  While it is more than just a better looking game, Catherine: Full Body justifies its existence by adding in new story elements and puzzle types.  It is still very much the same game that it was all those years ago.

In Catherine you assume the role of a 32-year old programmer named Vincent.  Vincent is in a committed relationship with his girlfriend Katherine, and his life takes a wild turn when he stays out too late one night and wakes up with another woman — Catherine.  Vincent’s memory is hazy.  He doesn’t know whether he cheated on his girlfriend and as the game goes on the protagonist juggles these relationships with a new one thrown into the mix with the introduction of Rin.  Turning the original love triangle from the 2011 release into something a little bigger with a third potential love interest is the big narrative twist in Full Body.  Rin is incorporated into Full Body pretty seamlessly and she’s not quite what you expect.  If you’ve never played the original it would be hard to spot this character as something that was added for the re-release, at least in the early parts of the game.  She ultimately does change Catherine and the optics of the game significantly towards the tail-end, however.

catherine-full-body-rin

Catherine: Full Body is part life simulator where you play as Vincent and interact with the people in your life through in-person conversations and messaging on your phone.  You’ll shape the story by answering to those in your life in certain ways.  You’ll learn about your friends, the patrons of the Stray Sheep bar.  You’ll drink too much and make good/bad decisions.  This part of the game has always been the most appealing aspect of it.  The interesting tertiary characters and getting to see Vincent’s dilemma unfold while having some player agency are still the best parts of this game.   Wrapped in an appealing visual style inspired by anime, the game transitions back and forth between animated cutscenes and in-game sequences.  Almost everything on the presentation front still hits the right notes with Catherine: Full Body from visuals to sound and voice acting.

The bigger part of Catherine: Full Body are the puzzle sequences that lie between the story bits.  Catherine is a block puzzle game.  Players will control Vincent as he tries to make his way to an exit while he works his way up a tower by pulling and pushing block pieces.  This is the least interesting aspect of the game.  While it all makes sense, Vincent’s philandering have made him feel guilty, which is being addressed during his sleeping hours in these nightmarish puzzle towers where he confronts his fears in the form of giant aberrations.  The puzzles themselves are block-based, which require that you manipulate boxes by pushing and pulling them, ascending to the top of the puzzle and reaching your escape.  You’ll connect block ledges which you can climb on to traverse towards the exit while pieces fall out below you.  They start off quite simple and the difficulty ratchets up as the game progresses with the inclusion of enemies and bosses which can kill you if you’re not careful.  With Full Body, the puzzle systems have been expanded and tweaked.

catherine-full-body-nightmare

The standard normal difficulty playthrough of Catherine felt a little bit easier than the original game with the introduction of a rewind system that allows you to cheat death.  While the harder difficulty felt like it lived up to its name.  In the Full Body remaster there’s also been a new mode added called Remix which offers new block types for those that ultimately enjoy this aspect of the game.  None of the additions to the puzzles of Catherine will make this any more digestible for those that didn’t like this aspect the first time around.  There are some other additions for those that do though.  There has been some online functionality added that allows you to see how other players perished on a given nightmare puzzle.  Puzzles themselves can also be accessed in separate modes.  Babel, Colosseum, and Online Arena allowing you to tackle randomly generated puzzles by yourself, in co-op, or competitively against other players.

Completing these puzzles in a timely fashion get you back to the good stuff, and that’s making choices in the way that you’ll interact with in your relationships.  There’s just not much to say about the puzzles in Catherine: Full Body.  I didn’t like them in the original game and my opinion or taste for them hasn’t changed.  While they can certainly offer challenge and there’s numerous difficulties to tackle, they always feel like a slog.    Catherine featured multiple outcomes when it released in 2011.  This gave the game a good bit of replay value, and with the addition of the new character, Rin, this expands.    There are a total of 13 different possible endings that you can pursue in the game, which is a pretty significant jump from the original release.

catherine-full-body-cutscene

Catherine: Full Body is a remaster which the inclusions don’t really change the game all that much.  It’s a bigger, slightly prettier version of what was released in 2011.  For those looking for the new parts of the game, there’s definitely something to sink your teeth into with multiple story outcomes for the new character.  For Catherine purists looking for that 2011 experience, that is totally possible too (at least on the story front).    Your enjoyment of the game will likely come down to how much or how little you enjoy the block puzzles because that is still the lion’s share of the content in this game.

The Verdict

Catherine: Full Body didn’t really change my opinion on Catherine all that much.  I’m still as conflicted as I was in 2011 with a love for the art style and weirdness of the game.  The uninspired puzzles that make up the rest of it wear out their welcome too quickly though.

"meh"
meh

Catherine: Full Body

  • Available On: PlayStation 4
  • Published By: Atlus
  • Developed By: Atlus
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • US Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
  • Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
  • Quote: "Catherine: Full Body didn't really change my opinion on Catherine all that much.  I'm still as conflicted as I was in 2011 with a love for the art style and weirdness of the game.  The uninspired puzzles that make up the rest of it wear out their welcome too quickly though."
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