A tremendously great puzzle game with some questionable side content.
Catherine Full Body is a enhanced version of 2011’s Catherine, a social interaction and puzzler with elements of the horrific. It’s unique enough to have instantly captured my interest back in the day and still stands up now in 2019.
Developed by Atlus, you play as Vincent, a 30 year old IT professional who has been dating his girlfriend Katherine for many years. Katherine’s pressuring Vincent to propose, and he’s handling it like many would – by trying to run away from the issue. Along with his three best friends, Vincent is pretty much a nightly drinker. After his buds leave one night, Vincent hooks up with a young blonde named Catherine – with a ‘C, not a ‘K’ – and the story really begins. Full Body also adds another woman into the mix: Rin (Qatherine technically, in a ridiculously long stretch) who Atlus felt the needed to describe as an “innocent” girl.
Anyways, Vincent’s been unfaithful and that means — like the multitude of other men who’ve cheated on their partners — that he’s cursed. Each cursed man goes to sleep and finds himself in a nightmare in which he sees his fellow cheaters as sheep; they, in turn, see Vincent as a sheep as well, which is why he’s got horns in the nightmare world. The sheep are forced to climb towers of blocks in order to survive – the blocks crash to the ground, one level at a time. If you climb to the summit of the block tower, you survive and get to continue climbing the next night; if you fail, you fall to your death, in the dream and in real life.
The puzzle levels of Catherine were insanely hard in the original Japanese release, leading to the creation of an Easy mode for us in the West. This time around, puzzles can be skipped entirely (or simulated) through a feature called Safety Mode. While its puzzles are great, Safety Mode is a godsend as I very much enjoy sequences that take place in the evening, controlling a fully-awake Vincent at the Stray Sheep, his favourite late-night hangout.
There, you engage in discussions with not only your close friends but random customers as well. You can choose to talk with everyone, or no one. Whilst chatting, you can drink a beer, sake, a cocktail, or whisky – and each time you finish a glass, you get some trivia about the beverage itself. Drinking a ton speeds you up in the puzzle sections of the game (good), but also limits your time doing other activities in The Stray Sheep (bad). There are a lot of extra layers to the game that you can engage in if you so choose…and if not, the game’s cool with that too.
Day sequences are less fun, with cutscenes that generally run too long and feel a little off. A questionable transgender storyline largely remains intact, with two new cutscenes that both help and hinder the situation at the same time. Thankfully, another storyline with Rin serves as a decent attempt by Atlus to course correct on some fairly homophobic and transphobic content, though I’m left to wonder how many people will access that specific story stream.
Rin’s an interesting character, someone without a known past and who also serves to help Vincent out during his puzzle time. While I initially I found myself questioning why the character was included in the first place, I ended up supporting the move. Disregarding the (spoileriffic) storyline I’ve already referred to, Rin’s her inclusion helps to add to the amount of puzzles in the game if nothing else. For those digging that side of things, robust co-op offerings only sweeten the pot.
Like inclusion of Rin, Catherine itself is a tricky one; you’ll love it and hate it almost in the same thought. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing though — it’s an extremely unique experience that you owe it to yourself to at least try if you haven’t already. That said, consider that you can get the initial experience on a multitude of platforms for a fraction of the price.
Catherine: Full Body was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale. Our original Catherine review was also used for the purposes of this re-release.