Catherine is my favorite game. I loved it so much I bought the limited edition, and eventually got copies on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. When Atlus announced a remake with Catherine: Full Body, I fully expected them to just update the visuals and release, but while the core gameplay remains unchanged, this is a fully new release with a significantly updated story and a ton of new content.
Catherine: Full Body actually released a while ago in Japan. When my parents went to China earlier this year, I even had them buy me a copy so I could play it. Localization time was needed for the U.S. release though, because a significant new character was added. Catherine follows the story of a young man named Vincent. The entire thing takes place over the course of a nightmarish week when his longtime girlfriend Katherine talks about more commitment from him.
That conversation scared the hell out of him, and after a long night of drinking he wakes up in bed with a young blonde named Catherine. Enter Rin, a mysterious amnesiac who stumbles upon Vincent while on the run from something chasing her. Rin is Catherine: Full Body’s biggest new addition, as a third interest for Vincent. Vincent does the right thing for Rin, and helps her get back on her feet by finding her an apartment (right next to his), and a job. This intertwines Rin in Vincent’s daily life.
A lot of the story remains unchanged from the 2011 release, but the addition of Rin allows for some really great new interactions between characters. This is less about changing the story, and more about throwing a wrench in things. Catherine: Full Body is all about choices, and how they drastically affect the outcome of the story. After a certain turning point in the plot with Rin (which I won’t spoil for anyone), Rin disappears. She has a conversation with Vincent, explaining why she left, but I didn’t see her for the rest of my playthrough.
I’m assuming this leaves the door open for different story branches once I jump back in, which I’ve already done, but I haven’t gotten to that point in the story again yet. This makes Catherine: Full Body very replayable, and it isn’t just story replayability either. Atlus has added handful of reasons to jump back into Vincent’s nightmare.
The addition of a new Remix mode presents a new challenge for returning players. I’d recommend first-timers check out either safety mode or standard mode before setting off on Remix mode. Safety mode gives players the option to skip difficult puzzles to enjoy the story, because standard mode can be pretty tough. Even though I’ve played through Catherine a number of times, some puzzles are still pretty mind-bending.
Before we get into Remix mode, lets talk about gameplay. When I talk about Catherine: Full Body, which is pretty often considering how much I love it, I describe it as Q-Bert meets a dating sim. During puzzle stages Vincent must pull and push blocks in order to climb to the top of a tower. Different types of blocks like crumbling blocks, black hole blocks, or exploding blocks provide additional challenge and drastically affect the way players approach a wall.
In between puzzle stages players go through Vincent’s daytime routine (which always ends with him drinking). Text messages come through on his phone which he can reply to in order to alter a gauge that affects the outcome of the game. This is the order/freedom gauge, and depending on responses to other people’s questions or bar patrons can go up or down. Patrons of the bar often have real issues that Vincent can help with, but they aren’t relegated to staying in the bar, and appear between stages every night in Vincent’s nightmares.
Remix mode differs from the standard gameplay a bit, and really switched up how I approached puzzles. Instead of having individual blocks to move around, linked blocks provide extra challenge for Catherine veterans. It really changed the flow of puzzles, and forced me to slow down when figuring out my moves.
Catherine came out at a weird time. It wasn’t really marketed at any one genre in particular, yet it still became a cult classic by resonating with players due to the adult themes. To this day, there haven’t been many titles willing to tackle darker themes. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice springs to mind, but nothing like Catherine: Full Body. Instead of crafting a new iteration of the game, adding a new main character and new modes makes this version the best way to play Catherine. Japan even got a PSVita release of the title, which I would have loved to have here, but you get what you get.
My biggest complaint with Catherine: Full Body is that I was able to see an ending where an integral character didn’t matter. For the last two-and-half hours I didn’t see a new character that was one of the biggest draws of this re-release. I get it, it’s meant to encourage multiple playthroughs, but I would’ve loved to see some of the already existing endings reworked to incorporate Rin.
All of the original voice actors returned to rework their lines, which is great because the cast is stellar. Troy Baker plays Vincent, Laura Bailey plays Catherine, and newcomer Rin is voiced by Brianna Knickerbocker. The voice work in Catherine: Full Body is great, and the characters are great. If anything, since players spend so much time interacting with other characters, the cast is what gives Catherine life. The puzzles are challenging without feeling unfair, but I couldn’t wait to get back to the day segments to help bar patrons and interact with Vincent’s friends.
For fans of Atlus’s other titles, there are plenty of nods to titles like Persona, like a Morgana plush, and tons of songs from the Persona series that can be played on the jukebox. I have noticed though, that anything other than the song that usually plays during the bar scenes are too loud, but I’m not sure if that’s the design of the soundtrack, or just how the music that is supposed to be playing is leveled.
After finishing the game, players can go back and replay levels through Vincent’s cell phone during a new playthrough, or take on Babel towers. Babel towers are randomized challenges that up the difficulty immensely. There are a handful of characters players can take into the challenge, and these can even be done with two players. Apart from Babel, there is even a competitive multiplayer mode that can be done both locally and online. Rounding out an already great package of content.
Catherine: Full Body is a game that deserves to be played. By everyone. Sure, I’m a bit biased. I’ll always love this game, even if they keep upping the resolution and releasing it on new consoles, I’ll buy every iteration. Catherine doesn’t pull any punches, dealing with adult themes and wrapping it in puzzle based gameplay. This is a challenging game, with added difficulty through new modes, and an expanded selection of multiplayer options, Full Body is a well-rounded game, with lots to offer. I just wish I had seen more of the game’s new main character.