I guess I should start this review with a confusion, I bought the original Catherine (regular, The Love is Dead edition that was exclusive to Amazon), however I never finished it. Where did I get stuck? The first confessional. When faced with a simple question that had binary options, I simple froze, turned the game off and filed it away to my backlog never to return again. With the announcement of Catherine: Full Body, it was perhaps time to face one of my greatest gaming failure.
Catherine: Full Body, puts you in control of Vincent Brooks. A seemingly mild mannered man who has been in a relationship with Katherine McBride, a woman who he?s known since high school, but reconnected with years later. Life is catching up with the two as friends and family inquire as to when the will settle down and raise a family together. Flustered with that line of thought, Vincent finds himself confiding with his friends at a local bar called the Stray Sheep. After one such night of drinking, Vincent finds himself in a nightmare where he ascend a crumbling tower or face death. A disembodied voice also queries him about various philosophical topics, before sending him to the next portion of the tower. Awakening from his nightmare, he finds himself in bed with a blonde woman who was not Katherine. Vincent?s life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.
The game?s core loop is essentially climbing a tower within Vincent?s nightmare to live another day, spend time at the stray sheep confiding with friends and strangers and then back into the nightmare world. Climbing the tower is literally a means to an end, as the crux of the story is decided by the answers the players provide in the confession booth that exists between the tower sections, as well as choices presented by conversing with the sheep (Other men who are having these nightmares). The towers are a challenge, you need all your wits to build pathways by pushing and pulling blocks to reach your goal. As you journey upwards, new blocks with different characteristics are introduced which will either assist or hinder your progress. In the original release all the blocks are just 1×1 squares, however in the remake a new mode is introduced that adds connected blocks in various configurations. To reiterate how the tower climbing portion feels like just a means to an end, the remake also provided a ?safety? mode which pretty much automatically ascends the second. While it?s not the best way to enjoy the game, I did utilize the mode and found that watching allowed me to grasp the climbing techniques a lot better, so it was an appreciated addition.
Despite what I stated, the tower climbing is extremely enjoyable and the developer did manage to add longevity to the once Vincent?s story has concluded. A puzzle mode which forces you to get to the top within a set amount of actions exists in the bar in the form of an arcade cabinet called Rapunzel. A randomized tower which will throw various gimmick blocks at you is what the Babel mode is. There is also local vs as well as online versus. One of the more surreal things that sprung out of the game release is the competitive Catherine scene and the online versus mode might help take that scene to the next level.
The time the Vincent spends in the Stray Sheep will allow him to speak with his friends about his dilemma as well as reveal the stories of the various patrons of the bar. These patrons have their own schedules and defining characteristics, and in fact eagle-eyed players will notice that some of the sheep that are encountered in the nightmare world have defining characteristics of some of the patrons. Talking to these patrons in the bar as well as the tower will flesh out their stories and occasionally will change Vincent?s tale as well. These side characters despite not being connected to Vincent?s bout with infedelity, well fleshed out enough that I wanted to make sure that they made it out of the nightmare just as I would and news of their demise (due to my inability to motivate them to continue living) did sting as I felt I had failed them.
One of the most visible changes to the Full Body release is the introduction of a third love interest in the form of Rin. A pixie-ish young women with a mysterious past, speculation regarding her true identity has led to a portion of the internet to show concern about her portrayal. I fully understand the concern that is presented, and can concede that her storyline takes some weird terms. However her inclusion adds a bit of levity to this otherwise serious tale. Her presence also changes the tower climbing portions of the game as she has the ability to slow rate which the tower crumbles beneath your feet.
Catherine: Full Body is a remake that adds an enormous amount of value and gives audiences who missed out another opportunity to enjoy this title. It?s accessible to all players regardless of skill level and has a story which is riveting and poignant. For players who have played the original release, now you have an opportunity to take a new branch as well as take on the world to show your climbing skills. One would say this title has definitely aged well and can be considered a fine vintage.
Note: Sega provided us with a Catherine: Full Body PS4 code for review purposes.