For all the complaints about how video games are dumb, violent entertainment, there’s a surprising amount of interesting plotlines and concepts floating around out there if you’re willing to take a chance. It’s not all brown, gray and shooting. You’ve got crazy ideas like an evolution simulator in Birthdays: The Beginning; Presidential mech action in Metal Wolf Chaos XD; and, with Catherine: Full Body, a puzzle game about relationship trouble and the associated personal trauma. Yeah. Definitely not just brown, gray and shooting. Not even close.
When Vincent wakes up next to a mysterious blonde woman named Catherine, he’s a little shaken for several reasons. First, he doesn’t remember meeting her. Second, he doesn’t remember the act that led him to sleeping with her. Third, he’s already got a girlfriend, Katherine, and he didn’t really think he was the cheating type. We follow Vincent’s life as he spends his waking hours at the Stray Sheep bar, interacting with his friends and both Catherine and Katherine. You get to decide how Vincent handles the situation, eventually leading up to one of several endings, and let me assure you that this story doesn’t go the way you’d expect. In fact, it gets even weirder in the Full Body expansion, which adds a new love interest named Rin who works at the Stray Sheep.
When you aren’t working through the plot, you’re climbing towers and pushing blocks. Catherine’s a puzzle game at heart, after all. Vincent spends his dreams fleeing from horrific nightmare creatures set on making him pay for his infidelity; if he dies in his dreams, it carries over to real life. The only way to go is up in these situations, so you’ll need to go as quickly as possible in order to avoid getting wrecked. Something must be said for the monster designs, by the way, which are singularly disturbing and help make Catherine a pretty memorable title.
Gimmicks come up as you progress and the overall game becomes more difficult, but at its heart this is a straightforward puzzle game through and through. Note also that you choose a difficulty when you start this game and it’s absolutely not playing around – higher difficulty levels will absolutely crush you, even if it’s easier and more convenient to undo your mistakes. Be prepared. Full Body introduces Remix Mode, which produces even more complex and difficult puzzles for the discerning block-manipulator, and as before multiplayer mode is present and accounted for.
Aside from this, as you proceed, you’ll be given surveys related to relationships and fidelity, which make for an interesting and introspective exercise. it’s especially interesting to see how others voted, providing an aggregate take on how people view these topics.
Full Body runs nicely on PS4, though the original and Catherine Classic alike didn’t have any issues either so that’s not much of a change. The best part of the presentation here lies in the fantastic character and setting designs. Catherine does its best to be memorable and disturbing while not necessarily distracting you from the brutality of its puzzles and it succeeds on all fronts. Chances are you’ve seldom played a game that looks quite like this – though your mileage will vary.
Those who’ve yet to play Catherine or Catherine Classic before are sure to get a kick out of what’s in store for them in Catherine: Full Body, and not just for the game’s unique…presentation. At its core it’s still a punishing puzzle game wrapped in one of the more bizarre and unique narratives you’ll find in the medium. If you’re patient and willing to stick with some of its more difficult moments to continue that crazy storyline, then Catherine Full Body is bound to present hours of block-pushing frustration.