They say that high school is supposed to be one of the best times of your life, and heaven knows there’s enough anime and JRPGs that push the point. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan – at the very least because as a grown-up I’m free to waste all my spare time and money on video games and nobody can say a thing about it. It’s pretty nice.
If you’d like to head back to high school, though, The Caligula Effect 2 is more than happy to accommodate…and when you’re ready to leave, well, it’s got something for that too.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: the world you live in is actually a lie! You’ve been stuck in a simulation this entire time! Yeah, we’re back in the Matrix yet again. This time you’re a student stuck in the world of Redo, which seems like a pretty ideal place to live and enjoy your high school life…but that falls apart when the AI χ appears and fills you in on the whole the-world-isn’t-real thing.
To get out, you’ll have to confront Regret, another AI whose mind-warping music both keeps people trapped in Redo and can turn them into hostile psychopaths to put dissidents back in line. With the help of χ, you and your friends can wield the Catharsis Effect, essentially weapons that allow you to fight back against Regret and her goons, the Obligato Musicians.
Oh, and tell me if you’ve heard THIS one before: this is, in large part, a life simulator combined with a dungeon crawler. You’ll lead the Go-Home Club, composed of students who are also interested in getting out of Redo, and you’ll get to know the various other members of the club over time. As in the previous game, everyone’s pretty interesting and worth learning more about, which also encourages switching up your party members in order to build a connection to each and view more of their plot.
Much like the previous Caligula Effect, this game runs on a turn-based combat system built around carefully timing your party members’ attacks to create combos. Early on, for instance, your main character and their crossbow-wielding pal can get a lot of mileage out of knocking enemies into the air and then filling them full of crossbow bolts. To help you time your attacks, you can use the “Imaginary Chain” system, which basically plays a preview of the next segment of combat while you adjust your timing manually.
Coming up with a properly-flowing combo that involves your various characters is incredibly satisfying, just as it was in the first game. There’s also a selection of healing, buffing and debuffing abilities to use as well as plenty of items. It’s a pretty full-fledged experience. On the other hand, all this queuing up attacks and such does tend to make fights take a while. You’ll need some patience.
From a presentation standpoint, Caligula Effect 2 takes the highlights of the original and runs with them. Character and monster designs will call to mind the modern Persona games, for instance, and there’s something to be said for the excellent combat animations. This game was built for modern platforms, meaning (at least on the PS4 or PS5) you won’t even encounter any of the nasty FPS issues the first Caligula Effect tended to have. The jump from the PS Vita original to this is very impressive.
Beyond graphics, though, you’re really here for the music, which might be some of the best in the genre. The way that combat music kicks in with vocals whenever you encounter enemies is great, and the tracks are…what do the kids call them today? Bangers? Yeah. They’re bangers.
The Caligula Effect 2 probably isn’t going to have much to say to players who aren’t into the whole anime thing. On the other hand, if that’s your style or you’re simply a fan of the original game, chances are you’re going to have a good time here. The strategic timing of combat combined with the modern-day Matrix style of story helps make this one of the more memorable JRPGs to come out lately.