Catherine: Full Body

After Casper was kind enough to give a nostalgic RPG of mine a go, he decided to challenge me in reviewing a puzzle platformer that I have not touched in years. Dealing with questions about love and having your brain tested, Catherine is definitely one of the most unique titles coming from the team behind the Persona series! Honestly, I was recommended to go with the original due to its focus on duality, but seeing as Full Body is labelled as the definitive edition, it was hard to ignore it. Besides, Rin is cute!

Love triangle

In a modern suburban city, the protagonist Vincent is struggling with his relationship with Katherine. While they have been going out steadily for quite some time, she seems to be ready to settle down with traditional marriage and kids. Unfortunately, your avatar is happy where he currently is in life and does not wish for such commitments, making him seek support from his friends and tons of booze. The next morning though, he wakes up with a young girl named Catherine in his bed.

What follows are mainly days with Vincent contemplating on what to do, trying to talk to his love interests, and seeking advice from his buddies. All of this is done in a believable manner where he struggles to come clean and generally feels awful for what he might have done. Despite that the tense moments of being caught add to the story, the smaller ones are really what makes this tale engaging. Hearing one of your old mates having had issues until he got divorced or chatting with the bartender for some words of wisdom, creates a memorable cast and forces you to think about your choices.

Speaking of, you will occasionally be getting texts and calls you can reply to, which provides more stakes to the dilemma you are in. Although the responses give Vincent a distinct personality as a depressed man caught in between two worlds, they still offer enough room to let you pick reactions that will suit both you and him. Regrettably, both Katherine and Catherine are relegated to one core ideal each and thus are not as diverse as they could be. 

Certainly, they are meant to represent freedom versus order and I do like how neither tries to make themselves better or worse; just two paths to take. The problem comes from how black and white this setup becomes, with neither being fleshed out people compared to the rest of the NPCs. Because of this, it is hard to get a solid connection with them, despite not wishing either harm. While the multiple endings are amusing, they also relegate to how much you agreed with one of the viewpoints by being obviously positive and negative ones.

It is here where Full Body introduces Qatherine, which even the game acknowledges is silly and clunkily implemented in the story early on. Yet providing a third option in the middle of the two other female leads is refreshing and makes the numerous conclusions more captivating and unique. Besides, she is the one I can have the deepest conversations with, making me wonder if the other #atherines should have been reworked to be more interesting through additional interactions.

What elevates this tale even further is how it is presented. As a TV special with a charming narrator, it acquires a nostalgic feel to it that is endearing with every scene having a clear tone in the visuals and audio to emphasize a mood subtly, such as distress, desires, and dignity. With a great script that makes each character memorable, whether it be your diverse buds with clear backstories or odd ones like the grandma twins telling bizarre lore, all have something to offer yet feel like real people.

The only aspect left to talk about is the supernatural. You see, whenever Vincent goes to sleep, he has nightmares of a strange place where he must keep climbing otherwise he will fall to his doom. This is something that seems to relate to numerous deaths around your town, with fellow sheep to meet in these dreams trying to survive another night alongside him. While these include some blatant symbolisms of his struggles in the form of a boss bride as an example, the cast here is just as engaging as the ones in the city due to how they variedly tackle sufferings and even evolve depending on your actions. 

All of these qualities make for immersive storytelling. While the plot is solid, it is mainly the colourful inhabitants that kept me invested and the small events which pushes me to think about what I should do onwards. It is hard to argue against the uneven female leads and I do wish Rin was better implemented. However, with choices having clear consequences and each day bringing more tension to the disastrous predicament you are in, Catherine is a wonderful drama that has only a touch of anime cliches.

Story Score: 8/10

Stairway to decisions

Upon starting this surreal adventure, you will be tackling two genres depending on the time of day; puzzle platformer and dating sim. Focusing on the former first, each night you will be presented with 3D stages consisting of blocks everywhere. Because of this, you will be restricted to a tile-based movement, where you can jump up one cube, push and pull if you have the space for it, and hang from ledges if the fall is greater than a single square.

Despite the simple premise, Catherine expects you to keep in mind every minor detail and strategy you learn as it comes with a difficulty curve that while solid, gets demandingly challenging. Not only will you have to create stairs in various manners, but even shimming around and considering that blocks can stand on edges will be important, especially since the floors below you will collapse and fade. In other words; you will have to think fast.

Luckily, there is a significant amount of variety to make sure these brainteasers have strong spices to them, like the different cubes. Some can have trampolines, others are traps, and there are even those that crumble, all adding to the pressure of figuring out your next step. Furthermore, there are occasionally other sheep that will try to attack you, forcing you to hold on to a ledge and push them away or lure them into their demise. Although there is a lot to take in, you can also acquire power-ups that can aid in your ascent, such as a jump potion and a book for summoning lightning to strike nearby opponents to name a few.

None of these make the adventure easy, but rather provide a slight breather in the heat of the moment. Since you can also only hold one knickknack at a time, you must make hard choices on what you can benefit most from in your situations. Another element that makes the journey more tolerable, is the number of undos you have depending on how quickly you climbed upwards for combos. These are severely helpful, and while checkpoints alleviate some frustrations, certain stages can be long and punishing. However, these will impact your score which in turn also affects the trophy you get, so keep that in mind if you are a perfectionist.

What I truly love about this game is that it is willing to teach you clever moves or details, such as how to use falling blocks to make staircases or ways to move on ice without slipping off the edge! Sadly, I did find the controls for movement incredibly sensitive, where I would often end up leaping over the edge to hang instead of turning to face somewhere before pulling a cube, even when using the D-pad for this tile-based structure. This becomes aggravating when you basically have a timer before you bite the dust and there is not much room for mistakes. 

Yet it was never enough to make me stop playing thanks to the other mentioned qualities and the map showcasing how far I had already come. It is strange that not much else was fixed despite this being a rerelease with added content, but the rest of the package is so fantastic that I was still enthralled by each brainteaser. Though the highlight has to be the bizarre bosses, such as the fire-breathing anus or the screaming baby, all adding more tension to the climbs due to further obstacles to avoid.

Once you have cleared a stage, you will be able to chat with other sheep to gain more strategic moves or select a response that will affect whether they continue their ascent or falter, providing a nice break from the main event. The only aspect I did not like here was the merchant. He will sell items for coins that you can gather within the levels, but this is an unnecessary crutch since you already get enough support as it is. Seeing as you will also encounter less gold if you do purchase anything and have four difficulty modes for finding your comfort zone, I completely ignored him and wondered why he was even here.

Finally, before entering the next puzzle or waking up, you will be offered a question affecting further outcomes and the upcoming conclusion. These can be quite harsh choices, to the point that the game even asks you to pick the one you agree the most with, which is a pressure I do admire. Examples of these ponders can be whether you would rather order familiar or new food and if you could accept your spouse regardless of their past.

Despite that some can be obvious good versus bad, thanks to the multiple endings and three love interests, you are encouraged to play the way you want to. Even if the scale helps indicate which ideals you are leaning towards and you will see what other players answered, these become fun tidbits instead of something to rely on for the best result. Though this is not all. After a nightmare of squares is over, you will be given a story sequence and eventually be placed in the pub called Stray Sheep. Here, you can chat with friends, locals, and the bartender for either some fascinating lore or to think about your decisions. 

All discussions paint a bigger picture of the situation you are in and whenever you are asked to reply, your choices will also affect the balance of freedom and order. Furthermore, you might get calls or messages from your possible partners, occasionally forcing you to figure out what to say or even ignore them, which affects the ending you will get. Everything to do in this bar is engrossing for their simple activities, with even having drinks affecting the speed of the upcoming nightmare. Should these not be to your liking, they are easy to dismiss in order to take on the next puzzle.

Throughout the 10-12 hours it takes to get through the campaign depending on your skills, Catherine offers a magnificent mix of dating sim and brainteasers, both being straightforward in concepts yet deep in executions. While there are minor flaws that I believe should have been ironed out in this definitive version, this is still a phenomenal journey that will both break you emotionally and logically in the best ways possible. 

Gameplay Score: 8/10 

Beautiful seduction

I adore the look of this title. With its cell-shaded visuals used to make anime come to life in 3D, all characters have memorable models and clear facial expressions. Be it Vincent with his gaping mouth of confusion and casual clothing or his bud Tobias’s workwear and laidback attitude, all gain clear personalities through their attires and motions. Whether they be presented in-game or in the 2D animated cutscenes, all are gorgeous to look at.

Further enhancing the graphics are the places you will be visiting, with the pub Stray Sheep being my personal favourite due to the tons of subtle observable elements, such as how red is used in various manners to depict your troubled love life. In fact, the myriads and combinations of colours are stunning. Not just due to their thematics, but also in their general designs like the creative drinks on the tables. With this in mind, the nightmares do struggle to capture similar magic.

Despite the backgrounds changing in setups like torture chambers, clocktowers, and more, the blocks themselves are just that with minor decorations. This does make these dreamworlds underwhelming, even with their neat sceneries. Luckily, the bosses help and can be terrifying, with a depiction of your unborn child being especially unsettling and grotesque. However, this is probably the weakest part of the journey in terms of visuals.

Though the audio is absolutely superb. Every voice actor is fantastic at giving stellar performances with perfect directions and tone, making it easy to relate to the characters’ personalities and emotions. This even includes minor NPCs, causing every interaction to feel meaningful. Although the music is even more spectacular. Consisting mainly of original jazz and classic symphony, this is a wonderful compilation where each track comes with diverse and highlighted notes as well as excellent rhythms. 

Yet, the best part is not how varied they are in emphasising moods like tension or happiness, but they are specifically used as a duality by having these two genres alternate between sleeping and awaken state. This enriches the artistic atmosphere that I cannot get enough of. Although, I will admit that I do enjoy the opportunity to put on some Persona or Shin Megami Tensei melodies from the jukebox whenever I want to. 

Presentation Score: 9/10

My brain is broken

With four difficulties to choose from, you will easily find a challenge suitable for you. Even if you are a returning player from the original Catherine, you will have the option to take on remix mode with altered blocks that are made of multiple ones, such as rectangles of three or T-shaped ones. It is an incredible extra that offers new strategies to attempt, with even another side activity getting a similar treatment.

At your local bar, you can play the arcade game Rapunzel where you have no time limit but a fixed amount of moves and a finite amount of credits. This is a nice alteration of the campaign’s formula and even comes with an arranged version that introduces new cubes to work with. It is quite a hard journey with multiple puzzles, but a rewarding one nonetheless. However, this is far from it when it comes to additional content.

Babel is probably the toughest one, with four stages where you have limited items, randomised layouts, and no option to undo. These fierce tasks can be done in both co-op and solo, which is a great feature. Should you desire more multiplayer modes, there is the colosseum and online arena where you can battle against other players off- and online to ascend to the top. These can be fairly stressful with the ability to knock each other down, though these are rather a small extra than something to regularly come back to due to only being one vs one.

Probably the most challenging thing to accomplish is to get high scores and gold trophies for the levels, especially with the slightly off controls and the length of these towers. Not to mention, having none of the awards stack to lower difficulties makes completing this game a nightmare. Although if you are tired of seeing blocks, you will have the option to skip these upon repeated playthroughs to enjoy the conversations and answer questions for gaining one of the multiple endings in the campaign. Each is a treat to witness, with some racing questions about this world’s lore. Overall, there are a lot of reasons to revisit, just be mindful of shattered thumbs.

Extra Score: 9/10


Catherine is a unique experience that mashes two genres into a beautiful package. The sim aspect conveys a tense story with a memorable cast and choices that have weight to them, with the engrossingly hard puzzles making you sweat with every step you take. Alongside its gorgeous presentation and tons of replay value to sink your teeth in, it is hard to not recommend it to anyone looking for something special. I cannot deny that some elements should have been polished and while Rin is a lovely addition, she could have been implemented better. Nonetheless, this is a great title that will make you both think and feel.


Published by Slionr

A guy who likes to talk about video games and loves tabletop gaming. You can always follow me on twitter: @GSlionr

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