07th Jul2020

‘Catherine: Full Body’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

Wow, where to begin with Catherine: Full Body? Originally released in Japan in February 2011 and the US in July of the same year, in the UK we had to wait some seven months after its US debut to enjoy the “epic-weirdness” that was Catherine. And now, years later, Nintendo’s flagship console gets its first taste of the weirdness with Catherine: Full Body – which includes the updted version of the original game, all existing add-on content from the original release of Catherine: Full Body on PS4 and Xbox One… PLUS three new voice options that reference the Persona series!

Let’s get this straight, for all intents and purposes, Catherine is a sim-style game, driven by the story of Vincent a thirty-something man who drifts between his job, his friends, his local pub, The Stray Sheep, and his girlfriend Katherine (notice the subtle spelling difference). However Vincent’s life is thrown into turmoil, first by his girlfriend turning serious and talking of marriage and children, then by the arrival of Catherine – a woman ten years his junior and the total opposite of Katherine, a woman with whom Vincent has an affair… To top it all off the papers and TV are covered in the startlingly news that local men are dying in their sleep. Could everything be connected somehow? Well this is a bizarre Japanese video game so of that fact have no doubt!

Of course having an affair doesn’t come without consequences and Vincent’s are a little unusual… He suffer from bizarre nightmares in which he must climb a seemingly unending tower of blocks, pushing and pulling them in order to climb to the top. Where he meets sheep men. Yes, sheep men. A strange hybrid of man and beast, these “sheep” are literally that, following Vincent up the tower and offering pertinent (and not so pertinent) advice on what you, as Vincent, must do to complete your tasks. It’s in these nightmares where the real gameplay of Catherine can be found, as you must solve the block-moving puzzles that befalls Vincent. Puzzles which I may add get increasingly difficult the further into Vincent’s nightmares you get – it soon becomes clear that Catherine is all about trial and error. You could say a nightmare for player and character alike (groan).

The first thing that strikes you about Catherine is the presentation, the game starts, and plays out, like a TV soap opera – that’s if the TV soap opera was set in the same universe as The Twilight Zone! There’s even a host: Trisha, the Midnight Venus, who introduces the “Golden Playhouse” and it’s story of Vincent and Katherine when you first boot up the game… Catherine: Full Body also introduces a new character to the original game, Qatherine (or Rin for short), an amnesiac pianist who lives next door to protagonist Vincent and, as if its possible, further complicates his relationships and love life! What you also notice about the game is that majority of the games actual story is played out in a high definition anime, which comes from the legendary Studio 4°C, that switches to computer generated imagery when you need to interact with the world further than a mere click of a button. The main thing that strikes you though? Catherine is just damn weird! If you’ve ever, like me, wanted to pick up and play some of the more “out-there” games released overseas, then this is for you – especially if the current crop of Far East games on the Switch, a lot of which seem – at least to me – to be visual novels or compleex RPGs, don’t appeal. Honestly, Catherine is damn weird that’s there NO way this won’t be interesting!

And whilst puzzle games tend not to afford much re-playability once the game is completed, Catherine is different. Developers Atlus have included multiple endings which are revealed depending on the way certain questions and text messages are answered throughout the game. Of course the completist in me (and I’m sure there are many more like me out there) wants to see all eight endings, and the only way to do that is to replay the game, changing your actions and answers as you go…

However what raises the game head and shoulders above others of its ilk, is that there are NO others of its ilk! Yes, for gamers that scream there’s no originality in video games any more, there is. It’s Catherine. Harkening back to the hard-as-nails, weird and wacky puzzle/platformers of the 80s and titles such as Head Over Heels and Impossible Mission, this is one of the most refreshing, yet frustrating, video game experiences I’ve had in years. A definite must-buy now Catherine: Full Body has come to the Nintendo Switch.

Catherine: Full Body is available on the Nintendo Switch from today.


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