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An Inventive and Truly Unique Ride, Catherine: Full Body Delivers a Game You Won't Forget
Everyone complains that there aren't any new ideas or originality has died so its interesting to me that one of the most original games on the market now is a remaster of a game released in 2012. Catherine is a puzzle/horror/romance game and while that sounds insane, it turns out to be a fantastic mix. I'll start with the puzzle aspect which finds the right combination of being challenging without being insufferable. The task is continually building a staircase while the tower crumbles and you're being chased by a monster that varies from level to level. They combine it with the horror elements and while it can be frustrating (like any puzzle game) its so rewarding when you conquer a stage. The blocks vary and they introduce new elements as you progress to keep things fresh. One of the additions to the gameplay is that there are features like autoplay to show the player the route or to skip a difficult section. You also get block formations that can only be moved in their entirety. It can be difficult to strike a balance between giving gamers something to chew on to people throwing their controllers and rage quitting. I think Full Body hits that sweet spot like my personal favourite Portal 2 did before it.
Other than switching up some elements in the puzzle solving gameplay, the biggest addition to this remaster is the new love interest Rin and some additional scenes with Katherine and Catherine. Starting with Rin, this game rights a wrong that was one of the few flaws of the original release. There's a lot more to Rin than meets the eye and not only is she a joyful and comforting presence in both this game and in Vincent's life, they go to some uncharted waters with how the character rounds out. To my surprise though, I thought it was done in a very sweet and respectful manner. After the reveal, the game got an emotional response out of me and I was impressed. They handle a difficult choice with so much tact and even if you're not on board, they switch it up and throw new elements into it in the end. I have to congratulate the developers and the writers for pulling this off in such a kind way, it also helps you forget about a certain character who was not shown the same kindness in the original release. The added scenes also add much more dimension to Katherine especially, she's very cold in the original release and these scenes help give her depth and help you see her side in a less icy perspective. She's all business and to the point in the present but her relationship with Vincent grew organically overtime and she's got a different side to her that could come back if given the opportunity. Excellent ideas and great execution all the way around with these additions.
Getting to our protagonist, Vincent is easy enough to identify with. He's not the everyman you want to root for but he's got a goofy charm and he's the type of guy who means well but always is putting his foot in his mouth or is too awkward to convey his feelings. He's well voiced by Troy Baker in the English version (actually the whole voice cast is very good) and other than him not being able to talk to Katherine for whatever stupid reason (just like any romantic comedy out there), he acts in a way you can understand. Considering what he's facing night after night, I felt sorry from him. But we not only watch Vincent's story, we get a voice in it because you help decide the ending in this game. You are asked questions throughout Vincent's trials and your answers to them determine who Vincent ends up with and which ending you get (there are multiple endings). I love games that give you a chance to choose where the story is going to go and this is another example of letting you into choose where Vincent's story goes.
I don't have many complaints to list off about this. The first thing I'll say is that this game won't be everyone's cup of tea. Its weird, it hops across genres without a care in the world and isn't afraid of alienating the player. So as much as I'm continually praising Catherine, check out the marketing material before buying it because its a cult classic as opposed to a huge hit for a reason. The next is that instead of toning it down, the game plays more into the sexual elements (in the intro especially) and it can be kind of awkward. I was playing this with a friend and after the opening titles he was looking at me all bug eyed and asking if it was going to get pornographic (it doesn't). This choice didn't wreck my enjoyment but it was an odd decision that could alienate some players. It also can be pretty difficult, depending on which difficulty setting you decide to play at. But I would argue that's any puzzle game.
This game is a hidden gem, it doesn't appeal to everyone across the board and the risqué content is going to have the opposite effect for some gamers. But I appreciate this game for not only being unique but being excellent at what it decides to do. It's fantastic and I recommend it highly. If you're interested, watch a playthrough online and if you're still intrigued, I think its even worth buying at full price.
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