Catherine: Full Body review: Puzzle with a missing piece


Atlus aims for both sides of the aisle with Catherine: Full Body, fumbling with relationship norms poorly amid some solid puzzle-platforming gameplay.

Title: Catherine: Full Body
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Platform: PS4 (North America)
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Close to eight years after its initial release, Catherine: Full Body sees the return of Atlus’ tried and true method of telling tales of normal, everyday lives during the day and the supernatural at night. It’s a story of modern romance (or a lack thereof) counteracted by 3D puzzle-platforming action, with the fate of humanity lying in the hands of those who have been wandering aimlessly through life.

Vincent Brooks is a thirtysomething deadbeat boyfriend to Katherine; the love of his life that has been prolonging marriage talk for more than five years. However, a chance encounter with a mysterious new lover of a similar name has thrown him into a land of nightmares, as he is haunted by sheep as they ascend a tower of trials designed to test the worthiness of the climbers.

There’s nothing quite like Catherine: Full Body that exists out there, as the core gameplay loop is split between interacting with friends and acquaintances at the bar and solving puzzles in the nightmare. The Stray Sheep is where Vincent relays the events of each day with his childhood friends, with time progressing after each interaction.

Catherine Full Body questions

With 13 endings possible in this new expanded version, most major interactions and the choices made affect Vincent’s morality, tailoring your path through the game towards a future focused on Katherine, Catherine, and Rin in drastically different ways. Though their importance varies, each interaction springboards an opportunity for the player to present their character in their vision, from wildly selfish to surprisingly redemptive.

However, once you’re done drinking, playing minigames, changing tracks, talking to bar patrons, and answering texts from prospective love interests, players must face against a series of challenges called trials. There, Vincent needs to pull a set of 3D blocks to form a growing staircase leading to an escape at the top.

Physics don’t quite make sense in the nightmare, as blocks remain standing as long as one edge touches another. Under normal difficulty, this presents a variety of challenges, as you need to pull blocks over edges to form staircases while avoiding negative blocks such as ones with spikes or exploding bombs.

Catherine: Full Body rin powers

It’s a core gameplay cycle where you are the biggest obstacle and determinant in your path to victory, and the descending platform levels descending below drives the adrenaline-pumping action.

The puzzle elements are the real meat and potatoes of this game, as they ramp up in difficulty beautifully as the player progresses. How you challenge most routes is up to you, as pulling or pushing a block with a misplaced action (barring an undo usage) could fundamentally shake up the path in front of you.

It’s a core gameplay cycle where you are the biggest obstacle and determinant in your path to victory, and the descending platform levels descending below drives the adrenaline-pumping action.

Much like Atlus’ other core anime franchises, Catherine: Full Body oozes in style over substance. The iconography of religious overtones (men chasing towards a cathedral at the top of their trials) contrasts well with its laidback, jazzy soundtracks. Each character is a colorful representative of their personalities, with Katherine down to her stylish, fashion-forward, but conservative black sweater down to Catherine’s lingerie masquerading as a top.

Catherine: Full Body gives you every opportunity to be dismissive of Vincent and his primary friend group, which does make it hard for the player to redeem him. They are loyal to the soil and will help cover for Vincent’s debauchery just as much as they’re willing to fill his head with downright deplorable thoughts.

Atlus has typically looked at relationships through the eyes of teenagers with the Persona series, which can be a bit dicey depending on your preferences. Catherine: Full Body certainly takes liberties with an adult understanding of sexuality and sexual identity, as the depiction of sexual minorities ranges from frustrating to downright deplorable.

Catherine Full Body: Harem

The original game did a great job of toeing the line by highlighting the downsides of Vincent et al. ‘s misogynistic approach to life. It either allowed the player to play the role of the redeemer and bring justice to all or to wallow in awfulness and pay the price. However, with the new story beats presented, the amount of information provided to the play drastically changes the dynamic of the story.

…Atlus still has issues with representing people outside of the heteronormative sphere.

If you manage to discover the new content through gameplay, you get a complete picture with a roughly pleasant finish (as coarse as the edges are). However, should paths alter a different way, every person in Vincent’s core friends group approaches character-defining situations with unabashed bigotry, with reactions exposing latent phobias presented either as laughs or honest opinions with malice. The narrative counterbalances are not as prominent as the offenses made, either.

I’ve completed two complete playthroughs of Catherine: Full Body, and depending on your selections, the major characters vary wildly in their palatability. I feel compelled to split the middle for this review, as there are some genuinely significant character developments presented in this game at its best. However, it cannot be undersold; Atlus still has issues with representing people outside of the heteronormative sphere.

Catherine: Full Body alcohol facts

The Full Body approach thrives at its heights by following its namesake, as it offers a fuller body of work. You can play through the game’s puzzles in a “remix” fashion, providing brand new challenges for returning players. Additionally, there are more maps of varying difficulties in the hundreds through multiplayer modes like Babel, which are available upon first boot and now available online.

Competitive Catherine has become something of a cult fixture, and these challenge and multiplayer maps add dozens of hours to a solid story 12 hours in length. There’s plenty of puzzle-platforming greatness within, as the challenges switch things up, keep you on your toes and throw curveballs at every opportunity.

Whether fending off attacking enemies or building narrow perches with few building blocks, it’s frustrating that there are mitigating factors to my overall enjoyment of Catherine: Full Body. You get more of the good, the bad, and definitely heaps of ugly with the new content added to the game, as the compelling individualism of a narrative unseen elsewhere gets bogged down in Atlus being Atlus. It’s an amazing title with heavy baggage dragging down what is and what could have been.

7.5. <em>Catherine: Full Body</em>, like a full-bodied wine, is robust in content and tells a story rich in complexity. Unlike a fine wine, however, it can go sour quite quickly if poured incorrectly, as its more questionable notes can be a mitigating factor in fully appreciating its capabilities.. Atlus. . Catherine: Full Body

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.