Love and cheating bring new complications.
Catherine: Full Body is much more than just a remaster of 2011’s puzzle adventure with some tweaks and additional scenario pieces here and there. With the addition of a third heroine character, producer Katsura Hashino and his team at Studio Zero did not just add her part, but fleshed out the original story to make her fit in more naturally. That means that fans of the original have a lot of new content to look forward to. “The new edition has 1.5 the content of the original game,” Hashino tells me.
Protagonist Vincent is a 32-year-old systems engineer salaryman, and is facing what is best described as a midlife crisis. His girlfriend Katherine’s period is late, and she wants Vincent to be more serious about their relationship. Vincent himself is not exactly a family man, and he is not sure how to cope with his girlfriend’s news. After work, he goes drinking at Stray Sheep, his favorite bar, and the next morning he wakes up with a gorgeous blonde bombshell beside him by the name of Catherine. She becomes Vincent’s secret lover, but Catherine doesn’t know that Vincent already has a steady girlfriend. That means that he not only has to keep Catherine a secret to Katherine, but also the other way around. Eventually, Vincent (and therefore the player) has to choose which of the two is his true love.[
The game is a combination of adventure and puzzle gameplay. At the Stray Sheep bar, Vincent can order different drinks and talk with his friends as well as other customers, and in between he exchanges texts with both girls. But once Vincent leaves the bar and goes home to sleep, his nightmares play out as challenging puzzles in which he must climb giant walls of blocks. You pull out and push blocks to lay out a path for Vincent to climb to the top and escape from his horrific nightmares and monstrous enemies based on his real-life anxieties, such as a giant screaming baby.
Full Body is still very much the same at its core, but it adds a third love interest for Vincent. Her name is Qatherine, referred to simply as Rin. That makes three Catherines, but Rin is a little different. While the original two heroines are rather assertive, Hashino refers to Rin’s character as “more modest and sweet” and tells me that “she listens to Vincent’s problems and supports him.” This comes in rather handy for Vincent, as he doesn’t seem the type who could keep a four-way love square secret.
Rin works as a pianist at Stray Sheep bar, and according to Hashino it was actually Vincent who introduced her to this job and found an apartment for her next to his own. “She is also suffering from memory loss,” Hashino says, and the game’s Japanese trailers seem to suggest another interesting trait about her that you should check out for yourself.
But Studio Zero has not simply added a new character. After beating the demo at Tokyo Game Show 2018, I was treated to a cutscene about Vincent’s past. We see Vincent 15 years ago as a high-school student. Katherine, his girlfriend in the present, is shown with a short haircut and is the football team cheerleader. She is walking together with what seems to be the school’s jocks. Vincent and his friends (who are the same guys you hang out with at the bar 15 years later) are watching Katherine and assume that she is probably dating one of them. Vincent himself is just staring at her with dreamy eyes.
This adds a subtle yet significant new layer to Vincent’s character that wasn’t there before, and more importantly, it makes Katherine a much more interesting and likeable character. In the original game, she comes over as a pushy girlfriend one would want to get rid of as quickly as possible, but with new context as the girl of schoolboy Vincent’s dreams, it suddenly makes much more sense to stick with her rather than going after the blonde bombshell. How Rin comes into the equation as a third love interest for Vincent is yet to be seen, but adding a main character to an already established story sounds like something that could easily feel forced. However, given Hashino’s excellent scenario writing for the Persona series, I’m more than happy to give him and his team the benefit of doubt.
Gameplay-wise, Full Body seems to be catering to both hardcore and casual players at the same time. Catherine’s puzzles – especially in the later levels – can be quite difficult, and several of my friends gave up on it for that reason. Full Body offers various ways to play through Vincent’s nightmares even if you aren’t up for the challenge and stress that comes with it. There is the Safety Mode that gets rid of the time limit, game over and traps. The undo function that allows you to correct mistakes is back as well, and enhanced with an automatic undo for fatal mistakes. For those who don’t want to play the puzzle segments at all, there’s also the option to have them play out automatically or even skip them entirely, without missing out on the adventure part or cutscenes.
How you want to play can be decided for each puzzle individually, as these settings can be turned on or off at anytime. While I actually enjoyed Catherine’s puzzles just as much as the adventure part, I am still really happy with the ability to skip puzzles, as this makes second playthroughs much easier. And that is a big deal for Catherine, as it is a game that comes with many different endings, which I will finally be able to see through thanks to these new features.
Hashino and his team have not forgotten about the hardcore players either. Catherine’s puzzles has a core following to the extent that sub-tournaments are held at fighting-game esports event EVO. Full Body will implement online multiplayer for the first time, and it comes with actual ranked matches. This will undoubtedly heat up the competitive scene for Catherine, and make it much easier to get involved as well.
“The adventure part at Stray Sheep bar has been enhanced as well, with new characters to talk to, new songs on the jukebox and new stages for the Rapunzel mini game,” Hashino says, adding that his team has gone the extra mile to add as much detail as possible here.
Talking about going the extra mile, Full Body has some interesting additional content announced as DLC for the Japanese release as well. First, you can choose between 11 different voices for Catherine (the blonde bombshell). Without going into spoilers, there is actually a logical story reason for being able to choose between voice actors for this character. Players can also access Persona 5 skins for Vincent and friends, and there’s also the peculiar (and typically Japanese) Nero Glass that allows Vincent to see the game’s characters in their underwear.
Catherine: Full Body releases for PS4 and PS Vita in Japan on February 14. A release date for the West has yet to be announced.
Esra Krabbe is an editor at Tech JAPAN. He only cheats on his girlfriend in videogames.