The original Catherine came out in 2011, which is a veritable eternity in internet years. To put it into perspective, the most popular meme of 2011 was Scumbag Steve. Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ was released the same year. I still have my original copy of the game collecting dust on my shelf, and hadn’t thought about it in years. When they announced Full Body in early 2018, I was excited, but wondered if the new content would be worth purchasing the game all over again. Thankfully, I can say that the answer is ‘yes,’ but with some caveats. Read my full review to find out!
Catherine: Full Body
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Players: 1 (2 in Online Mode)
Catherine, and its re-release nearly a decade later, both base their core gameplay loop around pushing, pulling, and climbing on blocks. You really wouldn’t guess that from looking at the characters and cutscenes, but it is essentially a puzzle game with a heavy story focus at the end of the day.
Thankfully, Catherine: Full Body adds something called Remix Mode, which adds new mechanics to the levels to shake things up. If you have never played the game before, you can go through your first run on default, but the new inclusions are a welcome addition for people like me who played the original to death.
Remix Mode adds new, larger blocks, which are shaped like weird Tetris pieces. Instead of pushing and pulling each individual part to get to your objective, you can only move them as a unit, which hikes up the difficulty a fair amount.
Also new to Full Body are a few different online modes. One is essentially a time attack, which lets you speedrun stages and compete in the leaderboard with other Gamers™ for street cred. There’s also a new co-op mode, which I was unable to test out, but seems to be two players trying to not accidentally kill one another while they ascend.
There are even a wealth of new stages, and yet more if you take Rin’s path, who is the newest love interest of Vincent’s added in Full Body. Additionally, the Babel and Colosseum modes have plenty of added content, as does the minigame “Rapunzel” in the bar, which has been renamed “Super Rapunzel.”
Another of Full Body’s new features is ‘Safety Mode,’ or ‘Game Journalist Mode’ as I’ve been affectionately calling it. You cannot get a Game Over, there’s no time limit, and you can turn on Auto Play to have the computer beat the stage for you. There’s also simply a button to skip the puzzle section entirely, if you hate actually playing video games.
As much as I riff on this option, it was extremely helpful in subsequent playthroughs just to see all of the new endings added to the game. There are five of them in total, some being much more interesting than others. I found most a little disappointing, but Catherine’s alternate ending is great.
The story is largely the same as the original game, though there is much more context now via flashback cutscenes and additional dialogue. In total, there are twenty new animated scenes, which are pretty well-done. The story centers around Vincent, the protagonist who is plagued by horrible dreams in which he’s running away from all manner of nasty things.
These dreams directly correlate with his day-to-day life, wherein he is torn between a committed relationship with his long-time girlfriend Katherine, and a newcomer who tickles the part of his gray matter that wants freedom and excitement, Catherine.
The newest potential love interest, Rin, is who most of the new cutscenes focus on. Vincent finds her running from a ‘stalker’ and saves her, getting her a job at the Stray Sheep, a bar where most of the dialogue and events take place in Catherine: Full Body. She has amnesia, and can’t remember much about herself, though she enjoys playing the piano.
There is a big twist in Rin’s story, whose path can be unlocked via answering a set amount of questions correctly in the Confessional Booth after every puzzle. It’s not much of a shock if you were listening to people’s speculations and hype before the game’s release, but I still am choosing not to spoil it out of respect for the people who like going into stuff completely blind.
And then there’s another twist, which I was totally on board with. However, after you’ve completed the extra stages in her storyline (which were fun and challenging, thankfully), the big reveal at the end is…well, it’s something.
Suffice it to say that I found Rin’s True Ending both disappointing and just plain annoying. To the point where I’d almost recommend not going down her path at all. It kinda felt like Atlus was taking the piss, as there are characters in her story that are essentially recolored Minions, complete with grating voices and stupid antics. Hard pass.
The new story content apart from Rin’s arc is great, however, and helps establish Katherine and Vincent’s backstory a little more. When I first played the game back in 2011, I felt like Katherine was painted in a pretty bad light in a lot of their interactions with one another, but seeing them happy together in flashbacks really put the events of the game into perspective.
The music, as always with Shoji Meguro as composer, is fantastic. Full Body also adds a few new tracks to the mix, which makes me a little sad I didn’t get the Limited Edition, which includes a soundtrack.
Catherine: Full Body’s graphics don’t seem to have changed tremendously, but the cel-shaded look of modern Atlus games tends to be pretty timeless, so I never noticed anything looking wonky. I really like the style of Catherine, and it’s no wonder they decided to use a similar look for Persona 5.
Of course, I can’t talk about Catherine: Full Body without addressing the elephant in the room: Erica. She’s a waitress working at The Stray Sheep, and a childhood friend of Vincent and the gang’s. She’s also transgender, which they often hinted at in the original game, but never fully admitted.
In one of the new endings, you see Erica pre-transition, which a lot of people got really upset about. However, this anger was basically unfounded, as said ending is actually the past being re-written, and not just a future where Erica didn’t transition. She even mentions her intent to still transition in the little end-game scene, so it’s entirely a non-issue.
People were threatening to boycott Catherine: Full Body due to the assumption that Rin was a trans female, and she’s not. So there’s that. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to wait a little bit before reacting to things you hear online, because, shock horror, sometimes they aren’t true.
With that out of the way, I can definitely recommend Catherine: Full Body to fans of the original and newcomers alike. It’s one of my favorite games, with a simple but addictive gameplay loop, interesting and multi-faceted characters, and a looming, mysterious threat that ties them all together.
The price tag is a little daunting, though. I can’t help but feel like $40 would be a better price, since paying a full $60 for a game you’ve already played before is a bit of a hard sell. I’d recommend waiting for a sale, though if you’re a super-fan of Catherine and want it now, don’t let me stop you.
Catherine: Full Body was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Atlus. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.