I never played the original release of Catherine. I always heard great things about it but could never quite wrap my head around what it was really supposed to be. When I heard about Catherine: Full Body – the enhanced PS4 version of the sleeper hit – I was too curious to pass up the chance again.
Full Body brings a lot of new content. The updated graphics, expanded soundtrack, and new game modes are rounded off by some extra difficulty settings (for beginners and experts alike) and even co-op play. For anyone else who might have missed the original… well, honestly, it is still pretty tough for me to describe exactly what Catherine is, but I am so glad I didn’t miss my chance to try it this time.
After I played through the full story mode twice and spent dozens of hours playing some of the new game modes, I still couldn’t fully wrap my head around everything. The best way to break it down is an extremely adult-themed, plot-driven, romantic thriller-style anime, crossed with some hallucinogenic night terrors and a vertigo-inducing puzzle game based on climbing and shifting blocks.
You might notice that I mentioned all of the thematic stuff about Catherine first and then the “gameplay” part. This is just because it was what made it one of a kind; the totally insane story, the heavy themes explored in its exposition, and its undeniably cool sense of style struck a lot of its fans. But the game design during the puzzle portions quickly becomes very tricky and endlessly fun to play as well.
As Vincent, the story begins with you dating a girl named Katherine (yes, Katherine with a K). As each day passes by and you respond to ensuing events, you make all kinds of things happen based on what you say to Katherine and how you say it.
Each night, I would spend my time chatting it up at Vincent’s favorite bar with his group of buddies. I would begin to meet some interesting people there as it gets later and later each night. Before the long, the consequences of my choices become more dramatic and apparent, especially when a few more women begin to fall into Vincent’s lap.
Each full day of the story ends with Vincent returning to his home and drifting to sleep, often very drunk. This is where the puzzle game aspect comes in. You basically try to navigate up a giant tower, pushing and pulling blocks to make stair-like platforms to climb or even to send blocks above into the abyss.
This mechanic is a lot of fun. You eventually learn a bunch of interesting techniques involving different kinds of blocks, obstacles, and more. All of the wall-climbing is made most panic-inducing of all by the disturbing objects of Vincent’s nightmares as they try to keep him from getting to the top of each stage and the end of each night’s dream.
The cycle continues day after day. It is the player’s choice how to go along the story and how deep to go with it. I don’t want to spoil anything too important, but with all of the different things that can actually happen, Catherine approaches a lot of very serious, mature, and adult-focused subjects.
Full Body introduces some new characters and half a dozen new possible endings. In each of my playthroughs, I tried my hardest to make different choices at every opportunity, and I experienced dramatically different results. I cannot describe how entertaining and compelling it was to play as a total jerk in my second run after I played the opposite the first time.
Catherine: Full Body gave me a truly unique experience that I haven’t had before with any video game, especially because I hadn’t played the original release. It was definitely one of the darkest and most intense stories I can remember. The juxtaposition of its story-driven and puzzle-driven segments and all that stylish music and art direction… well, it just works. In short, the game is utterly fantastic.