Catherine: Full Body

Catherine: Full Body

Catherine tries so hard to simultaneously deliver experimental gameplay and rare, complex subject matter. There are many better games, but most of them look lazy in comparison. The story half is a relatively realistic exploration of the difficulties of long-term relationships, while the gameplay is composed of timed block puzzles soaked in metaphors for conformity, sacrifice, and twelve different sources of anxiety. Being hugely concerned with gender roles, there’s a lot to unpack with the narrative, and the wide rift in cultural translation isn’t doing it any favours. The game is partially intended as a playable Rorschach test for your own attitudes toward relationships, and that permeates the whole experience. Thus, it could be reasonably considered any combination of misogynist, misandrist, transphobic, or…none of them.

To be honest, the plot doesn’t really hold up regardless of how tasteful it may or may not be. Your decisions mainly affect the final outcome, while the intervening time is consumed by distinctly anime-flavoured drama that hinges on the protagonist’s inability to tell the truth, explain himself, or look up the definition of rape. Even when the player’s decisions matter, there’s a severe disconnect between cause and effect. Full Body adds another major route, which helps break apart the false dichotomy the original release was stuck between. However, it’s also decidedly wackier than anything else in the game, and it adds yet more wrinkles to the question of what the game’s own messages are.

Full Body also adds a suite of much-needed mercy features to the campaign. The controls and time limit can still be respectively uncooperative and annoying, but the revamped undo system makes the levels forgiving enough that you can now appreciate their smart, deliberate layouts. Alternating between the two worlds of gameplay and narrative prevents either from overstaying itself, but if that’s not enough variety, new block types and items are constantly being introduced. The gameplay audio is unbearably repetitive, but the music that accompanies it is splendid, and the voice acting is solid overall. In another case of Catherine simply trying harder than most games, there are even cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, now with online functionality. They work startlingly well – it’s a lot more fun when the biggest hazard is another person rather than an unfeeling timer – but the unavoidable loss of the undo button is, fittingly, their undoing.

6/10
6/10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.