Catherine remaster that demonstrates how well the game’s distinctive premise and exploration
Catherine: Full Body still tells a fascinating, personal tale. The nightmarish block puzzles are still weirdly intense and satisfying to surmount, and the Stray Sheep is still a wonderful bar to spend your nights in. Full Body does a great job in refining and refreshing the Persona studio’s fascinating foray into the social lives of adults, and Catherine continues to stand out as a game that feels both incredibly bizarre and authentically intimate. Catherine: Full Body is a remaster that demonstrates how well the game’s distinctive premise and exploration of adult themes still hold up, even if its new additions to the plot don’t fit in seamlessly. Vincent is a 32-year-old man in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend, Katherine, and at a stagnant point in his life where he isn’t exactly sure what he wants for his future. His core group of friends are in different circumstances, but they share similar dilemmas; being in your thirties is hard. Vincent has recently found himself plagued by frequent nightmares of scrambling up a crumbling tower, and he’s losing sleep and in a constant haze because of them.
Time ticks along as you perform actions in the bar, and its patrons will come and go. You can skip these social sections entirely if you wish, but doing so robs you of the game’s most engrossing component. Vincent’s journey is a deeply introspective one, and though the plot’s major beats unfold in the cutscenes that bookend each day, the nuances of his character come through in his interactions with other people. Managing Vincent’s connection to his phone, and, in turn, how he treats the women in his life from a distance, sways how he might later react to significant plot points and revelations. Getting to know Vincent’s deeply flawed but sympathetic friends, as well as peeling away at the backstories of the other bar patrons as the week goes on, helps to explore themes revolving around maturity and the nature of human relationships. Full Body’s inclusion of the Japanese vocal track also provides an interesting and different take on character performances if you’ve already experienced the English version before. The ebb and flow of your social actions–chatting to your friends, ordering another drink, checking your phone intermittently, and spending time with Vincent’s idle thoughts–make the ritual of whittling away time at the Stray Sheep strangely satisfying in its mundanity. The evocative soundtrack helps to foster this relaxed contemplative state, as does the game’s holistic but understated audiovisual style. It’s an incredibly pleasant atmosphere to be in, and it succeeds in replicating the quiet delight of spending a night drinking with friends with no particular occasion.
It’s nice to have that safe haven, because when Vincent goes home to bed each night, the nightmares start, and that’s when things get really stressful. What’s causing the nightmares is a mysterious unknown at first, but from the outset, it’s clear that they act somewhat as a lucid metaphor for Vincent’s internal strife. You need to guide Vincent up a sheer, crumbling tower constructed entirely of cubes and other cuboids, sometimes while being chased by a monstrous personification of one of Vincent’s objects of anxiety. The tower is rarely more than three cubes deep, and while its construction might sometimes form a natural staircase for Vincent to climb, you’ll frequently need to create a path upward yourself by pushing and pulling the cubes around in strict, grid-based arrangements. This task quickly escalates in difficulty, as the sheer tower faces become higher and harder to navigate. There will be fewer pieces to work with, while blocks with unique properties will also appear, such as being immovable or shattering after being stepped on twice. These scenarios stop you from creating an ordinary staircase, and they force you to think of more unorthodox ways to arrange and move around the tower. Vincent can hang on the edges of blocks, and blocks will support each other so long as a horizontal edge connects; both these rules are fundamental to many of the techniques required to work your way up.
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