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Catherine: Full Body

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Atlus U.S.A.
Release Date: Sept. 3, 2019


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PS4 Preview - 'Catherine: Full Body'

by Thomas Wilde on July 22, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Catherine: Full Body is a new twist on the original Catherine, a mature romantic action-adventure puzzle game from the makers of the Persona series.

Pre-order Catherine: Full Body

When Catherine was released in 2011, it was a divisive, deeply weird puzzle-platformer. There's nothing quite like it, even now, and its local multiplayer mode has acquired a small, dedicated competitive scene; although it sounds like a joke, Catherine has shown up at Evolution, the biggest tournament in Las Vegas, for the last three years, and was at Evo Japan earlier this year.

We're probably overdue for a Catherine 2, but in the meantime, there's Catherine: Full Body, which was available for play at Sega's booth at E3 2019. It's not a sequel or a full remake, but there's a lot here to unpack just the same. It's probably not inaccurate to call it a sort of "Catherine 1.5," with a lot of additions, major changes, and new online modes.

The basic structure is still here. You still play as Vincent Brooks, a commitment-phobic man in his 30s who ends up cheating on his girlfriend Catherine with another woman, Katherine, who he meets in a bar. As his hookups with Katherine accelerate into a full-fledged affair, Vincent begins having elaborate nightmares that symbolize his issues, represented by his attempts to scale an elaborate tower while pursued by demons. Fail, and Vincent gets splattered into jam by his pursuers; succeed, and you get closer to one of several possible resolutions.

The towers in question are no joke. The system for climbing them has been adjusted slightly from the original game, and more than twice the number of towers is available, counting the "practice mode" you can play in the bar during Vincent's waking hours. You have to pull and push blocks into a viable path for Vincent to climb while you're on a time limit, which is harder than it sounds; the standard tower that was playable on the E3 show floor destroyed me. (I don't know which is worse: being repeatedly slapped to death by a demon baby, or that it isn't the only time.)

The big change, however, is the addition of a new possible partner for Vincent, named Rin, who plays the piano at the Stray Sheep bar and becomes Vincent's neighbor. Rin can provide Vincent with a panic button during tower stages, as her music can keep the tower from collapsing underneath him. Her presence changes up the main story flow, and if you go out of your way to do so, you can have Vincent enter a full relationship with Rin, complete with three new possible endings.

There's also one new alternate ending for both Catherine and Katherine, which are exclusive to Full Body, and more than 20 new animated cut scenes across the course of the main story. The spur for the new alternate endings, as well as starting a relationship with Rin, appears to be a new choice that Vincent can choose to make on Day 6 of the story. There are also a couple of new characters available to speak with, and the localization has been adjusted so Vincent isn't quite as much of a jerk about Erica's gender identity.

You can now pick between two modes, Original and Arrange. The former is the unaltered, full-difficulty version of the original game, while Arrange mode adds a number of new mechanics and stages for players who are already familiar with the original levels. A new difficulty level, Safety, lets you further engage additional casual-friendly options, such as skipping puzzles, omitting time limits, making game overs impossible, or adding an autoplay function that makes Vincent automatically take the shortest possible route to his next checkpoint on a given stretch of the tower.

The North American version of Catherine: Full Body will ship on Sept. 3 for the PlayStation 4. There's a Vita version of the game in Japan, but it apparently won't be localized for foreign markets. You can also order a "Heart's Desire" premium edition of the game that includes a metal case, a collector's box, a plush sheep, and a hardcover artbook.

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