Reviewed by Thomas
Caligula Effect was first released on PlayStation Vita in Japan in 2016. Followed by a release in the Summer of 2017 for North America and Europe. The 2019 version of Caligula Effect is more than just an updated port for the Nintendo Switch. Though it isn’t labelled a remaster, it tacks on the subtitle Overdose and has been rebuilt with a new game engine. For previous owners of the PlayStation Vita version, there’s a lot of new content to discover. Overdose adds new endings, scenarios, and main characters. With already more than 500 recruitable students and the option to play as a female protagonist, Caligula Effect: Overdose is the most complete version of the game.
An Emotional Swing
Caligula Effect: Overdose has several story branches. The main characters of the story find themselves trapped in a type of digital world called Mobius. With a common goal of trying to break free from the catatonic situation they find themselves in and return to the real world, they form a group aptly named the Go-Home Club. Not all students are fortunate enough to be self aware of the world they’re trapped in, or they prefer the false life to reality. The antagonist controlling Mobius simply wants to provide a better world for the trapped souls and enlists popular students as musicians to brainwash the common wanderers. There exists a push and pull to the day to day grind as you try to convince more people to follow your cause. You have to keep an eye on them because they slowly let their guard down and switch sides. As you traverse the map you encounter students who have resisted urges and those who have succumbed. The later acting as enemies to engage with.
One aspect I enjoyed of the story was the fact that you’re eventually recruited by the main antagonist, Mu. She pleads with you to simply see things from the other perspective. Even going as far as giving you a means to hide your double agent duties and work in secrecy as to not upset the Go-Home Club. Being able to experience both sides of the fence gives a new outlook on your core objective and the relative innocence the antagonist imparts. These sympathies can be exploited at the players choice.
The Catharsis Effect
Caligula Effect: Overdose has a markedly different approach on turn based combat. This JRPG dares to innovate with a truly unique combat system. Instead of the traditional “I attack you while you stand there and take it”, all of the characters engage and act at the same time. This includes your opponents. Instead of issuing a single command to one unit and waiting for the action to carry out, you input all the actions for the team. Up to four playable characters may participate in battle. Each one can take up to three actions during your initial attack. Since the enemies can guard or counter, it would be helpful to predict the future so you can plan your moves accordingly. That’s exactly how combat works in Caligula Effect. You can also adjust when to execute certain moves to work with the whole team to chain together powerful combos. If done correctly, you can eliminate higher level opponents in one turn. The opposite is true. If you mess up your timing or select the wrong move or counter, a lower level enemy can gain the advantage and KO your party. You have the option the enter and preview each members attack or you can set your peers to automatically act. The auto attack was useful for grinding as you don’t have to micromanage every step of the battle.
Are You Familiar With Asparagus?
Life abounds in Mobius. As mentioned above, there are over 500 characters you can interact with. Each person has their own stats, abilities and secrets to unlock. Delving deeper into their psyche presents as side quests in the world of Mobius. The dialogue with side characters is limited and often repeated. The substantial interactions come from your core team of the Go-Home Club. Featuring a dating style sim in between battles and the main story, you can become closer with your partners and learn their deepest secrets. With a huge ensemble of characters, there’s a lot conversations taking place. Fan service aside, I think it would be prudent to mention that there are a few encounters where the comments are a bit insensitive. Even though the story and character development account for the offensive statements, it can be off putting for some players.
Gothic Rock is Super Cool
Caligula Effect features an impressive soundtrack. Since the enemy focuses on musicians and music to carry out their nefarious deeds, it stands to reason that the actual music would be on par with the rich story. Additionally, the varied tracks match the many levels in the game. There are a lot of beautiful backgrounds in the world of Mobius which make it an inviting place. Most of the cutscenes are rendered with the gameplay assets but occasionally there are a few fluid scenes which are really well done. The character portraits in the status menu are also beautifully detailed and show each member’s personality.
Worthless System We Call Society
As Caligula Effect originated as a PlayStation Vita title, it presented best in handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch. The dialogue was easier to read the the graphics looked a lot better. When playing on the television, the characters came off a bit blurry. The words on the screen were also harder to read at a distance, but maybe that has more to do with my old age. There were a few instances where the graphics were displaced. One character’s hair pops from behind her cloak. Any other bugs were rare or unnoticed.
Caligula Effect: Overdose features an impressive world with a great story. The character development is engaging and the combat is fresh. Whether you played the original or are new to the world of Mobius, you’ll find plenty to do. The replay value is high as there are numerous characters to interact with and scenarios to uncover. This is a JRPG that feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch.
- Entertaining Story
- Complex Characters
- Unique Combat
- Insensitive Comments
- Bigscreen Blurs