JRPGs are fun to play, even more so when they are done right. Having stumbled across a trailer on YouTube about The Caligula Effect: Overdoes, I was eager to do some research and see if it’s something that I’d want to get my hands on and play. It didn’t take much convincing for me to know that it was defiantly the type of game that I love playing. It ticked all the boxes; Anime style characters, Check. Japanese voice acting, Check and enjoyable gameplay with lovable characters, Check.
Upon doing some digging I realised that The Caligula Effect was actually a PS Vita game that has been remastered for the PS4 with some added content and features to make the game feel refreshed and new. The game is a Japanese Role-Playing game which features turn-based combat in dungeon environments. While exploring you can engage in combat with enemies called Digiheads, this happens simply by walking into them or them spotting you. At the beginning of the game you’ll only be able to use your protagonist in combat but as you progress through the story you’ll unlock more characters to fight beside you. One of the big new features for the game is being able to choose your character’s gender, as in the original you were only able to play as a male, by adding this feature the developers have allowed for further storytelling and more in-depth gameplay by making certain things differently depending on the gender you choose at the beginning of the game.
For those that didn’t play the original like me, the premise is that you’re stuck in a virtual reality program called Mobius which was created but a character called U to help people escape the pain of their real-world lives and live out the same three years of high school. However, your character along with a selected few realise that the world is fake and want to return to the real world and live out their normal lives. So your band together and form a group called the Go-Home Club and try and track down U to get her to send you home.
The thing that took me a while to get used to was the turn-based combat that this game has. It’s not like your usual turn-based combat where one goes first then the other, it’s all done on a timeline and you have to time your attacks with your other party members to pull off big combos and chain cool attack. You can have a party of up to four characters whether this is the main ones from the Go-Home Club or other students from Mobius when you have built a good enough relationship with them. It took me a while to get used to the system and to be honest I still struggle with it now but it is enjoyable and makes the game more challenging which is good. I also find it awesome how you can chain up to three moves with each character in your party and then watch the outcome of the battle before confirming your attack. This allows for some complex battles as well as some tense moments when in a boss battle or fighting multiple enemies, there is a lot of trial and error but in the end, it is worth it. Each enemy and character have their own unique style of combat whether that be a supporting role, heavy damage or just your average damage dealer, I find it easier to make a party mixed with different types of styles that way you are ready for almost anything.
You’ll find Enigma’s in the world which are little collectibles scattered around the dungeons, on top of these you will pick up items that can be obtained via battling Digiheads. These can be equipped to your party members to make them stronger. Characters also have skills that can be unlocked and leveled up to make stronger when used in combat. It’s best to grind the game for as long as possible to get better upgrades for your party and get skill points to spend on yourself to level up moves. It’s a good thing that the game gives you a run option so that if you want to run from a fight or are struggling with a high-level enemy you can go away and come back at a later date. This can’t be done with boss battle though, so make sure you have your best party ready for these.
The other two main features are the WIRE and Causality Link. I personally find these tedious and annoying at times. The WIRE is like a mobile that you can use to text people in the game to find information out about them, though it gets to the point where you are just asking the same question to people and getting the same answers back. It does help you learn more about each character but you have to put a lot of time into it, which can get boring. The Causality Link is a massive spider-web that shows NPCs that you come across in the games and by reaching certain levels of friendship with them unlocks things for your character as well as side quests and mission. It’s very complex and took me ages to get my head around it but it adds whole other element to the game if you wanted to do something that wasn’t just the main story.
The game has multiple endings as well as post-game content which helps add more hours once completed, you also have the Causality Link to complete which can take a while as meeting all the students in the game and building a relationship with them takes time. On top of these, you can play the game through as a female then as a male if you want to see the differences, though I personally don’t know how big of a difference there actually is. There is a nice level of grind to, which makes you want to level up your party as well as build your association level with them. It’s just a shame that it can get dull at times doing the leveling up between people due to boring dialogue that repeats and the number of students in Mobius.
These type of games need one thing to enjoy them to the fullest and that is time. If you have hours to spend playing this game then it is well and truly fantastic and gripping, the story can feel slow at times and samey but it is very enjoyable. If you only play for a few hours then put it down and came back to it later you might get lost and forget what is happening but thankfully the game does a brilliant job at keeping you hooked with gripping story-telling and a complex battle mechanic that is rewarding in itself when mastered. If you played the original or just want a new JRPG to sink your teeth into then don’t look any further because this is it! The slice of life feel you get from the game and the whole mystery behind each character that you can unlock is incredible. Hats off to the developers for the level of detail they go into with this, as well as the combat which is awesome to watch when you’re pulling off massive combos that are timed beautifully. For the reasons stated above, I’m happy to give The Caligula Effect: Overdoes a well-earned score of 7-10 and a place on my list of personal favourite JRPGs.