Game Review | The Caligula Effect: Overdose

Time for round 2!

Caligula Effect Overdose is a remake of a PS Vita game, Caligula Effect. One I’ve played, and for the most part enjoyed.

Note, that I said remake, and not remaster, because this is not a remaster. This is essentially along the lines of Persona 3 Portable, in that they reworked the game, added in a new protagonist which changes the story. As well as a lot of other things, new story, new ending etc. etc.

Given that the first game didn’t do so well I was surprised to see them doing this remake. I am however, really glad to see they did though, as frankly; I find this as good as P3P!

It has a story!

The story revolves around the protagonist (you) finding out that the world they’re living in is fake, it’s a virtual world built by Mu, an A.I. who was trying to build a utopia. The people who live there all have some dark past they’re trying to escape, and Mu’s idea of helping them is to lock them in a dreamscape of being back in school (cause school wasn’t traumatic enough!!)

However things start to go wrong, as peoples desires and pasts start to manifest in the dreamscape. Corrupting them, turning them into Digiheads. Then you have the ‘bad guys’, the Ostinato Musicians, who are also turning people into Digiheads so as to protect the dreamscape.

You, and the others who have realized all of this create a group, The Go-Home Club, and start to fight to free themselves from this dreamscape.

Wait, this is a 3x?

The game is essentially split into three segments: Exploration, Combat and social. You run around dungeons, exploring. Get into fights, and then socialize with your buds. All to help them come to terms with their trauma so they’ll want to leave the fake world

However, this remake doesn’t just remake the old game. It adds in a whole new side of things, in that you get to play as the enemy. As a result, we have almost double the content from the original. What’s more, you play both sides alongside each other. This gives a lot of context to the ‘bad guys’ and gives you a lot more understanding of the world, and why they don’t want you to leave.

You’re the virus! You’re the disease! Time to wipe you out!

The thing is, you (and the Go Home Club) are essentially a bug in the system, and the Digiheads (brainwashed students trying to kill you) are the bug spray trying to remove you. So as you don’t infect others cause the entire dream world to collapse. This is because people that listen to Mu’s music, give her the power she needs to keep the world stable.

I found the entire concept to be interesting, because at the end of the day there’s no good and bad. I love it!! And while it’s not implemented really well, it’s done in such a way that it works. Sure there’s a few plot holes, but they’re not really obvious.

Get recruiting!

Alongside the Digiheads you’ll find a plethora of other students in the world, over 500 of them, and they’re all interactable! In fact you’re going to need to interact with them as that’s where you get your buffs from for combat.  

However, this is also a bit of weakness of the game. Given there’s so many people for you to interact with and recruit, they lack any real depth, a lot of them feeling like they just have a switch on them, friend and not friend. Even the trauma they have has a lot of copy paste, which is sadly something you couldn’t get away from due to the vast number of people.

Recruiting them sadly usually ends with just a dull, and uninteresting fetch quest, which brings down the social tone quite a bit.

It’s a homerun!

Where this game comes out punching though and knocks it out of the park, is in its combat. The combat is very satisfying, though does at times boil down to juggling the enemies into the air and smacking them around. Yet, even this I found to be fun and satisfying.

The combat as I said is turn based, however you get to plan you moves, and see the potential outcome. This actually reminded me of Frozen Synapse. The combat is also, surprisingly fast paced. Despite being turn based there is a lot going on, and you can get a bit lost in the fights.

I foresee me shooting you in the face…wait I hit your foot

There’s still the random element of course. Since fights require your abilities to actually hit, and the Imaginary Chain (the ability that lets you view the outcomes) only shows the best possible outcome. So you could spend your time working out a plan and getting the outcome you want, only to have it all fall apart on you due to the all important initial skill failed to hit.

This does mean you’ll be spending a lot more time than you think planning your moves. And yes, at times it does feel a bit tedious, and over stays it’s welcome.

That said, while the combat is fun, it’s not really rewarding. As Stigma (your equipment) and Skill Points have an overly low drop rate, so you’re going to be grinding a lot, which can get tedious. For the most part, all you’ll get from the battles are experience and relationship points for your party.

This is why you’ll need to spend time working on the other students. This is due to them giving you buffs that will help you out in combat.

You also sometimes come across situations where you end up fighting the student you were trying to recruit due to them being brainwashed by the digiheads, while you were on your way to them! Which leads to some interesting developments.

Now let’s talk graphics and audio!

Graphically the game is superb, significantly better than the previous game due to the Unreal Engine 4. The style does take a bit of getting used to, as it’s overly bright. I do feel it does a great job of conveying a dreamscape though.

Sadly however it’s also clear they used the Vita as a base for this, as there’s little to no animations on the character models. When they’re stood there talking to you they look, well uninteresting.

Now, don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying the graphics are bad, because they aren’t. However, the character models have little going on with them which is a shame and a huge missed opportunity.

Mu, the new Hatsune!

Given the premise of the story, Mu being an idol, singing concerts to gain power etc. etc. You expect the game to have some pretty solid sound design and music. You know what, it doesn’t. The music isn’t good, it’s bloody awesome! One of the few where I wish I had the OST on my Spotify!

The music is instrumental for the most part, right up to you going into battle. At that point you get some kick ass vocals kicking off.

The music was so good I found myself deliberately getting into fights, just so I could hear it more!

How does it run?

I’ve been playing on the Switch, and while it’s resolution is not the best (720p docked, around 500p undocked). It’s not a huge issue. The reason being the game runs flawlessly. The original struggled a lot with slowdowns, stuttering, and graphical issues. None of those are here in the new Overdose version of the game.

While docked, I had no issues at all with the game. It ran fine. Sadly though I personally use my switch as a portable device, and yes, it does look a bit fuzzy when it’s undocked. It’s not totally distracting, but it’s noticeable. However, the tradeoff here is that the game does run smoothly, none of the issue on the Vita crop up.

Final Verdict

Do I like this game and would I recommend it? Yes and Yes!

The game attempts to do a lot of different things, and some it succeeds with and others it falls short on. However, at the end of the day, the overall game has been a lot of fun.

While it’s no Persona 4 Golden, it’s still a solid game in its own right. It has a lot of content, with multiple endings, playing as the bad guys, and one hell of an awesome music score!

I will say though if you don’t like Persona style games, you’re probably not going to get on with this. This is not a genre breaking game. It’s just a good solid game.

What I’m especially happy about is that it’s a vastly improved version of the original.

If you liked the original, despite its flaws, then you’re going to love this one. And I would say the same is true if you found the original to tedious, but love Persona style games.

Overall, I’ve had a lot of fun with this game and hope that they make a sequel, expanding the world and lore of the game. Over time it could find a place alongside the Likes of Persona and Shin Megumi Tensei.

The copy of The Caligula Effect Overdose used for this review was provided to us by it’s publisher NIS America.

Qudduws Campbell

That messy hair bloke: Romantic, Food lover, Gamer, Sports Fan, Manga Reader, Tech Head, Podcaster... Pretty much do a bit of everything.