A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Catherine: Full Body is a story-driven puzzle game for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. The game's about a man who's cheating on his pregnant girlfriend. He gets drunk every night, then often wakes up the next morning with a strange girl in his bed with whom he has apparently slept. He spends his days lying to his girlfriend and hanging out at a bar with friends, and his guilt-ridden nights in dreams in which he must climb towers of blocks while being chased by huge demons such as an angry bride or a monstrous baby who gruesomely kill him if he's too slow. Dialogue includes frank discussions of sex and sexuality, and several scenes show a man and woman in bed together, cuddling and kissing, half covered by sheets, sex sometimes implied. Several female characters are stereotypes, including a seductress, a nagging girlfriend, and a young woman depicted with child-like innocence. Characters text each other suggestive images, and the hero can don a pair of glasses that lets him see everyone around him in their underwear. He and his friends smoke and drink to intoxication while engaging in profanity-laden conversations.
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What's it about?
CATHERINE: FULL BODY is an upgraded rerelease of a PlayStation 3 game that grew a surprising cult following when it launched in 2011. It tells the story of Vincent, a 30-year-old man in a long-term relationship with a woman named Katherine, who we find out early on is pregnant. Unwilling to commit to her, Vincent goes out drinking and smoking with his friends every night, talking mostly about women, sex, and relationships. One morning he wakes up with another woman in his bed and no memory of how she got there. He lies to both his girlfriend and the new woman, promising that he's faithful to them. Meanwhile, Vincent is also having nightmares every time he goes to sleep about climbing a tower of sliding blocks while being chased by demons clearly inspired by things going on in his life, including a monstrous baby and Catherine as an angry bride. These towers are the game's puzzles, serving as metaphors for Vincent's deep desire to simply outrun and escape his problems. Players must cleverly rearrange the blocks in order to find a path to the top, and do it quickly enough to avoid being killed -- because if Vincent dies in his dreams, he will also die in the real world. The rerelease adds several new features to the original experience, including new story content and endings, online competitive puzzle play, and a safety mode that auto-completes puzzles should players become stuck.
Is it any good?
Some games don't age as gracefully as others. Surprisingly, CATHERINE: FULL BODY -- which has received only minor enhancements to graphics quality -- still looks quite good for a game originally released in 2011. It feels like interactive anime, with many scenes that wouldn't look out of place in a movie or TV show. And its block-sliding, tower-climbing puzzles are as compelling now as they were when they debuted. Figuring how to manipulate the blocks to create staircases, bridges, and other means of ascension is satisfyingly challenging, and has become a little less frustrating with the knowledge that you can, at any point, tap a single button to engage safety mode and watch Vincent automatically climb all the way to the top. The addition of local and online competitive play -- plus a puzzle remix mode -- provides players with plenty more puzzling fun, expanding the amount of time fans can potentially spend with the game.
That said, Catherine's depiction of female characters was never very flattering, and with time it has only grown more problematic. Several women come off as caricatures rather than fully formed personalities, and the camera tends to linger on and ogle certain parts of their bodies. That Vincent can put on glasses that allow him to see women in sexy lingerie only ups the creepy factor. Complicating matters, some of the male characters come off as sex-starved, with a tendency to objectify women and see them as things to be conquered and won rather than people. The narrative is salvaged to a degree by Vincent's deep sense of guilt and regret for cheating, as well as players' ability to respond to questions about what they would do if they were in Vincent's position (and also see how other players responded -- the overwhelming majority tend to choose the morally right option), but the storytelling still feels icky in several places. Catherine: Full Body would have benefited more not from a re-release, but rather a remake that covered the same ground in a tone that better reflects our society's evolving perception and understanding of gender roles and relationships.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in media. Is the impact of the violence in Catherine: Full Body affected by fact that there's no combat, though the hero can still die in plenty of gruesome ways? Do you think we interpret violence in games differently when our character is the victim rather than the perpetrator?
Which, if any, of Catherine: Full Body's female characters feel authentic with fully formed personalities? Why do you think they feel inauthentic or fake?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sega of America
- Release date: July 7, 2020
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence
- Last updated: July 6, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.