The PlayStation Vita may not dead, but the market is so niche that any exclusive game it gets doesn't get the hype it deserves. So it's good to see some of their exclusive games being revived and ported to other consoles for better reach. In the case of The Caligula Effect, not only was it revived to be ported, but it was also updated in terms of effects and additional content, thus the new title The Caligula Effect: Overdose.
If you're not a fan of JRPGs, The Caligula Effect rings no bells to mind compared to big titles such as the Persona series. But that doesn't mean the game doesn't deserve some level of attention, as there are some pretty interesting attractions that even casual gamers may be interested in. After all, the game tackles a very important question: Is it better to live a happy lie or a sad reality?
The Caligula Effect revolves around the story of your protagonist stuck in a high school world called Mobius, created by a vocal program called µ (pronounced Myu) who wanted to provide an escape for people who were living painful lives. No matter how much time has passed, or whether you've graduated, you'll eventually relive the same life in high school over and over again.
The moment your character realises that they're stuck in this world, they join a group called the "Go Home Club" and fight their way to freedom.
Some of the biggest on the Overdose update is that you can now choose between a male or female character, each with their own design and voice actor. While you can't customise how they look, it's a neat little addition to feel a little more immersed into Mobius.
On top of that, the new changes will also have you discovering more about your enemies, the Ostinato Musicians and why they're motivated to stay in the world µ created. It may even move you to stay in Mobius as well, considering how real life sure can suck!
One of the biggest challenges in getting into a JRPG for those not into it is that they may find the whole turn based attack boring and repetitive, yet the Caligula Effect did something different by having a chain action and prediction preview of your attacks. This enables you to decide on what attacks to do, as well as time it right. While this definitely makes the turn based attack more interesting, you may spend a bit too much time planning your attacks in the beginning to figure out which attacks work.
But no worries! One of the best aspects of this game is that you can always change your level to the one which you prefer. If you don't like fighting and are more keen on the story of the game, choose the easy mode and while you still have to fight, you can breeze through them easily. Still, if you're a JRPG fan and would like a little challenge, consider playing on Hard Mode. If you do play on Extreme mode, let me know as I'd like to see how well that plays out for you!
Another aspect to enjoy about the game is most definitely the music. If you're a fan of J-pop, the music is a banger and may find yourself humming to the music eventually. Or if not, you may find the music cumbersome as it does go on and on after a while. But that's not the most cumbersome aspect to worry about...
Awkward animations and movements
Despite some upgrades, the animation in this game remains really jarring as movements are awkward, even during the anime cut scenes. While it's still a lot better compared to the Vita version, if you're going into this with no idea of the original game, you may find the animation off putting.
As much as the battle is interesting to some, others may find this fighting style of chain actions and predictions as a lot more extra work to deal with. I definitely spent a lot more time than necessary getting the timing of attacks right, and this was just in the beginning of the game!
There's also this aspect of the game that I didn't really like, and that's the fact you can chat with random NPCs and build relationships with them to help in battles eventually. Considering there are 500 NPCs you can do so with, it sounds really exciting at first! Until you realise they really do act like NPCs to the point that any relationship you build comes off as shallow. While it's fine in a gaming standpoint, trying to build up hundreds of friendships using generic questions (with the exception of the asparagus. Go on, ask me about the asparagus) or solving people's problems in a sudden cutscene doesn't feel genuine enough for me to care about any of them.
Live the life you want
Despite the downsides, The Caligula Effect: Overdose is a great game to play for JRPG fans and is also newbie friendly as long as you play it on easy mode. The game's plot on whether you should stay in a world of lies and be happy or return to a reality filled with pain will surely ring a bell for everyone, and given some time of adjustments you may find yourself enjoying this game.