Gaming Review

The Caligula Effect Overdose Review

Here’s my The Caligula Effect Overdose Review. Now, I know I haven’t written a gaming review in a while, I still do play games in my downtime. But most of my time recently has been taken up with writing about tech or working on some other projects.

So, why am I writing a review about a game that’s (at the time of writing) 3 years old now. Well, it’s simple really. I got the chance to check out the Caligula Effect Overdose recently due to getting a gift voucher for my local CEX. I’d always wanted to check the game out and when I saw it for a decent price, I thought I’d go for it.

So, that’s a bit of a background as to why I’m writing about this particular game. Without further ado, here’s my The Caligula Effect Overdose review.

The Caligula Effect Overdose is an adventure RPG first released in 2018. It’s currently available on the PS4, PC or Nintendo Switch and it’s much much better than the original. You see, it’s a remake of the same game from 2016, which was originally created and launched on the Playstation Vita. The 2016 offering had widely varied reviews, some people loved it and quite a lot of people hated it. It could have become a cult hit, but never did hit the highs expected of it.

Before I carry on though, I have a bit of a disclaimer. And, I want to be honest with you. I never played the original Caligula Effect. I didn’t even watch the trailer or gameplay videos prior to buying and reviewing the remake. I did hear many many things about it though, most of those were bad however. It tried to tackle many things and succeeded at almost none of them.

So, when the news of a remake was published it was a welcome announcement to a lot of folks in the RPG community. Particularly those gamers that thought the original could have offered much more and held their breath for some future improvements.

Here’s my thoughts on the remake then. I won’t give any spoilers, you’ll have to read it all the way to the end, or skip it and head straight to the summary if you don’t have much time.

The Caligula Effect Overdose Review

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, here’s a quick plot synopsis taken from IGDB. If you haven’t heard of IGDB it’s a great gaming website. It’s pretty much a gaming hub that contains lots of resources for pretty much every game you can think of. It’s community driven and owned by Twitch aswell, so head on over and contribute where you can. Anyway, here’s the synopsis:

“Mobius. An idyllic world that exists for the sake of letting people forget about the pain and problems of reality. In this world created by a sentient vocaloid program, μ (Mu), reality and fantasy has become blurred, allowing people to relive their high school years in bliss. Yet in this seemingly beautiful and perfect world, something is amiss. Escape from this false paradise with your fellow students and return to reality in The Caligula Effect: Overdose!”

The Caligula Effect Overdose Review – The trailer hides the fact that this game is pretty awful.

Game Play

The game begins during a fairly normal everyday occurrence, a school assembly. Your character, the games main protagonist, is giving a speech. The speech is to give a warm welcome the latest freshman class. Things seem normal at first glance, but then everything starts to take quite a strange turn when some of the students’ heads start to morph into a variety of strange forms. And, what’ stranger still is that you’re the only person who notices. Having been very clearly disturbed by this exceedingly strange event, you get the hell out of there and run out of the school. Follow the cutscenes and you’ll eventually learn that there’s a reason for the recent string of events: the world you’re presently in isn’t real!

The 2018 remake is pretty much the same game as before. A super complex artificial intelligence called ‘Mu’ has created a virtual world called Mobius. And, inside that virtual world the AI has trapped countless souls of people who can’t cope with life in the real world. Mobius allows these desperate souls to live in a fantasy world of anime teenage high school life, without all of the real world’s endless problems. In many ways, it’s an escape but it’s a false paradise and it’s something that you’ll actually have to escape from in order to return to reality.

In order to break out you’ll need to team up with your fellow players and acquire some allies. Doing so allows you to create a sort of resistance, called the ‘Go Home Club’. The Go Home Club is a team or squad of students that dedicate their lives in the hope of escaping Mobius and returning to their real world lives, if it costs them their lives, then so be it. They want to break out at any cost. The lines between reality and simulation have increasingly become blurred.

Now it wouldn’t be an RPG without an enemy or opposing forces. And, Caligula Effect Overdose, is no different. Well, it is a little bit different as the enemy is a bunch of composers! They’re the Ostinato Musicians and they’re completely devoted to keeping people just like you, from leaving Mobius.

For the most part, the game focuses on the efforts of your newly formed alliance, the ‘Go Home Club’, but depending on your choices in-game, you can take on a different path. This different path has you acting as a double agent for the Musicians and even siding with them. Making certain choices opens up extra content and new scenarios.

The gameplay and story has some incredibly interesting themes and they try to handle quite sensitive topics, but the execution isn’t all that great in all honesty and when we come to the combat system, it could have been so much better. It’s just a little bit rubbish.

The game does explore some interesting ideas and themes.

When I said the combat system could be better, here’s an example, your main character attacks can be timed to create a chain of combos. These combos leave a lot of room for experimentation and strategy. But, this is where it fails in it’s execution. The game’s battle system really just boils down to button bashing and consistently spamming the same attack combos whilst watching all of your button inputs play out in front of you in a hodgepodge of confusion and bewilderment.

As with many RPG’s you get character skills. But they’re really isn’t any reason to use them at all. Other than your main skill you won’t really need to use any of them. Obviously you’ll make use of your heal skills. But, the combat system is pretty easy you won’t even need to use it that much. You can reposition your players anywhere on the battlefield, but again you don’t even really need to get involved in battlefield tactics, because your characters will move of their own accord in order to perform attacks. Enemy AI also do the same.

I mentioned briefly above that about the issue with the battles you’ll come across. They’re just not challenging at all! You’ll gradually come across stronger and stronger enemies, but you’ll be able to kill them by just prodding and poking and generally chipping away at their health with your basic button bashing attacks.

I read a comment on a YouTube video that I thought was extremely accurate, it said that the enemies you’ll meet are effectively acting as a punching bag that can, on occasion, fight back.

There is no real skill on display for how the enemies attack either. The way the developers have created the enemies is a huge let down. The fights you have with them are way too predictable and super super easy. Another observation I had and just one more aspect that completely removes any sort of challenge from the game, is the fact that the party’s health and skill points are automatically restored after each battle. Any sense of mortal danger is simply swept aside by a cop out of epic proportions, it makes the characters heal skill completely pointless.

One of the very few things that I actually like about the game is the in-game social system. The social system is called “Causality Links” and it has more than 500 students that you can be-friend. Each student can be contacted and they all seem to respond as if they were unique individuals. The students are fairly active on the social platform and they do respond well. I do like it, but it’s not without it’s flaws.

The Caligula Effect Overdose Review
The Caligula Effect Overdose Review

For example, exploring the system further it’s soon quite obvious that it lacks any real depth. The ultimate idea behind “Casuality Links” is to add some side missions. These side missions are there purely for you to explore why each of these students are burdened with trauma.

Over 524 people want to have their traumas solved by you. The causality link system allows you to keep track whom you have or have not befriended. Solving people’s traumas will give you upgrades to your stats or will give you passive ability stigmas. All these missions to solve their trauma end up being simple fetch quests, proving that they are pretty much befriending you because they expect you to bring you something. You’re being used.

Again, this social system is an area where I thought could have benefitted from some extra development and it could have been an extra string to the games bow, so to speak.

The Caligula Effect Overdose Review – Graphics

Now, if you’re thinking the graphics could potentially save this gave from being a complete dud, you’re wrong. The overall art style and graphics are really quite boring. The key people behind the art direction completely misunderstand what it takes for the visual style to look and feel creative. The muted colours and restricted overall colour pallette really do nothing to enhance the game. It’s like they’ve looked up the rules for how to design a JRPG.

Every character design has a standard off the shelf look to them, they’re really quite dull and there’s nothing inspiring about the design at all. It’s like they’ve created a base set of 5 or 6 different assets and then pretty much just copy and pasted them, and then ever so slightly tweaked them.

The main characters aren’t even the worst offender. Your in-game enemies are worse, and by some degree too. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there not much of a discernible difference between any two enemies. The only differences I can notice without looking too hard, are the weapons that they carry.

The games sparsely populated minimalist approach to color leaves almost all of the deliberately washed out in grayscale tones. It could have been a good look that set The Caligula Effect apart from the sometimes too-busy aesthetic of its JRPG rivals.

This latest installment can’t quite hide the fact that the game’s origins stem from the awful Vita original. Character models lack detail, facial expressions and any personality at all. The worldwide assets have clearly had very little upgrades done to them. What’s so disappointing is that it wouldn’t take much for the developers working on the remake to touch up some of the assets or re-master them in HD. It’d then make for a much more pleasing on the eye game.

Graphical Differences On The Remake

I know I’ve just slated the graphics but in the interest of honesty and openness I want to discuss the improvements compared to the original game. The graphics are at least much better than the original PS Vita game. The PS Vita game regularly struggled to render the game’s battles at a decent framerate. When the remake came to the PS4, it at least fixed the constant frame dropping issue that many Vita gamers struggled with. The busiest cut scenes and battle sequences play quite smoothly now. With the addition of a vastly improved anti-aliasing feature and much better textures, the overall user experience is much cleaner and easier to read.

The graphical world assets do still look like they haven’t been messed with too much and would still look at home on the Vita, but the added power of the PS4’s graphics card enable it to run smoothly and process each polygon, it basically looks it’s best.

the caligula effect overdose ps4 review Sound Track

Spoiler alert, I actually quite enjoyed the sound track. Whilst the original game and the modern remake gameplay isn’t great, the soundtrack is almost the saving grace. I’m not saying go ahead and spend your hard earned cash on a game that’s awful. What I’m trying to get at, is if they’d have put as much effort into the original game as they did the soundtrack, this game might be much better than it is.

Let’s hope the developers can see the error of their ways and really take this game back to the drawing board. The soundtrack and interesting adult themes offer some promise, it just needs a better execution.

How Much & Where To Play

The best place to buy it, in terms of pricing is probably Amazon. It’s still around £50 on steam, which for a game like this is a bit expensive! Hit our Amazon affiliate link here to check the current price. You can also find it at your local CEX, however they aren’t always in stock.

The Caligula Effect Overdose Review Summary & Verdict

It’s quite poor to say the least. It’s a low budget game, but that doesn’t usually make a game bad. It’s just that the overall gameplay is poorly defined and executed. What’s more, the animations are really jittery. The game does try quite hard to tackle important subject matter; it’s written by the same person who worked on Persona 2, so if you liked what that game had to offer in terms of story and dialogue, then you’ll probably quite like what Caligula Overdose does, or at least, what it tries to do.

I’m just glad I only spent £6 on the game, because at £49.99 it’s a complete no from me. Either way, I’ve scored it a 5/10 purely because I quite liked the soundtrack and thought that the interesting adult orientated themes could be explored further. It’s just the execution that let it down.

Score: 5/10

The Caligula Effect Overdose Review
The Caligula Effect Overdose Review

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The copy of the game in order to write our The Caligula Effect Overdose Review was paid for by us.

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