Back in 2016, Atlas USA and FuRyu released JRPG The Caligula Effect by Aquria. The game came out for PlayStation Vita first in Japan, and then 2017 in North America and Europe. It was a disappointing title and both players and critics gave it mixed to average reviews. However, this year we have a chance to play the game again since its remake The Caligula Effect: Overdose was released a few days ago for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, while Japanese edition was released a year earlier for PlayStation 4.
The game takes place in the virtual world known as Mobius. It was created by the artificial intelligence “µ” (Myu) which has become sentient and controls the world. She trapped the people here who were unhappy in the real world giving them a chance to live in anime teenage high school life. But some people don’t want to live in the fantasy anymore and they form “Go-Home Club” which intends to find the way out of Mobius. Their opponents Ostinato Musicians are µ’s army who must stop anyone who tries to escape Mobius.
If you look at the original and the remake, you will notice that the latter was graphically improved. There were troubles with rendering on PlayStation Vita which is now taken care of thanks to the playable framerate. You can still notice that the game was made on Vita which means that this remake was more of a makeover than the completely redefined edition. But, nonetheless, it looks and feels much better than the original Caligula Effect. However, characters are not ideally characterized since they don’t have expression and very much detail in their animation. Also, it’s noticeable that certain aspects were made for lower resolutions.
Thanks to better graphics, the battle system has become easier to handle. Just like in the original, battles see Go-Home Club and Ostinato Musicians fighting each other in an almost real-time setting. Each character has three actions in each cycle which include both attacks and defense moves. Imaginary Chain allows players to preview the action since each move takes time to animate and you will see the timing on the grid. Adjusting the timing will allow you to arrange the actions for execution to the second.
But this becomes a little bit complicated when you have bosses and more powerful opponents. The thing is that their stats can override the outcome in Imaginary Chain so even if you saw your plan played out masterfully, it may not be. In a way, this makes the game more exciting but sometimes it can be frustrating as well. Also, you will notice that game has important battles and the ones that are there to spice up the things. In both cases, the battle system is the same so you will get annoyed when the low ranking battle takes up your time you could spend on doing something more important.
Characters lack depth and development, so that can blow off the narrative in certain cases although they interact nicely between themselves. Since each character is actually a real-life person who looks like a teenager here, their arc should have been more explored and carefully fit into the story. However, some important issues that the game would like to deal with are not highlighted enough. And this is disappointing because The Caligula Effect: Overdose had potential to really address some serious topic, but, unfortunately, they got lost in the bad execution of narrative.
This is far from a perfect game and it lacks a great deal to be excellent, but it’s good enough for JRPG fans to play. The story is very interesting and the basic idea was to deal with very important issues we face today, like having too much of everything, thus the name Overdose. But since the game was built upon the original, and not created from scratch, I guess that developer couldn’t do better. The good intention is here and you can feel it while playing the game, which says that this title still has a heart and soul somewhere but it got lost in trying to fix the original. Maybe if Aquria makes a sequel, we will see those intentions in their full glory.