The Caligula Effect Review: Show Me Your True Form

May 2nd, 2017 -

Picture it, just another boring day in high school. You are giving a speech, and suddenly you begin to see your classmates and the faculty around you change. Not in the usual “I’m unique and am deciding to be Goth today” kind of change either. Think more of a digitized face glitching out to the point of unrecognition. It’s concerning, to say the least. Turns out you’re trapped in a digital world called Mobius. How did you get here, and when did it happen? More importantly, how do you leave? These are all things that you decide you need to find out with the others that have awoken to the nature of the world.

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Yes I know; another game that focuses on the lives of teenagers in high school. Perhaps you’d be more forgiving of the nature knowing that it was written by Tadashi Satomi, who most famously worked on Revelations: Persona and the Persona 2 entries. If you were a fan of those, you’ll likely find something of interest here.

The Caligula Effect (originally just known as Caligula) is more or less a dungeon crawler. While you will have the ability to speak to and team up with over 500 NPC characters for battle, the focus of the game is combat. Don’t expect this to be on the level of Persona 5 by any means, with fleshed out day cycles, events, and palaces to wander. Especially with the characters – while you will learn about different problems they face, getting to that point is simply clicking through the dialogue as it’s the same between everyone. This is much more of a throwback dungeon crawler, albeit with some unique choices that make it stand out from others in the genre.

While wandering about the world, you’ll see lots of characters roaming the areas you visit. Mobius was created as an escape from the pain of the real world. Whether you hated real life relationships, struggled to finish your chores, or just couldn’t take the grief from your dead family, you were able to let all of that go here. Unfortunately, people don’t seem to realize this is the case, and in this world emotions run high. So much so that the true form of the heart creates a digital transformation of the world’s inhabitants. Without the help of Aria, a virtuadoll who helped create Mobius, the characters become corrupted and turn into digiheads. These are the enemies you will face.

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In the same way that characters have to accept their true selves in Persona, so is the case here to become valuable in a fight. When you meet up with the members of the Go-Home Club, no one else has the ability to fight. This is just as well, since they didn’t have Aria to make sure they didn’t turn corrupt. Opposite Aria is the other creator of Mobius, and her name is µ. She has stolen much of the power that Aria had, making her the size of a fairy. This is why she doesn’t have the power to regulate everyone’s emotions; only yours and those you choose to fight with. The songs of µ, while bringing happiness to the inhabitants, increase the corruption in their souls.

As this is a dungeon crawler, combat is the focus of the game. And once you gain the abilities of others, combat becomes really in-depth and time consuming. Initially you fight solo, which gives you a chance to learn the abilities at your disposal, as well as how the Imaginary Chain system works. You’ll have three types of skills you can choose from, each basically being attack, support, and defense. Within each of those categories you will have different skills to choose from, be it upping your SP which is used for skill usage, moving about the battlefield, or counterattacking an energy blast. Each character has their own specialties, including a focus on damage to downed enemies or those in the air, while others fit best in the support role. The game also provides you equipment in the form of Stigmas – crystalized regrets and emotions of people that existed. As these are typically negative in the real world, the stats are typically double-edged, and many will lower two or three things while boosting one or two. While this may all sound standard, it’s the next part that gets interesting.

The Imaginary Chain is a system that lets you more or less see how your decisions will play out. Think of the way Sherlock Holmes fights in the Guy Ritchie films. You choose your moves, you see how they’ll play out, and when you have multiple characters, you have the ability to layer the events. By that, I mean you can change when their moves will be executed in relation to your other teammates. For example, when you are first introduced to your second character, his main attack is best against downed or airborne enemies. The main character is able to launch an enemy into the air, which then leads to them being downed for a bit. Naturally, you wouldn’t want the secondary character to attack until the enemy was in this position, so you can move when he’ll attack in the timeline. Of course, plans do not always play out how we want, as there is a percentage of likelihood that it will not happen. Just think of the 95% chance that misses in Fallout and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

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Even with the addition of relationship building with an exorbitant amount of characters, the game is almost solely a dungeon crawler. While you’ll certainly be able to find characters you may relate to, don’t expect them to become major additions to the plot. The story that unfolds is, while a bit familiar, one that you’ll undoubtedly enjoy if you’re a fan of the Persona series, or the likes of Sword Art Online and even Digimon. I forgot to mention the games voiceover is all in Japanese, which is fitting for the game, and sounds pretty solid.

BUY

Pros

  • Deep, Imaginative Combat
  • Character Choices

Cons

  • Characters Can Feel Shallow

The Caligula Effect was developed by Aquria and published by Atlus. The game launched on PS Vita May 2nd, 2017 in the US and May 9th, 2017 in the EU for $39.99. The game was provided to us for review on PS Vita. If you’d like to see more of The Caligula Effect, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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