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The Caligula Effect - GoingSony Review

The Caligula Effect launches digitally on the Playstation Vita later today, and Atlus has been kind enough to provide me with a review code. So be sure to give it a read if your interested. Those with little time can find a very brief overview of my general thoughts at the very bottom. 

The Caligula Effect is a Japanese Role Playing game developed by Aquaria for the Playstation Vita. It stars a group of high schoolers who have to track down and defeat a group of musicians in order to escape a virtual world. It offers turn based combat, but with a cool twist, and social link gameplay akin to Persona. It has it's ups and downs, but it is certainly not something RPG fans should ignore.

The combat of The Caligula Effect is really where this title shines the most. It is built on a combo system where each party member is simply a piece of a larger puzzle. In many RPGs, each party member will mostly act on their own, save for healing, etc. But in The Caligula Effect, thinking of your party members as a whole is key to success.

For example, some actions are only effective when the target is thrown up into the air, and others won’t land at all if the enemy is on the floor. I will often have my first party member execute an action to knock the enemy up into the air. After that was set, I followed with my two heavy hitters using actions that did more damage if their target was airborne. And to finish, I set my final party member to use a move that would land when the enemy had fallen to the floor. It feels awesome when pulled off correctly. And the neat thing about all of this is that I was able to punch in all of those actions, and then hit confirm to watch it all play out at once. Meaning it has the depth of your standard turn based combat, but the flash of a live action title. It is actually very satisfying to watch.

But the battle system is not without it’s flaws. It does have the depth that makes it rewarding, but some aspects can also make it frustrating or confusing. Like I mentioned, the whole system revolves around using every party member’s actions in a way that allows them to combo off of each other. This means that the order in which they are actually used is very important. I normally had no issues, but there were moments when things started to get a little messy. To be specific, sometimes the order in which I set my party members to act gets thrown off, which is made worse by the fact that their arrangement can't be changed in battle. And because of how important the order the skills are in, things quickly fall apart if the player is unable to combo correctly. There are some tools provided to help with this problem, but they are often not enough. 

Another touted feature of The Caligula Effect is the social element. As a high schooler, the protagonist is in contact with plenty of other students. Players can talk with all of them in the game, with an exception to enemy characters, to develop a bond. The concept of this is great, and when done correctly can be very compelling. Unfortunately, that is not the case here. Talking to other classmates is a very generic experience. In most cases they all just say something very similar to each other, and then their social meter goes up. That is it. Full conversations are few and far in-between. What makes this worse is that the overall character design, including the main characters, is fairly dull. I feel quality over quantity would have worked much better for this game, and maybe been more of a motivating factor in recruiting new people. 

I won't go into too much detail regarding the story, as I don't want to spoil anything, but I certainly enjoyed the story a lot more than I thought I would. I'll be honest, the whole "singer idol" theme of the game isn't really my style. But I was able to look past it and enjoy a story that is actually a little dark.

The Caligula Effect has it’s fair share of weaknesses, but they weren't so glaring as to ruin the experience. The deep battle system, and intriguing story do more than enough to make up for the missteps. I will say however, that will a little more polish, The Caligula Effect could have been something really great. It’s no Persona, but it is definitely something worth looking into if your a fan of the series and looking for a reason to dust off your PS Vita. 

My favorite thing about The Caligula Effect:

  • The battle system. Yes, it can get frustrating at times, but it offered a good amount of depth and was very satisfying when working correctly. 

My least favorite thing about The Caligula Effect:

  • Social links. I really liked the idea of being able to interact with other students in a meaningful way, but The Caligula Effect simply doesn't pull it off. Talking with other characters is very uninspired, and has an almost lazy implementation. 

EDGE - Issue 306 Review Scores


Yooka-Laylee – 6

Mass Effect: Andromeda – 7

Little Nightmares – 8

Snake Pass – 7

The Sexy Brutale – 8

Outlast 2 – 5

LEGO Worlds – 6

Everything – 7

Korix – 7

This Week's Famitsu Review Scores


Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders (PS4) – 7/7/7/7 [32/40]

Attack on Titan: Escape from Certain Death (3DS) – 8/8/8/7 [31/40]

Cup Critters (3DS) – 5/5/5/4 [19/40]

Cup Critters (Wii U) – 5/5/5/4 [19/40]

Dangun Feveron (PS4) – 7/7/8/8 [30/40]

Koi (PS4) – 7/7/8/8 [30/40]

Little Nightmares (PS4) – 9/7/8/9 [33/40]

Owari Sekai to Birthday (PS Vita) – 8/8/8/9 [33/40]

What Remains of Edith Finch - Review Roundup


Polygon:

In What Remains of Edith Finch, death is a certainty and life is the surprise. Its stories are enchanting, despite their unhappy ends. I was sad I never had the chance to know the Finches while they were alive, but thankful for the opportunity, however brief, to learn a bit about them. The final farewell left me crying, but What Remains of Edith Finch is, without doubt, love.

Destructoid:

Edith found exactly what she came for: The reasons for all those early graves. This family tree is rooted in tragedy and suffering and loss. It's no great surprise that all the branches broke off. That might be fascinatingly grim for us, but there's also the unmistakable feeling that we're more shook by it than Edith is. Sadly, she's a Finch and that means she had gotten used to it long ago.

Eurogamer:

But the broader message, of the power stories can hold over generations and the way in which those stories can be not only instructive but also restrictive, is fully earned. This is studied, careful world-building and storytelling, and the spell it succeeds in casting is quite unlike that of any game that has come before.

Gameinformer:

Narrative is an important part of many genres, but for games focused solely on interactive stories, it is the pillar that bears the weight of the entire experience – a burden What Remains of Edith Finch handles deftly. Giant Sparrow devised innovative tricks to pull players in, making them more active participants in the significant events. The Finches’ final moments are diverse and sometimes disconnected, but they have a thematic consistency running through them, so the tale builds on itself and delivers a compact and memorable experience. Juggling multiple perspectives and thoughtful reflections, What Remains of Edith Finch is an excellent example of what makes games unique as a storytelling medium.

Gamespot:

Developer Giant Sparrow managed to strike the delicate balance between joy and sorrow in 2012's The Unfinished Swan, but What Remains of Edith Finch transcends even the latent sadness of that game, finding the beauty--even sometimes the fun--in what's always fundamentally a tragedy. It's not often that a game's plot slips past the bitterness of grief to finally get to the acceptance, but that's the triumph in What Remains of Edith Finch. Ultimately, if the game has any resemblance of a moral, it's that the bravest, most beautiful thing every one of us does is choose to keep going, despite knowing what's coming.

Puyo Puyo Tetris - Review Roundup


Some of these are for the Switch version of the game, but I felt they were still worth posting as the game is also a PS4 title. 

Destructoid:

Puyo Puyo Tetris is one of the best puzzle games I've ever played, not just because it's based on two mechanically sound, battle-tested puzzle philosophies, but because it goes all out and doesn't leave any room for an "extended edition." Grab it, take it on the go, and preach the gospel of Puyo Puyo.

God is a Geek:

Puyo Puyo Tetris is a great puzzle mashup game with loads of game modes and a robust online mode offering a fun experience.

US Gamer:

While not the best game in either series, Puyo Puyo Tetris is still a great combination of two puzzle classics. Sometimes going together like peanut butter and jelly, other times more like peanut butter, and uh, something that doesn't go with peanut butter. All in all, a worthwhile addition to the slowly growing Switch library (or PS4 library, if spontaneous on-the-go multiplayer is not your jam).

Digitally Downloaded:

For all its wealth of content, Puyo Puyo Tetris does rely on developing and then maintaining a strong online community for truly long-term value. As a local multiplayer game, you’ll be glad to have it around for the parties, and it’ll help plane trips and other long travels fly by in a snap. Get hooked into the game’s steep learning curve online, however, and you’ll have a game that you’ll be playing for months, if not years, and not once, for even the briefest second, will the game lose its charm.

Outlast II - Review Roundup


Polygon:

Outlast 2 may be the single most qualified recommendation I’ve given in my history of writing reviews, and not just because of its occasionally stilted design. This is a game that often left me feeling like complete trash. It brought up some of the most difficult memories in my life, issues I had buried long ago. My reactions to that anguish have run the gamut, but more than anything, I respect that Outlast 2 has the singular focus and intensity to dredge up those emotions; that alone made it worth the time spent for me.

Destructoid:

Outlast 2 is harrowing. It is a horror game that will make you want to take a shower after you’re done with it. It’s a horror game that will make you want to hold your loved ones just a little tighter next time you embrace them. It’s a horror game that will scare you in the moment with shock and gore, then haunt you in the middle of the night with its ideas. And isn’t that what the best of horror strives for?

Gameinformer:

Outlast 2 asks more questions than it answers, and too much is left to your interpretation. This ambiguity might have worked, but it makes the conclusion unsatisfying. Even with its hiccups, it is nonetheless an intense ride that makes you question your sanity. If gory thrills are something you seek, Outlast 2 provides plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat as long as you can look past the clumsy storytelling.

Hardcoregamer:

Developer Red Barrels has offered an excellent step in this universe with Outlast 2. Choosing a different environment and adapting to those settings to help create a truly terrifying experience was successful. Adding some narrative to the game is a step in the right direction. The linearity of the game is detrimental, but does not kill the experience. 

Press Start:

Outlast II is a marked improvement over the original Outlast in almost every way. It’s still scary, yet utilises smarter designed scares to keep the tension high from beginning to end. The story is bound to be controversial, given the themes it tackles, but will easily demand and keep your attention from beginning to end. First person indie horror as a genre has lost its vision over the years, but Outlast II firmly stands tall as one of the best examples. It’s absolutely terrifying and a staunch improvement over the original.

Little Nightmares - Review Roundup


Destructoid:

Little Nightmares could use better pacing, perhaps more build-up in the first chapter, but even in its calmer moments it retains your interest with its macabre world and simple yet goosebumps-inducing gameplay. You constantly feel like a crippled gazelle limping around a lion's den. I'm excited to watch others play and panic the way I did.

Eurogamer:

Media Molecule protégé Tarsier turns in a masterpiece of meat and malice, swiftly consumed but with a lingering aftertaste.

Polygon:

Little Nightmares worked its way into my dreams because it's just bright enough, just safe enough to make me let my guard down. The game isn’t always successful at balancing some game design fundamentals. But when the lights went out, it left me remembering that, really, I'm just a small thing in a dangerous world myself.

Videogamer:

Little Nightmares is frightening, in a way that gets under your skin. A way that whispers in your ear that you won't sleep well tonight. Little Nightmares takes things you were afraid of when you were a kid, and reminds you you're still afraid now.

This Week's Famitsu Review Scores


A Clockwork Ley-Line (PS Vita) – 8/8/8/8 [32/40]

Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultimate Mission X (3DS) – 8/8/7/8 [31/40]

Drawn to Life (PS4) – 8/8/8/8 [32/40]

End Sleep (PS Vita) – 6/6/7/6 [25/40]

Exile Election (PS4) – 8/8/8/7 [31/40]

Exile Election (PS Vita) – 8/8/8/7 [31/40]

Flinthook (PS4) – 8/8/8/8 [32/40]

Gun Gun Pixies (PS Vita) – 7/8/7/7 [29/40]

Hana Saki: Work Spring! (PS Vita) – 7/7/7/7 [28/40]

Kero Blaster (PS4) – 8/8/7/8 [31/40]

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch) – 9/9/9/8 [35/40]

Song of Memories (PS4) – 7/8/7/7 [29/40]

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (PS4) – 7/7/7/7 [28/40]

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Switch) – 7/7/7/7 [28/40]

The Silver Case - PS4 Review Roundup


Keengamer

If, like us, you're rabid Suda51 fans, then consider The Silver Case a must-buy. The influence of it on later titles like Killer7 are visible almost immediately, and the story is yet another example of how Suda51's versatility is unmatched. If, however, you've only ever played the lovably wonky No More Heroes series, but think the idea of a visual novel sounds dreadful, then you may have to pass on this one. Unless, of course, you'd like Grasshopper Manufacture's other quirky titles to get re-releases (or better yet, sequels!)--then you ought to do yourself a favor and give The Silver Case a try.

Dualshockers

Exclusive to the PlayStation 4 version are two extra chapters that I refrain from going into detail with for fans who are planning on returning to the game after playing the PC version. What I will say: it must have been fun and exciting for the developers to go back and create these extra chapters. Both chapters feel very real and authentic to a game that released almost 20 years ago. I imagined what it would be like to play the game without these chapters and I could honestly feel like something is missing.

Digitally Downloaded

The Silver Case adopts a similar spartan approach to storytelling as L.A. Confidential. It’s a visual novel that covers a lot of ground by keeping embellishments to a minimum, emphasising the key moments with vivid, often shocking, imagery. The mastery of the storytelling lies in that, despite the minimalist approach to the text, the characterisation is superb, and each and every character has their own distinct personality. You won’t like all of them; this is a noir tale, after all, but you’ll be left with no sense that any of the game’s characters are dry.

This Week's Famitsu Review Scores


88 Heroes (PS4) – 7/7/8/9 [31/40]

Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PS4) – 7/7/7/8 [29/40]

Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition (3DS) – 5/6/7/5 [23/40]

Darknet (PS4) – 8/7/7/8 [30/40]

Dungeon Travelers 2-2: The Maiden Who Fell into Darkness and the Book of Beginnings (PS Vita) – 9/8/7/8 [32/40]

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS) – 9/9/10/9 [37/40]

Minna de Waiwai! Spelunker (Switch) – 7/6/7/9 [29/40]

Pro Yakyuu Famista Climax – 9/8/9/9 [35/40]

Revenant Saga (PS4) – 6/7/8/6 [29/40]

Revenant Saga (PS Vita) – 6/7/8/6 [29/40]

Revenant Saga (PS3) – 6/7/8/6 [29/40]