The Caligula Effect Overdose Review (Nintendo Switch)
The Caligula Effect: Overdose is a remade version of the PS Vita title The Caligula Effect, released back in 2016. Unfortunately, due to the original game being a Vita exclusive, Caligula Effect did not get as much exposure as it deserves. I am glad that the game has found a new home on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 & PC as this means many more people will get the chance to experience it. Overdose comes with visual enhancements and additional story content not present in the Vita version.
After selecting your name and gender (new to the remake!), The Caligula Effect: Overdose starts off with a rather nice animated cutscene, in an auditorium the main protagonist stands up on a stage in front of the other students about to give a speech only to realize something is very wrong. About a third of the other students seem to have their faces blocked by some form of digital corruption. Confused and freaked out our protagonist flees the auditorium. Outside he or she comes to an invisible wall noticing that they are inside some kind of simulation – This world is called Mobius.
Mobius is controlled by μ (pronounced Mu), a vocal synthesizer software & Pop-Idol. As the main antagonist of the game μ refuses to let you leave and explains that you are trapped. Noticing your reaction in the auditorium, a few other students rush out to explain what is going on. These students turn out to be a club whose goal is to break out of Mobius and return to the real world and they quickly assimilate you into their ranks.
A number of people in Mobius are obsessed with μ and are quite content under the control of their Idol μ. These brainwashed individuals called ‘Digiheads’ will do anything for their Idol including stopping you and other members of the aptly named ‘Go Home Club’ from finding a way out.
At its core the Caligula Effect: Overdose is a first-person dungeon crawler similar in concept to the Persona series this is probably due to the game having the same writer as Persona 1 & 2. The main cast is full of tropes but also varied enough to not get too samey. Much like Persona, there are social link style quests you can undertake to unlock more story about a character.
The sheer amount of characters in this game can be a little daunting (There is over 500) and you can interact with all of them through the Causality Link system. Unfortunately, a lot of these characters are quite bland when compared to the great main cast and they only real reason to interact with them at all is to fix their ‘trauma’ which awards you with an item. This is not integral to the overall story but, I bet would driver completionists insane. Luckily if you manage to miss some across the 30-hour story you can always try again in New Game Plus.
Combat blends turn-based RPG with real-time action. If you have ever played Resonance of Fate you will find overdose very familiar. Battles are played out right there on the spot, the area turns into an arena which means passing enemies can join the battle by walking into it. You select what attacks you would like to do and in what order from the menu, they then get added to a timeline and are executed in that order. Later on, as you gain more party members you will be able to chain together certain attacks, for example, you can have a character launch an enemy into the air and have another do mid-air follow-ups with a ranged projectile. Before each execution, you will get a chance to see how the attacks will pan out on the timeline which is very handy for chaining them together.
The maximum amount of party members you can bring into battle is four so I would suggest selecting some that have complementary skills. Personally, I really like this system for combat and I wish more games would use something similar, I felt like a master tactician on occasion after witnessing my party flawlessly put down some Digiheads! There is a risk and reward aspect to this system as sometimes a vital skill to your chain may miss and completely ruin everything you were trying to set up.
Overall the Caligula Effect: Overdose looks great and you can tell some enhancements have been made over the Vita version. Dungeon design can be a little repetitive however and some sections of them feel like they have been cut and pasted into different sections of the map. Anime cutscenes are really well animated and although there are only a few of them they do a really good job of getting the story moving. Enemy design, although animated well was a little repetitive and on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode looked a little fuzzy!
Voice acting is good, however, entirely in Japanese. This may deter some people, but, I think the target audience will not be alienated in the slightest. Music wise each dungeon has exactly one song and overall the songs are catchy and arguably one of the highlights of the game, however, there is one massive problem and that is the fact it is looped over and over again during the dungeon. Music kicks it up a notch while in battle and phases in Vocals which helps somewhat to alleviate the relatedness.
In Conclusion the Caligula Effect Overdose is a good game. It has a strong premise, but falls a little flat on the total delivery of the story. Don’t expect too many plot twists or over the top writing. The game does deliver in terms of gameplay & If you like Dungeon crawlers then this will definitely be for you! The battle system is unique and one of my favourite parts of the game, but overall it felt a little easy. If I was to play through again I would try a harder difficulty.