Allow me to set the stage for what I am about to pass unto you. Imagine a world where a network, or matrix of computer connections, is a place where a virtual identity (say a doll) was to store people’s conscious beings within. Then some individual comes along and offers you a couple of choices. You can take the blue pill and continue on in your life as though nothing is different, or you can take the red pill and be awakened to the reality that you are not who you think you are and the land you live in is not what you think it is. Or was it the blue pill that woke you up? Who cares, the point is that the story sounds familiar. The Caligula Effect: Overdose is a Japanese RPG where that matrix is called Mobius (not Morpheus, but really close right?) and the overlord of this network is Myu, which is represented by a character that isn’t on my keyboard so I will copy and paste it here: μ.
I understand that many, like myself to a degree, really like this style of RPG. You have the overly cute anime girls and unassuming males plodding along through life during the ages of which someone would be going to high school. Whatever is ‘up’ with the Japanese for this… fetish; the story is definitely reminiscent of a movie with Keanu Reeves from the 1990s. If you are in high school right now, you weren’t born in that decade unless you suck at school or were held back for reasons that don’t have anything to do with sucking at school. I digress. What was the point? Oh, I didn’t have one. Never mind. Oh I know, you might be stuck in a Mobius and going through school over and over again in your own personal hell.
I’m not going to get into the story at all because spoilers suck as much as spending extra time in high school. Yet, the people in Mobius are kept in a High School state over and over again. In fact, if you’re interested in the story, there are a lot of sources where you can find out as much as you care to on the subject.
Digging right into what I liked about the game, I love the ideas behind the battle system. Without over-explaining, you get the choice to queue up three moves that will be played out in the battle arena with an estimate or prediction of how your choices could play out should you lock them in. I do like this feature as you do get to try different things to get an idea of what may happen. There is a lot to like about it and is definitely the strongest part of the game. The problem is that there is another part of the game that interferes with getting to your next battle. That would be building up rapport with other students in the high school who have little more to say than “Hey, I have a problem”, fade to black, “Thanks for solving my problem or giving me insight into my problem”. Repeat.
This wouldn’t be horrible in any respect if the conversations would add to the enjoyment of the game, however they don’t. It drags out an already tedious part of the game to the point where you may not really care whether or not you save any of them. Granted, some of them are worth saving. There are some who scold you for interrupting their life by trying to speak to them. Even by becoming a little hostile so far as to say “How dare you try to speak to me”. Well then, fry you jerk. See if I care.
The truly aggravating part of this lackluster large part of the game, is how long it takes to do nothing more than increase your rapport by a number with a student who is nothing more than a number. The best outcome is one sentence, fade to black, increase a number, then sentence and move on. Worst case is a half dozen sentences or more, fade to black, increase a number, and even more sentences that honestly I quit reading out of boredom. This just sets the tone for a pointless endeavor that I got over rather quickly. Sure, you can add them to your team, but that doesn’t really help in the overall success of your adventure.
Not even the fairly entertaining soundtrack can elevate this game to what I assume to be lofty goals of the design team. They have some neat effects regarding vocals fading in and out during gameplay. I would harken back to one of my favorite anime series of years back called RahXephon. To me, this was the perfect use of music in a story. I was a bit disappointed that the soundtrack or the use of music wasn’t more centric to the game itself. It felt like they took some decent tracks and just tossed them in here and there, but then played them over and over and over until you just got tired of hearing the same stuff. Something just felt off to me about it and it’s hard to describe exactly what it is. Like you experience it and you may just say under your breath “oh, that’s what the review guy was talking about”.
Lastly, the controls are frustrating and digital. I would like to be able to have at least a couple of speeds if I’m going to use an analog stick to move around. Using your left stick to move is a bit too fast to lock on to a pointless conversation with a high school student so it takes a few attempts to be able to face them enough to start the boring conversation. Tack onto this that the graphics aren’t anything special, if not a little bland and you have a JRPG, by one of my favorite game publishers, that you can pass up and not be the worse for it.
The Caligula Effect: Overdose Review
Final Thoughts: BAD
The most appealing aspect of The Caligula Effect: Overdose is the battle system which does a pretty good job at being fun for a few hours into the adventure. The game is bogged down by too many problems from boring interaction with NPCs and troublesome game mechanics to be considered something to invest your time or money into.
Jay has been an avid gamer since the Intellivision days. His hobbies include building PCs, 3D modeling and printing, and spending time with his children and dog.