Ok lets get this out the way right here and now and say that YES The Caligula Effect: Overdose does indeed look like and at times feels like Persona in more ways than one from its visual aesthetics to the art style, overall themes and even gameplay feels like Persona………and that’s because its actually written by the man who wrote the stories for Persona 1 and the 2 duology as well as the Digital Devil Saga. The Caligula Effect: Overdose is an updated and extended remake of the PS Vita original that includes more characters, moves, items, music, and story elements to deliver a rounded out experience for PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
The plot of the game kicks into gear as soon as you start the game as you play as a self-named student in a Japanese high school who is standing at a podium amongst his peers to give a speech of some sort and then as he nervously looks around he sees that they are all changing into digitized monsters from the students to the faculty and he then runs away in fear with a few students that stand out from the rest that look onwards as if they are fully aware of whats going on. You’ll eventually find out that you are in a digitally created world called Mobius that was the creation of a virtual idol called μ (pronounced “Myu”) and that Mobius exists purely to make people happy. It’s an escape from the real world where people can live in complete bliss as the ideal version of themselves, their every trouble and worry forgotten. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that they must give up their freedom: majority in Mobius have no memory of the real world and are completely unaware of the true nature of this dream world. They live in devotion to μ, her music keeping them brainwashed but giving them absolute happiness so make of that what you will.
So your team of heroes are here to save the day and fight for virtue and morality in the name of friendship right? Well yes and no as they are more so shades of gray that debate the reasoning's of whether liberating the people of Mobius is the best thing to do or is allowing them to continue living in their blissfully ignorant existence with their freedom being the only cost. Given that you run into people who are awaken to the truth and are desperately wanting to return to the real world and are thus calling themselves the “Go-Home Club” as they will not rest until they are out of Mobius even if that means ruining the happiness that so many are enjoying including going so far as to kill a god and while μ is essentially a god who created Mobius to free the people from their pain and misery and bring them joy and isn’t at all an evil deity, the fact that the Go-Home Club are slowly but surely waking up people to the false reality of Mobius is in essence not only a threat to μ’s influence over the people but also is a threatens the very veil of illusion of the reality she has created and if they must kill μ and destroy Mobius, then the Go-Home Club is willing to do so and that leaves you to question if their desire and pursuit of happiness and freedom at the expense of others is truly morally right and justified thus making you question if the Go-Home Club are truly the heroes or in reality the villains of this tale. Again, the shades of gray are strong in this game and with that I will say no more of the story of this game as to avoid spoiling it. Well one thing I will say about this story is that the story delves into deep philosophical, sociological. and theological realms as it looks at the cause and effect of idolization, gender roles, the concept of beauty, as well as autonomy so yeah. Is the story generic? Not by a long shot.
You can play the game as it was in its original release where you’d only see the perspective of the Go-Home Club however in Overdose you’re able to meet μ and her right-hand woman, Thorn, and play the game as a new musician named Lucid of which will allow you to see the perspective of the Musicians and see that not every decision the Go-Home Club makes is truly just.
So how is the gameplay after that length exposition of the game deeply woven plot, well it plays a lot like Persona, no not modern Persona 3-5 (well somewhat), in the sense of the first and the duology of 2 as well as the Digital Devil Saga games. The game plays out in traditional turn based fashion, when a character’s turn comes up, the action freezes to give you ample time to choose your next command, but rather than playing out turn-by-turn, everything happens in real time. If multiple characters’ turns come up at once they’ll attack in together. There’s an unique twist to the formula with something called the “Imaginary Chain” which is In essence, a visualization of how your selected attacks (of which you can chain up to three per turn) will play out, while also letting you fine-tune the timing. With that, you can orchestrate complex combos that resemble a fighting game more than anything else: one character launches an enemy into the air, another follows that up with a multi-hit attack that juggles this now-helpless foe, and third hits them with a powerful blow that only works on airborne targets. Do keep in mind that the Imaginery Chain isn’t 100% how things will turn out so do leave room for variables. You will run into enemies called the “Digiheads” that basically are people who are so deeply troubled that their troubles break through to the surface causing them to become demonic monsters and are in essence a mental breakdown in physical form. An interesting feature is how you can beat the Digiheads and with the assistance of Aria (μ’s former ally) and use something called the Catharsis Effect in which they are able to release their psychological traumas of which you will be able to equip them as weapons to help you fight more Digiheads and the Musicians.
So are there any issues with the game following all the praise the games been given so far and how does this game look graphically on the Nintendo Switch? Well that’s where we run into some obstructions as on the Nintendo Switch this game has some funky aspects to it as if you play this in handheld mode then prepare for a lot of graphical issues of which make this game look like something you’d see on the original Nintendo DS and not the 3DS or even worse the original N64 with blurriness that honestly shocked me to see on a 2019 game even if it’s an updated remake of a 2016 game. The character models are blocky and the environments at times look incredibly bland and there is occasional slowdown and N64-era levels of fog and raw distance. Once your Nintendo Switch Is docked then these issues go away entirely, and it looks closer to Persona 5 in visual aesthetics and in motion which itself was a PS3 game originally. There’s also the lack of an English Dub which to me does bother me as I like English dubs and prefer hearing scenes voiced out rather than hearing a Japanese Dub and rushing to read what is being said in order to comprehend as well as gather the context of the situation the characters are in and boy is there A LOT of dialogue to read. The only other issue for me is the OST when going through dungeons as a lot of the music can be so repeatitive to the point where I mute the TV so as to not hear it anymore. Read into that what you will.
All in all, The Caligula Effect: Overdose is a very very good game that’s only caveat is that you dedicate time to it to allow it to suck you in as there’s so much to this game from the story to the gameplay not to mention the replayability but given that this game is dropping in a month packed with high profile release, it is my fear that this game will get pushed to the way side in favor of the blockbusters that are coming out. If you are a fan of JRPGs with unique gameplay, solid story, and a good OST (despite my earlier gripes), then this is a game that’s for you. It needs some patches to fix the graphical issues in handheld mode and to fix the repetitive music but otherwise it is a SOLID title that you should definitely pick up. The Caligula Effect: Overdose is KASANOVA APPROVED!