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Game Info:

The Caligula Effect
Developed by: Aquria
Published by: FuRyu, Atlus
Release date: May 2, 2017
Available on: PS Vita
Genre: RPG
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Teen for Language, Sexual Themes, Violence
Price: $39.99

Thank you Atlus for sending us this game to review!

A famous singer that goes by the name μ (Mu) felt bad about the troubles of many of her fans and created a virtual world called Mobius. In this world, there are no worries and many of the desires of the fans are fulfilled personally by their beloved pop idol. Unfortunately, some bad musicians have influenced μ and it’s now impossible to leave Mobius. Most of the residents are oblivious to the fact that this world is not real. Then there are the digiheads who are hostile digital beings that are formed from negative emotions. As long as you stay out of their line of sight, you don’t have to fight them.

The main protagonist, a male character that you get to name, realizes that something is not right at a school ceremony. The people there are digitized, fake, and don’t age. When the students graduate high school, they start over again as first year students. I’m not sure what it is with Japan’s fascination with high schoolers, but this game is no exception. When the main character runs off, he quickly meets others that want to go back to the real world. The students who long to go back are called the “Go Home Club.”

Going home won’t be easy as there are several powerful musicians that enjoy life in Mobius and don’t want it compromised. Each of these musicians must be brought back to their senses or beaten into submission to locate μ and convince her to let people leave if they desire to do so. There are many enemies and thankfully, you won’t have to fight them alone. You can pick and choose your three additional companions from the Go Home Club or from any of the five hundred NPCs wandering around in the virtual world.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Slow paced but interesting story; good music and (Japanese) voice acting; interesting battle system
Weak Points: Slow performance and some of the battles are choppy; drawn out fight scenes that you cannot skip or fast forward; easy bosses
Moral Warnings: Lots of swearing and blaspheming; violence; sexual references (teen pregnancy); self-mutilation; suicide; the option to fight against Lucifer; swimsuit DLC; fat shaming

Each of the characters, NPC or otherwise, have unique abilities, weapons, and fighting styles. Each person in the game also has emotional baggage that you can help them work on. Some of the issues involve lying or lack of confidence, while others are more severe and include suicide, teen pregnancy, and self-mutilation. In order to solve the problems of the NPCs and have them fight alongside of you, you’ll have to befriend them by talking to them a bunch of times. If that’s not tedious enough, some of the requirements for solving their emotional issues takes a lot more work. Often times you’ll have to befriend many of their friends, bring them an item, or invite them into your party to change their emotional state/abilities. In one case, I had to take a level four character and level them up to twenty. They must still have issues since I didn’t bother doing that. The Go Home Club member story arcs can quite often make conversation worthwhile. Extended or repeated conversations unlock scenarios both humorous and dark.

Besides the emotional issues there are lots of language ones as well. Pretty much every word but the F-bomb is used and there’s some blaspheming thrown in for good measure too. Instances involving blood is described, but not shown. The battles look brutal at times and some limbs get bent in abnormal positions.

While the battle animations look neat (and noticeably slow down the frame rate), they got annoying since they often continued on well after the foe was defeated and I couldn’t speed up or stop my party from attacking. Coordinating the correct attacks and counters with those of your teammates is crucial to surviving in this game. Many of the attacks only work if certain conditions are met and if they are not, you’ve wasted valuable special attack points (SP) that take a while to recharge. Some attacks only work on enemies knocked into the air while others are intended for grounded foes.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 49%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 1/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 3.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

When characters level up their attributes are automatically increased, but you can tweak them by assigning various attribute changing stigmas to them. Skill points are earned when leveling and can be spent on learning new skills like ultimate attacks, healing, and resurrecting abilities. Other party members can be brought back, but if the main character gets knocked out, it’s game over. Save points are plentiful and are usually available before entering a boss’ room.

Many of the areas you visit are rather complex and it’s easy to get lost in the numerous corridors despite the mini-map on the upper right hand side of the screen. Some of the areas are only accessible through one specific entrance out of ten or so. In a few instances you’ll have to re-visit an area multiple times and at higher levels. I found this out the hard way when I wandered into a higher level area with digiheads having fifteen more levels than my party members. Explore at your own risk in this game!

Scattered throughout the maps are higher level digiheads that can easily be avoided but they’re fun to pick a fight with to test your strength provided you recently saved. Despite playing on the normal difficulty, I found these higher level digiheads more challenging than the boss battles. They handed my butt to me more than the bosses which I always beat on my first encounter. In fact, I don’t think my level 30+ party took any damage in the final boss battle and that’s including the multiple forms.

In total I spent a little over thirty hours in this game and while it’s flawed, it’s still fun. Even though there are tougher enemies to beat including Lucifer and locked rooms to investigate, I have no urge to continue playing this game after seeing the credits roll. I liked the notion of helping emotionally hurting people; the problem is that it’s just too tedious to do so most of the time. While there are many dark moments, there are some laugh out loud ones as well. Given the various issues discussed, this is definitely not a title suitable for a younger audience.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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