When it was released in 2017 The Caligula Effect as exclusive to PlayStation Vita, many were surprised by the various similarities that this young IP presented with the much more popular Person. Not only because in the West they were distributed by the same publisher or for a concept that has some similarities, but also because the screenwriter he even worked on the first two historic episodes of the Atlus series. A few years have now passed since the release of the first chapter and the franchise is now in the hands NIS America, with a slight increase in popularity thanks to the remake for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch and even for a twelve-episode anime adaptation. In today’s review, however, we will tell you about his direct follow-up, The Caligula Effect 2, a production that takes up the concept by introducing new characters and settings.
Locked up in a false reality
The story of this second episode tells the gestures of a normal high school student who, for no apparent reason, begins to accuse of strange dreams of a life he never lived. A day like any other meets X, a VirtuaDoll who decides to share body and soul with the protagonist on duty. This strange girl thus explains that they are not in reality, but in un fictional world known as Redo, a virtual place where humans take refuge to escape their real problems. This is due to some important procedures such as the erasing of memory, possessing the identity that has always been desired and the spontaneous fulfillment of one’s desires. As heavenly as it may seem, a dark secret lurks in the shadows of this world and X’s task will be precisely to destroy it to save all the people inside. In short, a rather similar opening to what we saw with Mobius some time before.
the story then continues in a rather classic way, between enemies to face, new allies with which to continue in the adventure and a whole series of revelations linked to the past of our young protagonists. We would like to specify that the work in question can be played without ever having touched the first chapter, since there are only scattered citations on those particular facts. In any case, this being also a product that relies on its narrative, we prefer not to spoil the details of the misadventures faced by the second generation of Go-Home Club. Unfortunately, however, we must point out that the script fails to fully hit its target. In addition to being all too similar to what we saw four years ago, here the characters are particularly stereotyped, with personalities that seem to focus exclusively on a specific detail. Likewise, in this review we have noticed how The Calligula Effect 2 never stops argue about his moral and on the massage he wants to convey.
The intentions of the authors are certainly positive but, for how everything was written, the underlying message risks becoming more of a nuisance than anything else, especially given how many times it is remarked even in dialogues where the need was not felt. However, the difference shown by the personal problems of the characters and the loophole of digital life is surprising, thus demonstrating a dualism that begins to ask serious questions about the unfolding of events. The humor and the light tones that you breathe are also nice, with a pace that will make especially the adolescent audience smile. The publisher then preferred to keep the dubbing in Japanese, with a translation written exclusively in English. Although it is required to read a lot, the script does not use complex terms, preferring to use words that are not foreign to the younger generations and that can be easily understood even by our home gamers.
More of the same
One of the strengths of the original The Caligula Effect was his combat system, which, although not original, was able to wisely mix a minimum of strategic soul with that of a classic turn-based JRPG. The appreciated system therefore returns also for this second episode, without substantial differences or some kind of possible improvement. The player will find himself selecting an action of his choice among his attacks, spells, protections, objects or even moves. Each of them involves a period of time in which it is carried out, with the particularity that you can decide when to carry it out through a specific bar. The game also offers a visual of what could happen, thus giving the opportunity to exploit the enemy to catch him by surprise or dodge his future movements.
We must not forget the two special bars that, once loaded, allow you to carry out attacks with greater power. Everything works very well, even if it soon does proves repetitive and monotonous. Of course, in the course of the adventure new allies are added with their own special powers that increase in power based on the level they reach, but unfortunately the long frequency of the clashes and the presence of enemies that are too similar to each other leads to the realization of a produced with good playful ideas but without being able to apply them to the fullest. To tell the truth, this problem was already present in the first episode, which makes the decision of the Historia team even more incomprehensible, which preferred to follow in the footsteps of the past without trying to smooth out those corners that we already knew would be particularly angular. The however, the level of difficulty remains well studied, with an artificial intelligence that is not stupendous but that manages to test users already at a normal level.
In this review of The Caligula Effect 2 we noticed how the gameplay is divided into two main parts, the one previously described and the simple exploration. The latter is carried out within certain areas of this virtual world, such as the interior of a school or the botanical garden. In each of them it is possible not only to observe new events of the script, but also to accept side missions that will be entrusted to us by the various inhabitants of the place. As nice as it is to see some social interaction, in the end these activities prove too superficial and end up becoming more tedious than anything else. Our advice is to complete them continuously to the main story, without thinking too much about it. In these phases it is also possible to find lost objects, buy materials in shops and participate in the so-called character episodes. The latter are special films that serve to improve the relationship with the protagonist’s friends, observing more their personalities in everyday digital life. Definitely a nice idea, but in the end it adds very little to the entire ecosystem of the product.
There is even a detail hub world, or the colorful X express, where you can choose the destination, exchange the various currencies acquired and even listen to the soundtrack. Here, too, everything is extremely minimal, but it is a nice interruption compared to the rest of the whole experience. We even appreciate the commitment to do put the player in the role of the hero of the moment, as if in reality it was he himself who took refuge in this virtual reality. This is evident not only in the choice of one’s sex at the beginning of the adventure, but also in the possibility of choosing one’s own lines of dialogue. To tell the truth, the situations do not change much, but we still confirm the presence of two alternative endings inside the product.
An imperfect escape
A disgraceful mention should then be made to the dungeon, so linear and uninspired as to leave you speechless. The situations within them are scripted, finding the way is all too evident even within labyrinths and the search for objects is a disarming banality. Obviously these are then areas full of enemies, therefore suitable for evolving their warriors through the already analyzed combat system. Completely different speech goes instead to sound sector, which presents a multitude of Jpop-style music with an excellent interchange between the different versions available. For example we can listen to the sung version, the instrumental, the cover of the nice X and even some remixes. This huge variety definitely makes the soundtrack one of the parts best you succeed of the entire production, also reinforced by the excellent dubbing in Japanese that can be listened to with pleasure. Too bad for the mere presence of a track practically in continuous loop inside the dungeons which will become rather unnerving very quickly.
In this review of The Caligula Effect 2 we must, unfortunately, see how the game is is really uninspired even in the visual sector. The characters are well designed in the artwork, but in-game everything is represented in a bland, generic way and without any real attraction for the user. It certainly does not help the technical sector, which presents polygonal models and animations that seem to come from a low-budget portable console game. The first episode for PSVITA does a better figure than this, both in the purely artistic and in the visual sector. However, we are happy to see that the Switch version we tested does not present any frame rate problems or glitches of any kind, thus allowing Nintendo players to properly experience this adventure, unlike the previous port.