As someone who is really into JRPGs in general, I was really excited when I finally got the chance to play The Caligula Effect: Overdose on PC. Not only are there lots of areas to explore, with every character you interact with being very lovable, but the best thing is there is a relationship system within the game. That means you can befriend everyone and build up your very own harem!
While The Caligula Effect: Overdose turned out to be quite simple, regarding its gameplay and storytelling, it still managed to utterly entertain me.
The story resolves in Mobius, an unreal world which lets their residents forget about their painful life and allows them to live happily without any worries at all. Mobius was built by μ and although the world she created seems perfect at first, it is sadly far from perfect. Our hero, who is trapped in Mobius as well, suddenly noticed that the people there are somewhat weird, especially when their faces seem to change.
Evidently, he runs away as far as he can and while getting attacked he meets the fairy Aria who explains to him what was going on in this odd world. He teams up with a club called Go-Home as they try and find a way to escape Mobius and make their way back home together.
Areas to explore
In The Caligula Effect: Overdose, the areas are presented like dungeons, therefore there is a lot to explore. While you can more or less freely roam around, some areas are limited until you proceed with the story. In the so-called dungeons, there are people you can befriend by talking to them, as well as enemies who will attack you once you touch them. It is also possible to avoid the enemies at times and ignore the friendly people, so if you want to rush through the story, you can just set the difficulty lower and not spend time with tedious grinding to level up, nor collecting.
With that said, while there aren’t items available per se in this game, you can upgrade your skills, unlock new ones and even find them in as you play. A few skills are also locked until you have defeated certain enemies, as you obtain them upon elimination. Although the collectable skills are mostly needed for higher difficulties, it was fun collecting them and I found myself traversing long distances, just to find them.
There is also a map available in The Caligula Effect: Overdose which I found very useful as you have to go to specific places to continue with the story. These events are marked on the map, so it’s impossible to get lost. Although, I guess it is still possible to choose the wrong way given that the dungeons are set up as mazes and you will only be able to see its path once the area has been visited at least once.
While The Caligula Effect: Overdose looks exactly like your everyday JRPG, I found the combat absolutely unique and entertaining. It’s turn-based and real-time at the same time with additional mechanics. You can select an action with the characters and afterwards, there will be a preview of the fight. If the outcome satisfies you, the only thing left is to confirm it. Additionally, every attack has a different casting duration as some may need longer to be put into effect. However, I sadly often got too impatient to watch the preview every time and ended up skipping it very soon after starting The Caligula Effect: Overdose. I have to admit I found the preview very weird as you can even see and predict the enemies attacks which took away the excitement of not knowing how your enemy will react.
Due to my preview skips, I noticed that if an enemy died because of the attack of a party member, it has no effect when another member targeted the enemy as well. This means, even though I was way too lazy to watch the preview, the game kind of still forced me to do it as, in some situations, it was very inconvenient to waste attacks. Another feature I found a bit unnecessary was that the SP was refillable during combat via performing a recharge-ability, instead of an attack for a turn. I was surprised when I found this out as it made me wonder what the point of having SP was if it was so easily recoverable at any time.
I personally played The Caligula Effect: Overdose on the normal difficulty and I found it was still maybe a bit too easy compared to other JRPGs. Luckily, even if you find it too easy, it is possible to change the difficulty any time in the options.
WIRE and the Relationship-System
Now, there is a special feature called WIRE in The Caligula Effect: Overdose which kind of functions as a chat app. It’s possible to get access to this feature in the menu anytime and chat in the group chat and with individual friends or acquaintances. These special relationships can be acquired by talking to the aforementioned people within the dungeons or fighting together in a party. While I found it an interesting feature at first, it kind of gets overwhelming when you are trying to befriend as many people as possible as there are 500 NPCs you can talk to in total!
It was also a given that a lot of conversations will be very repetitive and get boring quite fast. Another thing I found unnecessary was that you could ask in the group chat what your mission was. Since it was visibly marked on the map, I never used this conversation option in the group chat either.
The worst thing about the WIRE was that there were only two default questions you can ask in the chat at a time, with the following questions being totally unrelated to the previous ones. It felt very out of place as the conversations were not tied to each other in any kind of way.
Additionally, it’s possible to unlock new side quests once you reach certain relationship status’ with the various NPCs.
Visuals and Soundtrack
The things I really have to praise about The Caligula Effect: Overdose are the amazing sprites and the catchy soundtracks. While the game contains voice-overs, except for the main character, sadly only the most important scenes are voiced. I found it quite confusing at times since some important scenes were left out as well. The game combines both real-time animations and effects seamlessly with videos when presenting the main story cutscenes; it feels like watching an anime.
However, the regular cutscenes tended to be sprites of the characters with their 3D models behind them to present the story. It felt very confusing to me that the style occasionally changed and some of the positions looked really weird, I also noticed some small bugs such as cloth and hair glitches. Other than that, The Caligula Effect: Overdose looks pretty much like your everyday JRPG.
While The Caligula Effect: Overdose seems like your typical JRPG, it tries to stick out with its unique features. Sadly, it failed to properly implement these features and there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Regardless, The Caligula Effect: Overdose was an incredibly enjoyable game for me and kept me invested for hours. The combat is fun and even though I didn’t make use of the unique features at all, I can still recommend it to anyone who is into the genre of JRPG as well.