The Caligula Effect’s Battle System Attempts To Make Battles Quicker

By Jenni . May 2, 2017 . 12:00pm

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The PlayStation Vita’s latest JRPG, The Caligula Effect, is your basic dungeon crawler with turn-based battles. As a member of the Go-Home Club, your avatar is part of the effort to find a way to escape the Metaverse μ and Aria, the virtuadolls, created to give people a peaceful place to live. Since μ took things to extremes, it’s up to people aware of the nature of the world to get out. This means exploring areas, fighting standard enemies, and defeating bosses.

 

The Caligula Effect’s dungeons have a mix of fellow students and enemies in them. The further you get in the area, the more hostile encounters appear. This is because the influence of the Ostinato Musicians and their μ music gradually corrupts people. When passing ordinary students in Mobius’ school and town, you will see their name, level, and a gauge representing their Erosion Rate. When this passes 50%, they will be an enemy. This means more foes as you travel.

 

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Evading these enemies usually isn’t too difficult. I noticed some would appear in rooms or open areas that you wouldn’t necessarily have to enter. This, combined with Risk rates telegraphed above enemies’ heads, lets you determine if you really want to mess with an opponent. You can try and trigger an early assault with the press of a button, but I noticed this feature was rather iffy in The Caligula Effect. It was difficult to gauge whether I was close enough for it to kick in, and sometimes it seemed like it was not fast enough to start a battle. IT was very iffy and less precise than similar advantage hits in other RPGs.

 

When a battle begins, all possible skills will appear in the Skill Reel. These include the Catharsis Effect attack skills and Battle and Effection Effect buffing and healing skills. You choose the order of the skills and can pick up to three in a row for each turn. After picking the first ability, you’ll see a brief animation called the Imaginary Chain offering a hint of how things will play out in battle after using it. This isn’t always accurate, as there were a few times it seemed like this didn’t show exactly how much damage would be inflicted, but it can help determine which combo would work or give some idea as to whether or not a powerful enemy would be wiped out. I can be handy to determine range, since some skills only work when an enemy is in the air or on the ground. You can use it to make sure the up-to-three skill combo will land properly. I felt like this helped with expediency, which becomes very handy the further you get in a dungeon area. When enemies start showing up around every turn and some battles feel like they rely upon the same exact combos to be completed, you want to get through them as quickly as possible.

 

If a The Caligula Effect enemy isn’t going to be defeated in one turn, perhaps because it is a boss-level character, you’ll need to start paying attention to its Risk. This is the increasing number above its head that grows as you attack it. When this maxes out and there’s a Risk Break, you can use better skills without preexisting conditions to deal more damage to the enemy. Again, this can help you get through a fight a little bit quicker and without having to meet any requirements. It lets you deal the kind of damage needed to make problems more manageable with a crew of characters you’ve been training for a while. Since so much time is spent battling and exploring uninteresting areas, you want to get through it all as fast as you possibly can.

 

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The one way where I felt like The Caligula Effect really stood out was with the Stigma Slot system. It’s as though you’re equipping personality traits to characters to increase abilities and occasionally add Passive Skills, which is rather novel. The Manifestos are basically weapons, and you can have two of these equipped. The two Core Beliefs are your armor. You start out with only one Traumatic Memory slot, but can eventually have two of these to act as accessories. While equipping the strongest ones for the moment are best, you’ll also need to shuffle these around and shift them to maintain and develop relationships with some of the other characters you’ll come across. Like Kasumi Matsumoto will require you to speak to her with the Sugar Coat Manifesto equipped to get Clarity of Purpose. Or you may add Honesty as your Core Belief to get Saori Arai to open up to you. It’s genuinely neat how your equipment can influence other elements of the game. Though, if you aren’t attempting to meet objectives for characters you might eventually want to add to your crew, it is always best to go with equipment that makes you as strong as possible. You know, so you aren’t dilly-dallying and wasting more time on repetitive encounters.

 

With The Caligula Effect, we have a mostly traditional, turn-based battle system that adds a few unique elements to give players a few more options when heading into each fight. The Imaginary Chain forecasts expected damage, while the Risk values let you determine an enemy’s strength before you engage them in a fight. By setting turn orders, managing Risk, keeping track of Erosion Rates, and monitoring enemy distribution, you can make dungeon crawling a little less tedious.

 

The Caligula Effect is available for the PlayStation Vita in North America. It will come to Europe on May 9, 2017.


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