It’s no secret that new heroine Qatherine (Rin for short) is the biggest addition to Catherine: Full Body, but with a game with a plot as tightly-knit as Catherine was on the PlayStation 3, does Rin’s presence add or detract from it?
Within the context of the story itself, Rin is meant to be a “third option” for Vincent to choose. Each of the heroines involved with Vincent is meant to suggest a different lifestyle for him, but while Catherine and Katherine represent a life of freedom and a life of order for him, Rin’s doesn’t belong anywhere on this scale in between. While the original Catherine had a ‘True Freedom’ ending that has Vincent leave town on a space journey of self-discovery by his lonesome, Rin’s is on a similar note, but focusing on accepting Vincent as who he is now, rather than any big changes to his values.
In a way, this is a different sort of “freedom”, and one Atlus presents as an extra choice for our unlucky protagonist. It’s even presented in-game as a third option that breaks the standard bar that swings between Catherine and Katherine’s routes, signifying a shattering of the norms (in various ways), eventually budding into a brand-new, wild, possibility. But the problem lies in that Rin just doesn’t mesh well with the existing cast, in various ways.
For example, this version of the game begins with Rin running into Vincent while running away from a monstrous stalker, right before the opening movie. It makes you think she’ll be an instigator of change within Vincent, and be significant in the story itself. This isn’t the case. Before the big choice, Rin’s presence amounts to Vincent talking to her at the Stray Sheep and in the Nightmare World, and the other guys making a reference to her plight of amnesia and a stalker. They don’t even share any scenes with Rin apart from the establishing moments. Rin will even disappear from the story if you don’t go into her route by Day 6, which is disappointing. The game will just treat her story as done and you’ll go through a 1-1 retread of the original Catherine, and doesn’t seem to even mention her at all.
Stylistically, she also stands out from Vincent’s motley friends, partially because Vincent only met her a few days before the beginning of the game’s plot. Apart from her pink hair and rather unusual angel wing-patterned dress, she never really shares any scenes with Vincent’s friends, despite working at the Stray Sheep bar just like Erica. While Catherine’s cutscenes utilize conventional anime appearances to provide crazy reactions for Vincent and the crew, their scenes feel grounded and realistic; meanwhile cutscenes with Rin fall into the “very anime” category, with tropes like her falling onto Vincent’s face, and Vincent displaying more exaggerated body movements as well.
I found it detrimental to the story and grounded tone, though obviously Rin and Vincent have their sweet moments of understanding and acceptance that drove me to go through Rin’s story the first time around. Her route (without going into spoilers) goes into some aspects that were slightly explored in the original Catherine, and goes full ham with the fantasy aspect of Vincent Brook’s world.
In a way, Catherine: Full Body follows Atlus’ trends of remakes of adding new elements in recent years – adding Rin feels like how they added new character Alex to Strange Journey Redux that expands the endings you can get, while playing Rin’s route grants you a 10th day of trials to go through, similar to Devil Survivor: Overclocked.
Gameplay-wise, Rin acts as an extra aid for new players of Catherine: Full Body. You find out early on that she appears in the Nightmare World just like Vincent and the other sheep, and she is found playing soothing piano music that story-wise provides motivation for the sheep to live on. This manifests in the gameplay as a “last chance” mechanic that makes blocks fall slower when she plays the piano, which activates when Vincent is near the row of blocks about to fall. It’s only there to help players get used to the game, and as she completely disappears from the Nightmare World later on (except on her story route), players will need to survive without Rin.
Overall, Rin’s character and route is a sweet and sentimental story of chasing new possibilities and acceptance of who you are instead of letting others impose their values on you. I just wish that Rin felt more intertwined with the overall game instead of feeling like an alien presence to the chummy cast of the Stray Sheep.
Catherine: Full Body will be released on the PlayStation 4 on September 3, 2019 in North America and Europe. The Persona 5 Character Joker and Phantom Thieves Commentary Set will be sold separately after launch. It is immediately available on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in Japan. You can read our first playtest of the game, focusing on the gameplay, here.