The Caligula Effect: Overdose is a slightly adjusted experience set in a familiar world. People once again find themselves in Mobius, a virtual world created by vocaloid Virtual Dolls named Mu and Aria, except Mu has taken over and decided every traumatized individual living there must remain in the area and constantly relive their high school lives in a safe, idealized space. While a number of things have been added, the introduction might feel a bit familiar. This is true even if you choose to play as a woman.
In the original The Caligula Effect, there was no option to choose the avatar’s gender. Here, that is one of the first things Mu will ask you about when you come to Mobius. After you pick your name and avatar, you find yourself at the school ceremony for new and graduating students. (Given that people are in an endless loop, students who “graduate” as third years pretty much immediately reappear as the new first years.) As with a male protagonist, you are miraculously the class representative for Year 2, Class 2 students, complete with the same dialogue options for the possible “speech.”
It’s an indication of the time it might take for people to begin to notice differences between choosing an avatar, as well as other new elements in The Caligula Effect: Overdose. While there are some slight translation differences, people will really start noticing when interactions with other people become an option. In fact, one of the first few changes is, when Mu asks the protagonist what they might want, they could say, “A l-lover, I guess…” instead of the “A g-girlfriend, I guess…” response for a male avatar. Even the responses for when Aria asks what heartache in the real world caused you abandon the real world remain the same for both genders, as well as the ensuing weapon.
Rather, it is like these additions are teased. Within the first hour, as a player goes around attempting to find the Ostinato Musician producer Kagi-P at Kishimai High School, they’ll encounter one of the new heroines. You won’t actually learn her name just yet, but you’ll get a chance to see her and get an idea of some of the issues she is dealing with. Of course, NIS America and FuRyu have already noted this is Ayana Amamoto, who has an issue when it comes to dealing with men. However, when she first meets a protagonist who is a woman, she behaves normally, apologizes for running into you and getting flustered, and only panics when Shogo, another member of the Go-Home Club, appears. It acts as a hint of things to come, perhaps to let people know that while these introductory steps may seem largely the same, more is coming.
While people wait for the story elements and different interactions related to the character’s gender or new content to appear, they might notice some of the other updates. The character models and UI have changed. You’ll get to see how the flow of battle works, learn how to organize attacks with your first two party members Shogo and Kotone, and pick up the basics of dungeon-crawling. There will even be many students milling about, who the heroine can talk to and boost up to the level 3 Friend relationship tier. (These people all offer the same reactions to a heroine as they would to a hero.)
In its first moments, The Caligula Effect: Overdose remains true to its PlayStation Vita roots. The biggest new change is the ability to choose the gender of the protagonist. But even then, for the first hour, things largely remain the same. Your responses to Mu and other characters won’t be all that different if you choose to be a woman, rather than a man. However, as you start to explore the school and begin the game’s first arc, you will get hints of things to come. Ayana will make a first impression, and you’ll get a chance to see what might make your avatar a hero.
The Caligula Effect: Overdose will appear on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC on March 12, 2019. The Caligula Effect is immediately available for the PlayStation Vita.