In the original The Caligula Effect, we were presented with a world where nothing was what it seemed. In order to help people escape their traumas, the virtuadoll Mu is maintaining a virtual world and high school, where everyone can be students who never graduate. People are presented with a lot of party members at once, perhaps not having a chance to really identify with people. Especially since some of the character designs might look similar at an initial glance. With The Caligula Effect: Overdose, we have four new characters who all have this distinct atmosphere and personality that makes a more immediate impression.
With Ayana Amamoto, Eiji Biwasaka, Kuchinashi, and Stork, each one is distinct visually, in terms of personality, and with their initial introduction. For example, when people meet the Go-Home Club for the first time, you are expected to remember multiple people at once, and one of the most distinct initially is Shogo. Others can fade in and not get a chance to stand out until character episodes or you have a chance to really spend time with them in the story. For example, the female protagonist, Mifue, and Suzuna all have the same sort of look, with similar hairstyles, colors, facial features, and uniforms. Once you do get to know everyone, they absolutely stand out and have their own issues that make you feel for them, but there may not be this sense of immediately knowing or getting a hint about their nature. The four newcomers have it.
Ayana is one of the best examples, and one who is easy to cite without proving too many spoilers. She is terrified of men. She hates and wants nothing to do with them. If a man comes near her, she will lash out and run. When we first meet her, especially as a female character, she is absolutely fine. Ayana is charming and congenial, but it is like a switch is flipped. Initially, it might seem comical. She barrels over Shogo. She seemingly flees to Sweet-P’s tea party area, because it is a girls only affair. However, the intensity from the tea party onward is compelling and suggests something more. It might make you want to learn more.
Eiji is in a similar situation. Like Ayana, players meet him while searching for the first Osinato Musician, Kagi-P. He’s at the classroom people headed for with Naruko, back when she was certain Kagi-P was a third-year student. Immediately, he’s established as some sort of star. Naruko thinks he’s so handsome,she wants to get pictures of him. Kotono says he’s a valedictorian. He’s humble and says that he just worked hard to get where he was. It also seems like he might be smart enough to know things aren’t right in Mobius, as he asks about the Go-Home Club, but not in the way the more unhinged students do right before they are about to attack. Simply put, he seems perfect and like there’s this sense he knows things, and it could make someone want to know more about how he got that way.
While the two new Musicians are in positions where knowing too much could be a spoiler, both of them make a mark long before we get to actively engage with them in The Caligula Effect: Overdose. To start, before we really get to see and know these villains, we see silhouettes and get fleeting glances of them talking with their leader. Both Kuchinashi and Stork have these immediately recognizable masks. They stand out from the other Ostinato enemies physically, even though their initial lines aren’t too indicative of their personalities. Once they do make more of an actual impression and get more screen time, they have the same sort of presence as Ayana and Eiji. Kuchinashi is the most subdued of the four, but still. There is this sense that these two are notable.
The Caligula Effect has some gameplay issues, which return in the updated version, but what both games do well is provide a story that has flawed characters desperately seeking an escape or ready to accept the trauma holding them back. The four new major characters who appear can sometimes feel like they deliver more of that. They do a better job of attracting interest and establishing themselves early on. Their personality beats come through a little quicker, perhaps making it easier to suss out who they are and figure out their situations. They are a little more compelling.
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.