The Caligula Effect 2 looks to follow on from the previous game in the series (and anime) as the story continues on PlayStation 4 & Nintendo Switch. Worth returning and helping others to escape back to the real world? Let’s take a look.
In the wake of μ’s downfall, the latest virtuadoll in Regret recreates Redo, a simulation in which people are trapped by their wish to forget or to run away from their lives. To escape from Redo, a group of awakened high school students re-establish the Go-Home Club to fight against Regret’s reign, with the help of μ’s daughter who forced her way into this dream world, and escape to the real world.
Having not played the previous game I was a little worried going in, but it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect, as even though events are referenced from before, this release has its own narrative that follows on instead of relying on previous information. The idea of people escaping reality to live a carefree virtual life is an interesting line to go along, especially when the reasons people choose this life start to come to light. The game delivers this story mainly through 3D dialogue sections and encounters, but there are also the occasional 2D dialogue events. You can generally get a feel on if an important event is coming up by the dialogue applied as 3D events are usually used for the more important sections.
The game has a clean & bright look to it for the most part, with a little bit of a haze and bloom to give the world a dreamy look that plays into the setting. Characters and foes look straight up pulled from anime, flamboyant idol characters included, with the highlight coming from enemies , battlegrounds etc. As the dream shatters and reality breaks through it crates cracks in the world, alongside what can only be described as ‘digital noise’, which looks pretty cool when the enemies start to corrupt as well. The audio plays into this with an idol BGM for the most part, new songs can also be unlocked and switched out during battle with some bonuses.
Performance is pretty good on the go with the Switch. Game resolution appears native and never really wavers with regards to framerate, but again docked is lacking. As is usually the case for me when reviewing Switch games, there doesn’t seem to be an improvement when docked, disappointingly looking like the same 720/30 as you get when portable. Still, one can’t fault the solid performance and overall graphical flourish too much.
In some ways Caligula Effect 2 is structured like your typical JRPG. There’s usually a dungeon to get through and bosses to tackle throughout and at the end, with regular foes to stagger with a kick in between save points. It does try some different things with its combat system that is kinda turn based but kinda not, and a couple of additional tweaks to character building. The main one would be the Stigma system which allows you to swap out an aspect of your characters ‘personality’ for another, which changes up the character stats and can grant different abilities – though its best figuring out the suitable class for it instead of just putting them on anyone. These stigma can also be mastered, something that can add passive skills to the character equipped on as well as offer up even more moves to use in battle.
As noted before the battle system used here isn’t quite one thing or the other. You pick your move as usual but then it takes a turn into uncharted territory by giving you a glimpse of what is going to transpire before you confirm the action. The big upside to this is that you can also see how your enemies moves will play out at the same time, giving you the chance to change things up and counter or defend. To be honest, as someone that generally grinds levels more than they should, it wasn’t really something I made much use of during my time with the game. It certainly helps for the boss battles & occasional powerful foe you cross as that’s when the difficulty usually spikes too, but the general fodder are easy enough to cut through without having to skirt around their attacks.
Caligula Effect 2 certainly has some stuff going for it, the world & themes are interesting and there’s some tweaks to the usual turn based formula to keep it engaging – but there’s something that kept niggling away at me the more I played. Even with these interesting aspects it just doesn’t feel like it does enough to truly draw you into its world, which can lead to your interest for the journey gradually being eaten away as you progress. There’s definitely a decent JRPG to play through here either way for fans of the genre seeking a portable adventure.
A worthwhile adventure that doesn’t seem to go the extra mile to keep you fully invested.