The Caligula Effect: Overdose (Review) Nintendo Switch

The Caligula Effect: Overdose (Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

The Caligula Effect: Overdose by developer Aquria is essentially a remake of The Caligula Effect, a Japanese Role-Playing Game that first released on the PSVita in Japan back in June 2016. The game would eventually see a release in both European and North American territories by May 2017. A Playstation 4 release would launch roughly a year later, but with additional in-game content. This ‘content’ made the transition to the Nintendo Switch version of the game (more on this in a moment).

The game’s story is set inside the virtual world of ‘Mobius’, a virtual network that was created by u and Aria (a virtual doll) to help people escape from the pangs of life. Unfortunately, most of the people sent to this ‘High School’ paradise are forced to relive the same three years for all eternity. As the game’s protagonist, the player must join forces with the Go-Home Club to explore the digital world of Mobius; battle DigiHeads (students enslaved by u’s music); and ultimately find a way back home.

Like its Playstation 4 counterpart, TCE: Overdose for Nintendo Switch contains the original game and the extras that fans remember, including the addition of a female protagonist; 6 new characters;  and a ‘Forbidden Music’ route where the player can be a double agent between the Go-Home Club and the Ostinato Musicians (a group of teens chosen to ‘create’ music for the game’s villain), to name just a few. 

Gameplay is divided between the free-roaming environment of the high school and the turn-based mechanics of combat. Like Persona/Shin Megami Tenshi, the bulk of the game is centered around the school and  exploring its many classrooms and hallways. While somewhat redundant, some missions have the player investigating class rooms for clues (i.e. discovering notes written by students) and speaking to specific NPCs. The mini-map – which is located in the bottom-right corner of the screen –  contains event markers related to the story. While its important to reach these markers, the game encourages the player to investigate their surroundings.

In addition, the player can spend a considerable amount of time befriending fellow classmates. Once the player speaks to a student and becomes ‘acquainted’, the game will add this student to a Social Media app known as ‘Wise’. This app can be used to communicate with these acquaintances by sending them private messages. If the player stays in contact with these students, they will eventually become ‘friends’ who can then be used as party members. It’s not always easy to make friends, though. Students have an Erosion Rate that declines over time. When a student’s erosion reaches 50% or higher, they become a Digihead. The only way to free a student from their Digihead bondage is by defeating them in battle.

Combat is initiated by coming in contact with enemy NPCs (i.e. DigiHeads) who populate the school’s hallways. The combat system is separated into three phases: Actions, Imaginary Chain and Executing Actions. During the Action phase, the player can choose different skills to  inflict damage on the enemy, or use ‘Support’ moves to buff, debuff  or heal allies (when they’re present). The Imaginary Phase is where the game shows an anticipated ‘outcome’ based on the attacks the player will make. The game warns against using this feature to predict the outcome of battle, especially if a party member’s ‘Hit Rate’ is low. The player, instead, should use this feature to carefully plot their next course of action. Otherwise, it could lead to a missed opportunity that can leave the player’s team vulnerable to attack.

When the player wins a battle, their party gains XP (i.e. experience points) to level. When a level is achieved, the party member in question gains a Skill Point. By selecting ‘Skills’ from the main menu, the player can view the skills their character can learn or the ones that have already been learned. For a party member to learn a new skill, they need to be at the minimum required level and have enough Skill Points available. Along the way, the player’s party will also obtain Stigmas, which are divided into three categories – Attack Impulse, Defense Instinct and Amplification.  Attack Impulse increases Attack and Accuracy; Defense Instinct raises Defense and Hit Points; and Amplification boots SP and Critical. Stigmas are abilities/skills that are earned during the game, and they are sometimes limited to a single playthrough, including some boss battles. Some of these Stigmas include, but are not limited to – Confidence, Silence, Affirmation and Friendly Feelings, among others.

Aside from leveling and gaining new skills, Overdose also includes a ‘Personality’ system that monitors the behavior of the player’s party. The personality of each party member can be viewed from the main menu’s ‘Status’ screen. The Personality screen shows the nature of each character, and it also displays parameters that best suits them. Even though the personalities for each character is decided from the beginning, the player can help shape these personalities by resolving any concerns these NPCs may have.

Graphically, The Caligula Effect: Overdose is a mixed bag depending on the location. For example: the sterile, hospital-like appearance of the school is the result of texture-less, white walls and a brown wooden floor. The combat sequences – on the other hand – use flashy colors, unique textures and odd-looking background scenery that look like they were plucked from the 1982 film Tron by Disney. Even more interesting is how the game performs in portable mode. While investigating the school, the game manages to maintain a rock-solid 30fps. This is also expected of combat, but unfortunately performance will sometimes dip below 20fps during some of the more elaborate scenarios (i.e. using Stigmas). Playing Overdose in dock mode, though, provides a somewhat more stable experience, but it’s not perfect; some performance issues still remain.

The Caligula Effect: Overdose is an enjoyable game. It does have its issues and the occasional quirk throughout, but nothing substantially game breaking. The story is engaging; the characters are likable; and combat is still entertaining despite the issues mentioned earlier. Performances issues aside, Overdose is a respectable entry in the JRPG genre, and a funvgame to own on the  the Nintendo Switch.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Aquria
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB: M (Mature)
Price: $49.99

The Caligula Effect: Overdose Official Website:

Review Score
The graphics - especially the environments - appear very plain.
Some of the best music in a NIS America release.
While somewhat limited, the game does allow for some exploration.
The Caligula Effect: Overdose is an enjoyable game despite some of its minor performance issues.
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