Well, here we go again.
This piece necessarily contains spoilers as to the plot of the original release of Catherine, as well as the full version of Catherine: Full Body, including its endings. I am going to spoil just about everything. This is your first warning.
Catherine: Full Body is set for English language release in early September, and I’ve played the full English version now. A personal thanks to Atlus USA’s PR team who knew exactly what I said about the Japanese version, knew what my plans were for the English version, and still went ahead and gave me an early copy of the game.
I recommend you read the first piece now, if you haven’t already.
If you’re looking for the short version of the English language version, here it is:
SPOILERS BEGIN NOW. This is your second and final warning!
So let’s revisit the character of Rin. The biggest piece of feedback I received from my original piece was that I “mischaracterized” Rin as a trans woman. Rin is a character that the game portrays as a woman in its marketing and for most of the game, who has been explicitly marketed with trans imagery. The initial reveal that Rin has male genitals is handled in a scene with Vincent initially asking Rin “are you a boy,” to which Rin confirms that they are. After Rin runs away, Vincent’s friends make jokes about how Rin is “packing heat” (direct quote from the English script,) while Erica (who is also a trans woman) compares Rin’s experience to her own.
After this, if you choose to pursue Rin (which is portrayed as Vincent just ignoring her gender, instead of being willing to accept a trans woman as a woman,) the color scheme for the game’s online polling feature changes to match the colors of the trans pride flag.
The game knows what it’s doing.
Saying that the game isn’t going for “trans panic” or that it isn’t being transphobic because Rin is just a crossdressing boy that everyone mistakes as female is missing the entire point. Games don’t just materialize; creative choices for these characters aren’t ordained by God. The marketing for the game, design of the character, and planning for the character arc were made in concert with each other (on the Japanese side) to tell a certain story. That story revolves around a “haha psych!” moment for Rin, and is made even more frustrating to trans players and audiences by immediately and noticeably changing all pronouns used to refer to Rin from “she/her” to “he/his.” On top of that, Rin is referred to as “brother” by their alien sibling.
Because, remember, don’t worry, even the gender kerfuffle doesn’t matter because they’re aliens, duh!! /s
The fact that the creative team sat down and decided this was the story they wanted to tell, and how they wanted to tell it, is a very clear example of someone showing you who they are.
Onto how the localization team massaged the rest of the game’s script, they changed one optional side conversation with Erica and now no longer credit her in the credits as “Eric.” That’s most of what they changed. That cringe-worthy exchange in the True Katherine ending from the original game where Toby complains about sleeping with her, deadnames her, and outs her as a punchline? Yup, that’s still in there untouched. The new ending where Catherine goes back in time and lets her and Vincent meet under different circumstances that has Erica untransitioned? Yup, that’s still in there, with people saying her deadname (only name at the time, in fairness,) multiple times, while the voice actress for the character tries to do a more masculine voice. It’s honestly just upsetting to see in a game at all, let alone an English language $60 PS4 game from a sizable publisher in 2019.
In fact, the vast majority of the lines from the original Catherine localization are included untouched, which makes it a good thing that they got all of the original voice actors back to record the new lines. The voice acting is generally of a high quality in terms of acting and direction.
On top of this all, I just truly found myself exhausted while playing this game again. Its outlook on life and perspective is truly just exhausting and has not aged well. The game constantly makes you choose between false equivalencies, and things that are not exclusive, such as being sexually active or being in a loving, steady relationship. The game also has an exhausting view on men, portraying them as incapable of being intelligent or doing the right thing, while woman are almost exclusively portrayed as bitchy, controlling, and manipulative, whether by lying to the poor men, going behind their backs, or never trusting the men. It’s such a dated fucking worldview that I’m so tired of.
Last time I ended on just saying that the puzzles were alright — and they still are. This time I’ll add that Shoji Meguro remains one of the best composers in the industry and it’s a shame that some of his great recent work is attached to a game this problematic.
There are also dozens if not hundreds of people who worked on various versions of this game that are not part of the problem at all, from QA testers to localization staff, from graphic designers to programmers. I also don’t really find any fault or issue with Atlus USA’s handling of this specifically; they’ve shown through multiple statements that they understand what people see in this game and seem to have done as much as they could to acknowledge and tackle the issues. The root of the issue is almost certainly a Japanese parent company that had a team of developer celebrities make this game, and then told the Western branch to bring it over as-is and sell it internationally as one of their marquee holiday releases. Until the development team starts listening and understanding that this shit is not okay to a lot of people, we’re probably unlikely to see too much change.
Now that I’ve played so much fucking Catherine: Full Body that I could probably play it with my eyes closed, let me just say: fuck this game.
…though the online matchmaking song is a bop.