The Caligula Effect: Overdose – Review
Follow Genre: RPG
Developer: Aquria
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PC, PS4, Switch
Tested on: Switch

The Caligula Effect: Overdose – Review

Site Score
Good: A fresh take on the classic RPG battle system
Bad: Boring story, boring gameplay, boring environments
User Score
(4 votes)
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Rating: 3.3/10 (4 votes cast)

After doing some research, the “Caligula Effect” is explained as “the guilt and excitement that comes with doing something that you shouldn’t do.” Basically, the temptations that come with forbidden fruits. According to Takuya Yamanaka, director of The Caligula Effect, this sense of immorality is what he wanted people to feel while playing the game. Meaning that practically, you will rebel and do your own thing, despite what is good or bad. 


You play as a student living in a strange world that turns out to be more than it seems. Your name you can type in as you start, where your last name is allowed to be six entire characters, cause God forbid that games would let you actually use your full name as you please. At least you can also choose to be either male or female. The story starts with you sitting in the school theater or auditorium, listening to representatives of each class and year saying something towards the general public. Every time they open their mouth, however, like many times in the game, the lazy writing and lack of depth quickly shines through.

A lot of the writing is either incredibly shallow by making a non-essential character start a sentence such as ”I think our class has the best…”, followed up by a fade-out and a fade-in, and followed up by something like ”..and that’s why I don’t like studying”. It’s complete and utter nonsense and sometimes even part of the gameplay as well. This type of no-purpose-filling is seen in multiple elements throughout the game, sometimes making it feel like you are just wasting time. The main story has a bit better writing but is stretched out endlessly with what seems, again, filler material.

Anyway, to follow up and summarize what the story is about, after being in the auditorium you suddenly notice weird ”glitches” on peoples faces, showing what seems to be a bunch of monsters or programs that indicate more is going on. As you panic, you run away, discovering that the weird world you find yourself in is some type of digital refuge, controlled by a friendly yet powerful AI. It doesn’t take long before you find and join the ”go-home” club, a group of people who also saw their environment as you did, all with the common goal to escape their bonds of this crafted reality.


In its appearance, The Caligula Effect is a bit rough on its edges. Everything is done in an anime fashion, but that doesn’t mean it’s great quality as well. The characters are simple models without mouth movements. The environment you find yourself in hasn’t got great models and is a bit blurry or trashy here and there. To make it worse, most areas you will find yourself in are very uninspired and repeat itself all the time. The starting level for example, which is a school building, could basically be the same room all the time even though you traverse through a couple of hundred ones. That’s how little effort is done to make it something special visually. Yet the animations are alright. But that’s all that the walking and fighting visually is: alright. Again, nothing special, and overall very repetitive and bland.


The sound is probably the most alright part of the entire game. Since every bit of story-driven text also has a voice-over, which doesn’t feel as pale as the rest of the game. The characters do have a nice ring to it, and giving them a voice brings their flat models to life a bit. The background tracks are also fitting for an anime-themed game, but sadly, once again, also boring and repetitive. The sound effects, on the other hand, are pretty alright again.


This is where the RPG The Caligula Effect: Overdose really starts to lose its charm. Basically, the entire game is set-up like a traditional Final Fantasy/Pokémon game, but with a twist. You get to choose between different kinds of movement, meaning you can do one of your attacks, defensive moves or supportive moves such as regenerating your skill power. On top of that, you can queue three different movements in a row for each team member. In the top right corner, a timeline is shown, much like the one you would use for video editing software. Here you can see when which character will do what and even adapt the timing if you want.

The game even adapts some form of what Final Fantasy used to call a limit break. When your character stresses enough he will get a special attack available to do huge damage and (half) obliterate your chosen enemy. The game even has an equipment system where you can equip poetic.. things such as ”Door Slam” to boost your stats a bit as you want it. Now here’s the real deal-breaker. None of it matters.

The game is pretentious is what it is because it looks like fun but is so unbalanced, repetitive and easy that you might as well keep on pressing the first attack for each character and win every fight for most of the time. It just adds up to the nothingness it wants to tell you. In that aspect, it succeeded in connecting its elements and merging them together as a whole. There is a very small repetitive puzzle included as well which basically boils down to if you see a ranged enemy, use an anti-ranged opening. If you see a melee enemy, an anti-melee, and a shielding enemy, a shield piercer. It’s almost as insulting as giving you one of those boxes where you have to put the right shapes in each similarly shaped hole. It’s something a five-year-old would have already been bored by.


Boring, bland, repetitive, you name it. The story hasn’t got much to keep you going, the graphics are pretty effortless and don’t even start about the gameplay. The sound section has something good, and there are some minor charms to the game but damn, it would have been better to scrap this game in the design phase and make some serious considerations and adaptations. With so many good games in the same genre, even the new variation in the classic combat doesn’t save this game at all.

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Rating: 3.3/10 (4 votes cast)
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The Caligula Effect: Overdose - Review, 3.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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