Review – The Caligula Effect 2

The original The Caligula Effect was originally released for PS Vita in 2017, but sadly, it didn’t make a splash. It was released way too late in that system’s life cycle and it had the unfortunate issue of coming out the same year as another JRPG starring teenagers fighting demons and overcoming teenagehood problems: Persona 5. It did see an improved port released on PS4 and Switch a few years later, and while I enjoyed it, it featured a myriad of issues, namely with its atrocious graphics. It’s time to see if FuRyu and NIS America have learned from their mistakes with the original game in The Caligula Effect 2.

Caligula Effect 2 Combat

The Caligula Effect 2’s combat system is its highlight, just like in its predecessor.

The Caligula Effect 2 is not a sequel with the same cast as its predecessor, but it follows the same premise, being set in a Matrix-like virtual reality where people live their lives free of the burdens of the real world. Its main cast of characters are a handful of kids who eventually figure out their lives are a lie and are trying to escape from this simulation. The big difference in this sequel lies on your “companion”, a virtuadoll (essentially a sentient Hatsune Miku-esque vocaloid) who wants to tear this virtual world a new one alongside you. She doesn’t exactly fight alongside you via direct means, but helps your team out with unbelievably obnoxious J-Pop tunes that somehow enhance your party’s stats.

The combat system is The Caligula Effect 2‘s highlight, as it was in its predecessor. It’s a complex system in which you can foresee where and when your opponents will attack, essentially letting you plan your moves according to theirs. You can see the direction and kind of attack your enemies will use, letting you choose a specific countermeasure, and letting you choose the specific second you will unleash your attack in order to perfectly parry and leave your foes defenseless. Sure, this combat system is long and complex, which might result in fatigue later down the line, but it’s a ton of fun. It’s gratifying to see your enemies unable to attack you with a perfectly calculated turn of moves.

Caligula Effect 2 Graphics

Characters are as well-animated as everyone was in the original Sims game… but hey, the game isn’t blurry anymore!

The main issue with The Caligula Effect 2 is that its combat system is basically its one saving grace. The original game had a good story that tackled taboo themes and issues related to being teenager. They are present in here, sure, but not with the same quality of writing or interesting NPCs to back things up. Things either never escalate or escalate too quickly. The plot never unfolds at a decent pace: it’s either a barrage of exposition dump or hours beyond hours of nothing happening onscreen. To make matters worse, despite not being tied to the Vita’s hardware limitations like its predecessor, The Caligula Effect 2 barely looks and runs better than its 2017 counterpart, at least on the Switch.

I will praise ONE thing about the graphics: they aren’t blurry and muddy like they were in the Switch version of Caligula Effect: Overdose. That doesn’t mean the game looks much better. This still looks like a mid-tier PS2 game at the very best, with character animations being as complex as the ones seen on the original Sims game. To make matters worse, the damn thing runs at 30fps, and still manages to drop a few frames every now and then. I know this is the Switch we’re talking about, but I know the little thing can do better than that.


You’ve met each other like three seconds ago…

The Caligula Effect 2 might still have the excellent combat system that made its predecessor worth any JRPG fan’s time, but unlike that game, it doesn’t feature an engaging story with memorable characters, nor is it well-paced as it used to be. Sadly, it is as generic as a dystopian JRPG starring Japanese teenagers (a subgenre that is way bigger than one would initially believe) can be. If you really enjoyed the original, there is some fun to be had in here, as the core combat mechanics are still pretty good, but even fans of the first Caligula Effect will feel this sequel took half a dozen steps back in order to take one step forward.


Graphics: 5.5

Even if it doesn’t look as blurry as the original Caligula Effect, this game barely looks better than a mid-tier PS2 title from back in the day… and it can’t even run past 30fps.

Gameplay: 8.5

The best thing about The Caligula Effect 2, just like its predecessor, is its complex but rewarding combat system. It is basically the same as before.

Sound: 6.5

The voice acting remains at the same level of quality as before, but the loud J-Pop tunes scattered throughout the entire game are even more obnoxious than the ones featuring in its predecessor.

Fun Factor: 6.0

The Caligula Effect 2 might still have an excellent combat system, but unlike its predecessor, it doesn’t have an engaging story with memorable characters.

Final Verdict: 6.5

The Caligula Effect 2 is available now on PS4 and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of The Caligula Effect 2 was provided by the publisher.