I Am Caligula takes a step back into the rule of the Roman Emperor, Caligula. Follow the story of his short reign in this equally short RPG Maker game.
I Am Caligula is a turn-based RPG Maker title that follows the story of Caligula. You’ll see his madness and his love for his sister, Drusilla. You’ll also come to find that the game boasts some horrific English and a struggle to have proper pacing.
When you get in control of Caligula, you’ll be given pretty much no direction as to where you should go. You can explore around Rome, find a random scene within the Senate, go into the sewers to fight some bandits, and head to a few other cities. What you’re really supposed to do is go sleep in his room to progress into a dream. This lack of direction, and ultimately poor pacing, continues for the rest of the game. Even when you’re at the end, you can still go around the different cities, even though all that’s really left to do is find the trigger for the ending.
One of the huge detractors from I Am Caligula is the absolutely horrific English that is present. There are missing commas everywhere (there is a huge difference “Perhaps now you understand Senators.” and “Perhaps now you understand, Senators.”), misspelled words, and incorrect grammar. I will always state that I don’t claim to have good English, but when things end up this completely butchered, it becomes extremely clear that not much care was put into making sure the English was good. When one of your main selling points of the game is the story, please make sure that it is not completely butchered by grammar errors.
When it comes to the combat in I Am Caligula, while there isn’t very much of it, what you’ll find is horribly balanced. Enemies will hit for far too much and you don’t have nearly enough health. During the previously mentioned dream sequence, you’ll be stuck with Caligula alone. You’ll have to face enemies that can pretty much wipe you out without there being much you can do about it. Luckily for you, there is some glitches you can abuse here!
The game does, of course, feature a host of bugs and improperly set stuff within the engine. One of the biggest is during the dream area. It begins with a screenshot from another one of the dev’s games (a VN following Drusilla). While this shot is up, you can move Caligula around as you please. This means you can force him to walk upwards towards the trigger to change areas. You can also move between the dialogue boxes that come up from the “nightmare” within this dream. In order to progress, I pretty much had to abuse this, since otherwise I was just getting destroyed by the enemies there.
Then there’s the battle screens during the attack on the German forces, and within the subsequent retreat. The initial battle here will rearrange where your characters get placed on the screen. That’s all well and good, but then you have to escape. The battles that follow will see Drusilla placed differently from everyone else, with her sprite appearing as her normal one as opposed to her battle sprite. Should she die (since enemies still hit far too hard), reviving her will result in her turning invisible. Oh, and did I mention that you can pop open the menu during some parts of the cutscenes here?
If I were to name two major pet peeves within video games, this game would end up having both of them. I absolutely despise when games do voice acting with no subtitles at all. I also despise when there’s a complete lack of proper sound balancing. I Am Caligula features some occasional voice acting, however there are no subtitles present for any of this. Oh yeah, and they basically sound like they’re whispering… at least compared to the music volume. It’s not all tracks though, since there are some tracks that are so quiet you have to turn your sound up a lot to even hear them. Then, of course, they’re followed up with a song that will blow out your speakers/headphones, even if you have your sound turned down extremely low.
While this isn’t something I typically bring up, I do want to mention something about this game’s developer. For anyone who browses the games that are up for Greenlight voting, you’ll often find this developer commenting on the RPG Maker games. These comments usually involve saying how bad they are for using default assets. Well, here comes I Am Caligula… a game that features default assets. Sure, the character sprites are unique, but there’s still a lot of things anyone who has played a couple RPGM games will easily recognize. I also often don’t mind default assets as long as they actually fit the game, but some of these just don’t fit, at least in my opinion.
If you’re looking for a cheap, ~1 1/2 hour RPG Maker game… I don’t suggest I Am Caligula. Well, maybe if you’re looking for something that features horrible English, unbalanced battles, unbalanced music, and default RPGM assets. The pacing struggles, there’s a lack of direction, and it ultimately results in the game just not being very fun at all. The various pieces of the game just feel disconnected, and even the NPCs don’t know what to do about the time jumps that take place, since most of them will end up saying the same things throughout the entire game! Give I Am Caligula a pass and just go read Wikipedia if you want to find out more about Caligula.
I Am Caligula Review Score
Note: A patch was put out for grammar after I wrote this review. I did a quick check and a lot of the grammar errors I found were still present. I didn’t have a chance to check on spelling errors I found.