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Games I won’t review – Mary Skelter: Nightmares

September 23rd, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

Sometimes there’s games I don’t review because they suck and I don’t want to play all the way through, but sometimes there’s games that I do actually like but I end up making some kind of mistake and which kinda ends up ruining the game for myself. This one is such an example.

It’s one of them first-person grid-based dungeon-crawling RPGs, and the Vita is FILLED with those, so I don’t know if I would’ve ended up doing a full review, but I do like talking about them anyways.

So let’s talk about this game a bit!

Why I won’t review it

So I mentioned in the intro that I stopped playing it because I made a mistake. And honestly I’ve made this mistake many times and it always makes me stop playing the game I’m playing… I need to stop making that mistake. That mistake? The most amateur mistake you can possibly make: not saving enough. But I went WAAAAAAAY overboard with the “not saving”.

So in the second dungeon I went through most of it without saving at all. Got to the first boss of it, got my fifth character, everything was going pretty well… then forgot to set up my fifth character (which gave me a deadweight in the following battle) and still didn’t save (and didn’t save through most of that dungeon), fought the second boss of the dungeon, got my ass kicked and lost several hours worth of gameplay because dying brings you back to the title screen. So… yeah. I kinda don’t want to go through all this stuff I already did, so I’m giving up on it, for now at least. I hate redoing stuff I already did, whether or not I’d be redoing it by my own fault or because of bad design (and this time it’s 100% my fault).

So the reason I’m not reviewing it isn’t because it’s bad, but because I messed up and I don’t feel like playing back what I lost. I did have fun with it so far, and would’ve kept on enjoying it if I hadn’t made a mistake like this.

My impressions so far

So this game is fucking weird. Outside of the gameplay which is fairly standard stuff for this genre (more on it later), it has such a strange story. You start in a jail cell in a place called the “Jail”. Your characters, Jack and Alice, are prisoners there and every day they’re either tortured or forced to lick walls (no, I have no idea why at the point I got in the story) by Marchens, basically monsters that may or may not have been humans before the Jail took over/replaced/invaded/whatever the area. Jack and Alice are saved by Red Riding Hood, a Blood Maiden. Turns out Alice is also a Blood Maiden, so she can help Red Riding Hood in fighting Marchens. You get brought back to a city where Marchens aren’t around (but still in the Jail), and are recruited to a resistance group to attempt to get out of the Jail. Also Jack’s blood stops Blood Maiden from going into Blood Skelter form (which makes them really strong but also ends up killing them). Yay.

The story is weird with all the blood and licking walls and licking blood and the Jail seeming alive, and some of that weirdness is transferred over to the gameplay. As far as the standards go, it’s similar to other games in the genre. You have front and back rows, weapons attack either row but there may be damage penalties, your characters attack enemies and learn skills and level up, you know how these work if you’ve played something like Etrian Odyssey at all.

The game’s weirdness in gameplay starts with the Blood Maidens having one of the weirdest commands in an RPG I can think of: Lick. What does Lick do? Well, your characters get covered in Marchen blood during battle (if you overkill them, or hit them with their weakness). Enough blood puts them in Massacre mode, which makes them stronger for a bit. Another use for that blood though is that you can get them to lick that blood off of each other… Yeah it’s weird. Licking gives some kind of boost depending on which character was licked.

Speaking of Marchen blood, eventually Jack gets a gun that shoots his own blood, which cures corruption from the Blood Maidens (preventing them from getting in Blood Skelter mode, or curing them from it). Corruption can be seen because their blood meter gets darker. Jack is also the only character in battle who can use items, but he can’t attack. He can instead guard one of the Blood Maidens, which will stop all damage but may stun him. If he’s stunned too much he gets KO’d, I don’t know what happens if he does. Jack isn’t “part” of your character formation, he’s just there in all battles.

Outside of battles (which are otherwise standard except for all this weird stuff I mentioned) you get CP from leveling up, which you can spend on learning skills. Battles gain you money, EXP and Bleed… I don’t know what Bleed does. You also get items and blood crystals. Blood Crystals can be used to add skill slots to the characters so you can equip more at a time, or to change the characters’ jobs (they will learn different skills depending on their job, some of which are passive, and switching jobs keeps some of those). Any of those require lots of Blood Crystals, but Blood Crystals can also be used to upgrade equipment. So it’s kinda hard to not overuse them.

In dungeons there’s not TOO much to talk about (other than them being really weird), but each character in your party has some kind of skill they can use to solve puzzles. So far in my game one shot arrows, one made spots that you can use to save and go back to town (yes, I get that this gives me even less of an excuse for my mistake since you can save anywhere), one dropped bombs and the other cut things in front of herself. All of those are used to advance. Also Jack can shoot blood but I didn’t find anything that used it yet.

The biggest, weirdest thing in dungeons (other than the decor… the graveyard has giant fat zombie garden gnomes twitching all over the place.. they do nothing, they’re just there, and creepy) is nightmares. They’re strong enemies that you cannot defeat (until the story lets you). They spawn at kinda random, and if you get close to where they spawn (they also move around after spawning) they start chasing you so you have to try running away. Get a bit over 60 meters away and they disappear. If they get close you can still keep running even if they’re right next to you, but if they block your path you have to fight them. Break a few of their parts and they get stunned for a bit, then you have to run. It’s a very unique element, but I did find it kinda annoying at times… Like I try to get to a switch and suddenly I need to run away from a nightmare before I can get back to the switch.

Also the Jail itself is a gameplay element. It has 3 bars you can fill up: Hunger, Libido and Sleep. Hunger is filled up by spilling Marchen blood, Libido is filled by finding collection points, emotion points and the Blood Maidens licking each other, and Sleep is filled up by not getting damaged when the Jail falls asleep or something like that. Filling up any of these meters gives you a wheel that turns and you stop it on a bonus of some sort. The bonus may be healing, higher encounter chance for the Merchant (better than the store in the city but he’s a random encounter), growth of the dungeons (I don’t quite know how that works, but more floors are created for you to explore), and several other kinds of rewards.

There’s a “Partner” system, I don’t know what it does because I didn’t get enough Blood Maidens.

Overall

This seems like one of the more interesting games in the genre on Vita, which is saying a lot since there’s so many of them (I’m literally getting another one in November, it never ends). It has a really fucking weird premise, but I was pretty hooked. The Jail itself is a huge mystery that seems really intriguing (what with Jack kinda “understanding” the Jail when it makes weird noises, or the tower that keeps growing), the gameplay is really fun, the weirdness is compelling, there’s some level of character customization (like the deleveling feature which lets you reduce a character’s level but that gives them bonus stats and CP)… I wish I hadn’t made the mistake I did. It’s not like I have an excuse since Alice can save anywhere, but there you go.

If you like this genre of game I do recommend this one, it’s cool. I don’t quite get what’s the obsession with blood and licking and licking blood, but I’m sure there’s some decent explanation later in the game. There’s gotta be.

Just be sure to not be like me, save a lot.

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