You would think to be a comic book enthusiast I’d be more in tune with the anime/manga world and games inspired by it. Outside of the Pokémon universe, I’m clueless. Case in point is the video game Mary Skelter: Nightmares, which serves as “Mary Skelter 1”. Mary Skelter: Nightmares is a dungeon-crawling role-playing video game developed by Compile Heart and was originally released on the PlayStation Vita. It hit that handheld system in October of 2016 in Japan and then released in September of the same year for North America and Europe. Mary Skelter 2 is a first-person dungeon-crawling sequel that plays out pretty much the same way. This is our Mary Skelter 2 Switch review!
The Mary Skelter gaming universe takes place via the first-person dungeon of an underground prison known as “the Jail”. Terrible creatures called Marchen act as the wardens of the Jail, capturing humans and submitting them to various forms of tortures. The cast of Mary Skelter 2 consists of anime versions of classic fairy tale characters known as Blood Maidens. In Mary Skelter 2 you’ll encounter classic characters named Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Thumbelina, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. The story revolves around Otsuu and his friends who form the Dawn Group as they try and explore this Jail dungeon and defeat the Nightmares within.
The story is presented as chatter between the characters in your group replete with gorgeous anime-style artwork and strong English based voice acting. These are certainly some of the game’s strongest features that will keep comic book enthusiasts moving forward to reveal.
Personally, I did not play the first Mary Skelter installment, so “2” was my first look into this universe. Given that, I don’t feel like I suffered any loss by not playing Mark Skelter: Nightmares first.
Mary Skelter 2 takes place in first-person and is essentially a grid-based dungeon crawler. Each floor is depicted on a hidden map and you’ll go forward, strafe side to side and turn around to uncover areas of the map and surprises on each floor. Along the way, puzzles will need to be solved to advance further into the dungeon level. Of course, each journey will have more than a handful of, sometimes random, turn-based battles played out similar to a Final Fantasy game.
Control is fairly simple considering you’re restricted to X-Y movements on a grid. Whether in docked or undocked mode the game was easily playable and worked well. On the large screen, the lovely anime artwork lost some of its clarity but not enough to diminish the fun.
Extensive Sub-Systems Within
Character gameplay and management include a lot of features including a blood splatter gauge that once filled puts a character into “Massacre Mode”. In fact, there are so many sub-systems that you might get overwhelmed with all the possibilities. One example is the use of Blood Crystals to plant Blood Flowers. These “flowers” can be harvested for additional items. Combine that with the ability to splash them with Marchen Blood by performing a critical hit during a battle to get even rarer items!
Another example is that each Jail has three “desires” that players will need to fill up to provide bonuses and satisfy the Jail’s mood. However, if the Jail’s mood worsens, players will soon see a white mist, meaning that a Nightmare is near. If the Nightmare gets too close, players will enter “Nightmare Hunt” mode, where the Nightmare will chase you through the dungeon in real-time, YIKES! Nightmares cannot be defeated unless the core of the dungeon is destroyed. Barring that, you’ll have to resort to stunning a Nightmare to escape!
Of course, how can one not smile when one game mechanic is “Lick a Blood Maiden”? This is actually a move, Lick, to revitalize a character’s health or create temporary boosts.
Mary Skelter 2 also boasts the usual RPG elements. Naturally, you level up party members to give them higher stats. You’ll also make use of Blood Pack drops to unlock new skills and new powers! By collecting “Jail Pieces”, you can add these items to a randomized roulette that can yield additional rewards!
This sequel also adds another degree of difficulty through the “Jail Trail” sub-system. Via this system, you can set dungeon conditions like “no saves or heals” and then run the “trial”. Completing a Jail Trial provides better item drops and more experience!
But Wait, Chet, There’s More!
Mary Skelter 2 also contains the first game, Mary Skelter: Nightmares as a DLC add-on. This Switch version includes revamped systems and balances to the original release.
The included DLC content also includes “Death end re; Quest Job Attire 1″ which unlocks a new job class, skills, and outfits inspired by Death end re; Quest for the following characters: Otsuu, Little Mermaid, Hameln, Gretel, Rapunzel, Kaguya. “Death End re; Quest Job Attire 2″ which unlocks a new job class, skills, and outfits inspired by Death end re; Quest for the following characters: Thumbelina, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Alice.
COMPARE TO: Mary Skelter: Nightmares, early Final Fantasy games
Note: A Nintendo Switch eShop code was provided for this review.