Anime girls, dungeons, blood, and battle – a fierce combination, but does Mary Skelter 2 pierce to new depths, or is the title DOA? Find out in this review of Idea Factory’s new dungeon crawler RPG, out now for the Switch!
The game opens in the middle of Jail – a massive complex at the centre of a crevice that suddenly opened up in the middle of a Japanese city. In Jail, horrific creatures known as Marchen capture and torture the human survivors for seemingly no reason. It has been some time since the sudden appearance of Jail, and two heroes – the princess, Little Mermaid, and her betrothed, the lady prince Otsuu, have invaded Jail in order to try to help the humans, and meet a newly discovered Blood Maiden – a special type of young woman who has special abilities that can be used against the Marchen.
And from there, you’re thrown into your first battle. The combat in Mary Skelter 2 is a straight-forward affair: You can attack, use a skill (which uses SP), defend, or use an item. It’s a turn based title, and turn order is decided by a character’s speed stat. The characters you start off with have a decent array of attack and healing abilities, so things shouldn’t be too hard early on. Some attacks have an elemental affinity, and may be more or less effective against monsters of different types: Fire beats Air, which beats Earth, which beats Water, which beats Fire.
Additionally, when attacking, you can earn a blood splatter – when the blood splatter gauge fills for a character, they’ll be able to enter Massacre Mode – a transformation that makes them stronger, more resilient, and able to use a special Massacre Skill for a few turns. Also, you can have other heroines ‘lick’ another’s maxed blood splatter to provide heals or boosts.
After you win your battle, you’ll get a ranking (Bleed), XP, gold, item, and Blood Crystals. Blood Crystals are items used to power up your heroines’ equpment, and come in a variety of forms that impart different things. Additionally, you can earn Custom Points to upgrade your heroine’s skillset as they level.
The game is a dungeon crawler, like it’s predecessor – think Persona Q or Legend of Grimrock for style. You guide your party of heroines around specific floors of Jail, stumbling across random battles, finding items, and avoiding hazards in your wake. There’s a few gimmicks, like jump pads and pits, to help you traverse the levels. Additionally, previously explored levels can be walked through automatically; useful for if you want to head to a specific shop or location.
You will want to take control when monsters known as Nightmares appear though – these incredibly powerful bosses will pursue your party through a floor, and it’s best you try to escape rather than confront them. It’s a neat change up compared to the usual floor roaming.
Mary Skelter 2‘s main draw is its heroines, though – you’ll recruit more Blood Maidens through the game, and can swap them out to create a party more to your liking. Additionally, characters can be dressed in alternative costumes/’jobs’ you can unlock, and they have a gallery available, if scantily clad anime girls are more your thing. And some of the designs are pretty risque.
That does, unfortunately, mean that the plot is, if I am to be completely honest, generic animu bullshit. Everything is sort of vaguely stitched together for the sake of the girls and gameplay, with things (eg. Alice in Wonderland motifs, all the girls being named after fables) just sort of there for no real reason. Good news, though – Mary Skelter 2 does come with the first title, so if you play that first, you will get some extra insights. Like exactly who Jack – a Nightmare you can recruit later on – was.
The controls of the title are simple, though you’ll be using the D-Pad, not the control stick. The options are decent, with the ability to configure exactly how you would auto-complete levels, or…turn off pesky male voices. The game also gives you access to the entire soundtrack right off the bat – and the soundtrack is a pretty good listen.
Overall, Mary Skelter 2 is a solid dungeon crawling experience, with a few interesting gimmicks bolstering a fairly standard combat system. The main focus of the title is the gameplay and the girls, so don’t go into this thinking you’re going to get some really deep or interesting plot. It’s a title made to kickback and relax with. And if that sounds like your jam, you’re going to love it.