Mind Zero review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Aksys
Developer: Acquire
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
Players: 1
Online: No

“Show, don’t tell.” That’s one of the basic tenets of storytelling, but it’s also one of the hardest to adhere to. Consider how it works in video games: you have a detailed story, you want to make sure players get everything, so what better way to do that than with an info dump? It’s inelegant, true, but it’s also more efficient than the alternative, which is to gradually dole things out over the course of several sequences.

Of course, as Mind Zero shows, it’s not hard for “inelegant” to quickly become a euphemism for “painfully boring”. Because if there’s one thing you need to know about Mind Zero, it’s this: it’s mind-numbingly dull. It’s endless expository dialogue, screen after screen after screen of characters telling each other every little plot detail, with the occasional dungeon thrown in to mix things up a little.

mind zero 1

Unfortunately, for the most part, all the dungeons do is reinforce the tedium. You wander around, hoping to stumble across an enemy, and when you do, you get thrown into the most lifeless turn-based battles imaginable. Remarkably, even here, the game manages to make things boring, by allowing you to fast-forward through each battle. Obviously, that’s kind of the cheap way out, but consider the alternative: very slowly slogging your way through fights with poorly-animated monsters. If I have to pick between quick & cheap or a dull, possibly rewarding slog, I have to admit that I’m going with the quick option every time.

With all this talk of how boring Mind Zero is, I’m overlooking the problem most people will have with the game: namely, that it’s awfully similar to the Persona franchise. You don’t even have to look very hard to see it, either: the main characters are all high school students, they divide their time between the real world and a demon world, the turn-based battles. If I — with my very limited exposure to the Persona series — notice the similarities, I can’t imagine the game will seem particularly interesting for all those people who’ve sunk countless hours into the likes of Persona 4 Golden or Persona 2: Innocent Sin.

I should note, however, that Mind Zero isn’t an especially bad game. It may not be the most original or the most compelling game out there, but at no time does it cross from being boring and bland to being laughably terrible. Forgettable-looking enemies aside, it looks nice enough, and the demons that accompany you are occasionally pretty impressive, graphics-wise. Likewise, while the story is ponderous, it’s not incomprehensible. It starts out being a little confusing, but it doesn’t take long for things to resolve themselves via snooze-inducing chunks of dialogue.

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In other words, what you have in Mind Zero is a perfectly serviceable, thoroughly mediocre game. If you’ve worked your way through Persona 4 Golden and Conception II and Demon Gaze and Monster Monpiece and Danganronpa and all the other JRPGs and visual novels on the Vita, then you might find Mind Zero to be worth your time until another, better game comes along, but otherwise, it’s just not worth investing your time or money.

Grade: C