Publisher: Idea Factory
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
While PS Vita dungeon-crawlers from Japan seemed like they were a dime-a-dozen at one point, Mary Skelter always managed to stick out in my memory. And for good reason: it was absolutely bonkers. While it featured the usual mix of titillation and turn-based battles, it also took a fanfic-style approach to storytelling, lifting well-known characters from across the Western canon and mashing them all together in a story that, best as I can remember, made zero sense. Admittedly, the plots of its contemporaries weren?t much more coherent, but there was something about having Alice (from Alice in Wonderland), Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and other fairy tale staples interacting that really made the game stand out.
The good news about Mary Skelter 2 is that it takes a similar approach to its source material. The game starts off with Little Red Riding Hood and the Little Mermaid wandering through a dungeon, fighting monsters, and it only goes further off-the-rails from there. Naturally, the game takes every opportunity it can to throw in all kinds of unsubtle innuendo, and it tries its best to get its female characters undressed as much as censors will allow via Blood Skelter mode, in which they get into a frenzy and all their clothes fall off as they attack everyone.
Of course, that?s also the bad news. Even if I wasn?t too keen on how fanservice-y the first Mary Skelter was, there was no denying that it was overflowing with ideas (even if not all of them were good). Mary Skelter 2 feels like a continuation of the first game, rather than a step forward, since so much of what made the first game surprising is brought back and reused.
To be sure, there are tweaks here and there. For example, Mary Skelter 2 introduces Nightmares, horrific creatures who chase you unceasingly through the dungeon until you either lose them or they kill everyone in your party; not only do they follow you as you run, they also keep gaining on you when you?re plunged into a battle, which forces you to hurry through your battles as quickly as you can.
But that kind of change hardly feels revolutionary, particularly when you consider that, as I said, the first Mary Skelter was absolutely insane. Simply continuing the insanity no longer feels as impressive. As such, what you?re left with feels more like just another dungeon-crawler than I would have expected from this franchise — albeit a very solid dungeon-crawler. The battles move along at a brisk pace and exploring the dungeons still feels like an interesting challenge. Plus, that dayglo colour scheme has returned for another go-around, which should please anyone who likes their dungeons hot pink and glowing.
Really, it will depend on what you go into Mary Skelter 2 expecting. If you played the first one on the Vita, you won?t see much here you didn?t see before, and you?ll feel like you?re playing the same game (which isn?t terrible, since the first game wasn?t terrible). If, however, you go in here fresh, you may be pleasantly surprised at how bursting at the seams this game is. Not all of its ideas are great — and again, they?re mostly recycled from the series? first entry — but it?s still interesting to see a dungeon-crawler willing to try so many new things.
Idea Factory provided us with a Mary Skelter 2 Switch code for review purposes.