As most of us know by now, Japanese RPG’s can get pretty weird. Last year alone, we took a return trip to a world where game console goddesses saved the world from the disgruntled spirit of the Sega Dreamcast, and became pop stars who defended Tokyo from the evils of the entertainment industry. But I can comfortably say that I have yet to play anything like Mary Skelter: Nightmares, a new dungeon crawling RPG by Compile Heart that tasks you with leading a party full of gothic lolita versions of our favorite fairy tale heroines to freedom as they fight their way through a living prison. Except they’re hardly the prancing, singing princesses you might be picturing, because their insatiable blood lust leads them to go wild as they soak up the blood of their enemies. What’s the best way to bring them back to their senses? Naturally, you lick them clean.
Trust me when I say that you’re going to to need to get used to the trying act of making these attractive anime girls lick each other, because your success in battle directly correlates with how close they get to losing control. Doing damage, landing critical hits and finishing off strong opponents leads to larger blood splatters. Once one of the girls absorbs a certain amount of blood, they transform into their most powerful state, greatly improving their damage and abilities in the process. If that blood continues to pile up however, the girl will eventually go berserk, forcing her to lose all control and attack friend and foe alike. Licking has the added benefit of healing the affected party member, but when the rest of your girls are tied up with casting support spells, attacking enemy monsters or taking advantage of elemental weaknesses, Jack, your character, has a special weapon that can calm the girls down instantly. Don’t draw too much attention to him though, because if he’s out of commission, there will be no one to control the girls, leading to a game over.
Monsters and blood aren’t the only dangers in the prison, because the prison itself serves as both a lethal opponent and a helpful ally depending on the situation. Each area in the prison is guarded by a boss that hangs around outside the prison walls. These cheaters can attack you from the outside without allowing you to fight back, forcing the team to be on their toes as they dodge incoming hazards during exploration, all while avoiding the traps that the prison itself holds. The benefit however, is that some traps can be used to your benefit. Activating the right ones at the right time can damage the boss, bringing them down to your level and allowing you to battle them with a more traditional turn based system. As you play, the dungeon will also have its own set of desires that you’re asked to fulfill for combat bonuses. For example, if its feeling lustful, continuously licking will satisfy its need for waifu on waifu action. And you thought the showers were the only place that you had to worry about perverts in jail.
What made Mary Skelter stand out to me more than anything was its ability to keep you on your toes at all times. I’ve played plenty of first person dungeon crawlers where traveling becomes a chore after awhile since you can only look at the same walls for so long before it gets old. This game doesn’t give you the chance to get worn out out since you’re constantly under attack. With its unique mechanics, the ability to take characters like Alice, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella and customize their classes and abilities to make your custom fairy tale fighting squad, being able to de-level your characters to power up low level classes, and the focus on the dungeon as its own entity, and its easy to see why such an interesting take on the genre has piqued my interest. Besides, haven’t you always wanted to taste Snow White?
Mary Skelter: Nightmare will release on the PS Vita this summer.