Mary Skelter 2 Gameplay Preview

Developed by Idea Factory, published by Ghostlight LTD. – January 13, 2022 (PS4, S, PC)
*MSRP: $34.99 – https://store.steampowered.com/app/1496250/Mary_Skelter_2/

Mary Skelter 2 is a visual novel interspersed with 3D dungeon crawling segments like those one would find in Etrian Odyssey. The visual novel segments are pretty lengthy, with a many lines of voice acted dialogue so those expecting a full dungeon crawler should meter their expectations.

Massacre mode has some pretty darn useful skills. It’s a shame that it’s only temporary.

The dungeon crawling is pretty fun and the game does throw in some unique and quirky mechanics. There is an interesting mechanic of powering up a meter with blood splatters obtained by landing a critical hit or an overkill on an enemy unit. You have the option of waiting for the blood splatter meter to fill up to enter massacre mode, where the characters get a massive boost and unlock temporary but powerful abilities. You can also lick the blood off of a character to unlock healing abilities at the cost of removing all the blood splatters. It’s an interesting mechanic where you can choose to focus on offense or defense as needed.

You can lick the blood splatters to unlock defensive abilities. The abilities differ based on who is licked.

There is also a mechanic where you must run away from an unkillable enemy every once in a while, while navigating the level and fighting off the normal enemies. It’s an interesting concept that did make the game feel more frantic and a nice twist to the standard dungeon crawling formula.

The visual novel sequences may not be for everyone. I did find a few sections to be a bit cringey as I am turning into an old, jaded person but for the most part, I did enjoy the story.

As for the visual novel segments, it is very much like an anime so take that as you will. The story centers around a town literally called Jail where the inhabitants are held prisoner by monsters known as Marchen. The Blood Maidens are mysterious beings that gain power when splattered with blood and a new Blood Maiden has appeared. The protagonists of the story go on a search for this new potential comrade and as soon as they find her, things escalate rather quickly.

Most of the dialogue is voice acted and you have the option to select either English or Japanese voice acting at the very beginning of the game. You can change it later on as well in a room. While purists may claim subs over dubs, I found the English voice acting to be enjoyable enough.

I do have a soft spot for 3D dungeon crawlers thanks to Etrian Odyssey.

Overall, Mary Skelter 2 is a pretty balanced visual novel and dungeon crawler. The narrative bits actually do a great job of breaking up the tedium of dungeon crawling and vice versa. The mechanics are pretty unique and enjoyable as well. The different aspects of the game balance each other out and add a sense of variety that a dungeon crawler would oftentimes lack.

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