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Mary Skelter: Nightmares

The "Jail" suddenly appeared a number of years ago, sinking the city deep into the ground. There, this impenetrable living prison 666 metres beneath the surface, held power over eerie creatures called "Marchens."  Within the prison was a boy named Jack - living a life of suffering, tortured day in and day out, in a world where all dreams, hopes, peace, and humanity had been lost for as long as the people could remember. Then one day, amidst the darkness that prevailed, a girl who called herself a member of the Blood Team appeared before Jack, holding giant scissors dripping in blood! This marked the beginning of fate - of Jack's and the Blood Maidens' escape from the Jail...  Jack and the Blood Team will face countless perils in regaining all that has been lost, to finally escape once and for all! 
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Gretel is my Waifu!
Great dungeon crawler game
・Story
☑ Great Story
☑ Gretel
・Artwork
☑ Awesome graphics
☑ Gretel
・Voice Acting
☑ Both Japanese and English are nice
☑ Gretel
・Character
☑ Lovely characters
☑ Gretel
Summary
+ Fun gameplay
+ Great story
+ Awesome graphics
+ Lovely characters
+ Nice voice acting
+ Gretel
- Some bugs may make game crash, Save your game frequently
Score: 9.5/10
Highly Recommended!!!

Review from Steam

Bad news first- the port quality kind of sucks; the only graphics option is the screen resolution. It does however, run extremely well and at high framerates.
The game itself is arguably one of the Vita's best RPGs and it's great that more people can give it a shot. It's not perfect, mind (there's some real issues with the game's difficulty curve and the characters and plot are standard anime cheese) but the combat is mechanically interesting and the dungeons are very well thought-out. It's still a ton of fun and it's really easy to recommend at the launch price.

Review from Steam

The Good
+ Intriguing storyline that maintains the player's curiousity (sort of)
+ Extensive class system allows for both casual play and hardcore minmaxing
+ Adjustable difficulty during gameplay
+ Music is nice and sets the atmosphere well
+ Combat has some neat gimmicks and skills
+ Large cast of characters lets you play favorites
+ Has waifus you can rub down for bonus stats (if you're into that sort of thing)
The Bad
- If you're really paying attention, the story "twist" becomes transparent
- Exploring every inch of a map isn't rewarding at all
- Party composition can stagnate quickly since there's little reason to ever swap
- Collecting blood points quickly becomes tedious
- A certain character's teleport ability trivializes deep dungeon crawling
- More anime tropes than you can shake a useless average male protagonist at
All in all, I feel that it's at least worth a playthough. If you've never played a first-person dungeon crawler, it may be a great introduction for you. If you're a bit of a veteran, there are ways to challenge yourself in the game. Plus, the port turned out pretty good.

Review from Steam

Mysterious and Fun: VN/JRPG Hybrid Mary Skelter: N is a Decent One
6.5/10.0
Quick note:
I'm familiar with IF and Compa's work (Neptunia RB 1,2,3 and Megadimension VIII). I've also played Dragon Quest XI and VIII, Final Fantasy IV, X, XIII and Resonance of Fate (also the Tales series)
Story
+ Mysterious and carefully made
+ Great VN style cutscenes
+ Great slice of life moments
+ Decent endings
+ Writing tries to match characters true to their fairytale/fantasy origin (e.g. Jack has an urge to climb stuff, due to.. reasons)
+/- A lot of boob jokes
- Didn't get emotionally destroyed with the bad ending
- Some obvious foreshadowing that fell a little flat
- Idea Factory still has yet to learn to add more English voices during cutscenes; there's plenty of Japanese though.
Characters
Probably the strongest part of the game.
Alice is best girl.
+ Distinct personalities from the Blood Maidens you encounter and befriend
+ Affection options which create slice-of-life events which are both adorable and quite effective
+ Main characters and side characters have good displays of emotion and hint at backstory which is quite nice
- Repeated dialog notifs from characters which become annoying and redundant rather than pleasant (e.g. "I suppose I can do this so I can be lazy at home" - Motivations stated a bit too frequently)
- Some character development is too rushed in an effort to display it (e.g. character may state a lesson they've learnt in a very overly obvious way which is not needed. Show-don't-tell strategy may have worked better.
-/+ Fan service purge and slice-of-life events
Graphics
The weakest aspect of the game. May be due to the PS Vita port method (?)
+ General ideas / objects in the dungeon designs are quite clever
+ The bosses of every dungeon are quite unique and nightmarish looking at times.
+ Characters during cutscenes are really well designed and look gorgeous thanks to the slightly animated style (including all costumes!!)
- Enemy models all are visually lackluster
- Dungeons are visually lackluster (anti aliasing plz)
- Lack of variety across the basic enemies
Soundtrack
- Some annoying tracks
+ Some memorable tracks
+ Evokes a nice mood to the game. Cryptic and gothic.
Gameplay
+ Engaging battle system (+ SKIP FEATURE!!)
+ Upgrade systems and new 'job roles' (aka classes) which add strategy and variety
+ Sub-plots and extra events can help with the slightly tiring job of exploring the dungeon floors - it's an incentive to actually bother
- Progressing can be difficult due to no objective reminders
- You can really rush this game if you just pick some clearly overpowered classes
- Some design flaws revolving around XP earned and difficulty to match create a strange battle feel.
- Attempting to reduce the encounter rate doesn't really do much. Your encounters are very frequent
Post-Game / Replay Value
Game might take you 40-60 hours depending on if you care about the story, skip events etc.
+ Good opportunity for post game
- Dungeon crawling and essentially doing the same thing with little variety (exploration with hard-to-avoid encounters) doesn't leave a lot of room for replay value.

Review from Steam

Introduction
The appeal of “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” shall never cease to amaze me. Literary nonsense with enough hidden meaning to leave room for interpretation, if you will. The game I’m reviewing today is Mary Skelter: Nightmares and its many topics all seem to converge towards a very similar theme and feel I experienced while either reading Lewis Carrol or watching any film adaptations for his well known writings bordering creative absurdity. If you were only expecting another JRPG/Visual Novel hybrid with cheesy bits “gluing” it in a single formulaic piece, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. As a project developed by industry veterans Idea Factory (24 years of experience) and published by the equally prolific Ghostlight LTD, Mary Skelter brings something new to the table in terms of both complexity and narrative novelty.
Story
Indeed, one of the game’s main characters is named Alice. A very interesting feature, players shall unravel this tale from the perspective of Jack, which can be regarded as a glorified sidekick more than anything else. It’s a storyline filled with supernatural elements but I shall do my best to summarize it without spoiling anything. It all starts like yet another post-apocalyptic scenario in which civilization has crumbled to pieces and in its wake, humanity is still determined to scrape off a living of sorts. The corruption which derailed the natural order of things, seems to be of organic nature. I could compare it to a Zerg infestation, only that we’re referring to these creatures as “Marchens” now. Humans who weren’t “lucky” enough enough to perish in the initial struggle, have been enslaved and constantly tortured by the corrupted entities which never releaved their plans or motivations. The prologue finds Alice and Jack within a Marchen prison from a City of many unsolved mysteries refusing to reveal themselves.
An escape plan eventually succeeds with the help of a Blood Maiden which reveals that Alice is also in possession of secret powers, crucial in defeating the creeping corruption. The story is not convoluted and it does become somewhat clearer once you’ll familiarize yourself with the large cast of characters. Factions play an important role in Mary Skelter and it’s obvious that each party has its own agenda which they’ll seldomly share, if at all. Just keep in mind that you’re helping out in humanity’s last ditch effort of saving the last settlement that’s untainted. As in any decent JRPG, morality bares many more shades than just black or white. Not all battles shall be against Marchens, in the same manner in which combat itself will sometimes revolve around ideas and perceived truths instead of actually striking established foes. Appearances are always deceiving, but you knew that, right?
Graphics
I couldn’t find intel about the graphics engine used by Mary Skelter, so I’ll default to my assumption that it’s proprietary to Idea Factory. It certainly isn’t Unity, since I actually had to fiddle with this title’s files before I had a smooth experience and could finally play it on my terms. Initially, I noticed severe frame rate issues and crashes to desktop which were somehow cause by the antivirus. We’re not talking of another case of “dear” Denuvo here, but regardless of the actual culprit, the gameplay was sorted out with the publisher’s assistance through the official Community thread containing fixes & tips. After the “dust had settled”, Mary Skelter: Nightmares ran as expected to maxed out details and [email protected]
Audio
Most of the in-game songs are curiously uplifting and add an extra layer of sinisterness which I guess it’s pretty much what I’d expect given the topics. For the most part, the voice acting hit the right target even if some characters seem to lack enthusiasm. It always slightly bothers me that Visual Novels only have spoken lines of dialogue for roughly half the size of the “endless” amounts of text. And no, I don’t mind reading at all, but I’d rather hear the characters since that’s what ultimately separates video games from interactive books. The soundtrack fully compensates for the lackluster diversity of various other sounds.
Gameplay
If you were somehow still convinced that you’re going to play some lighthearted version of Wonderland, let me make it very clear that you’re more likely to experience something more attuned to American McGee's Alice, without nearly as much insanity thrown into the mix. But there will be plenty of blood and violence. Sanguinary action which literally fuels the Blood Maidens in their frantic struggles against the numerically superior Marchens and the true threats to your continued existence: Nightmares. Consider these as boss fights from which you’d best turn around and flee from an otherwise predictable outcome. There’s a very interesting chase mechanic in this title as it adds further pressure since you’re already randomly attacked from low-tier mobs. The last thing you want is to get pinned down by a seemingly invincible creature which revels in endless bloodshed.
It mirrors the proclivity of the Blood Maidens themselves in more ways than you’d imagine. Once a heroine enters the Blood Skelter mode, she’s a potential threat to both the party and any opposition. Two dangerous sides of a single coin. “Regular” power build-up results in the more manageable Massacre mode, even if its name doesn’t really imply any more control over the situation than in the case of the Skelter. All of this adds much needed flavor to a turn-based combat that would otherwise become stale fairly fast, given the frequency of the attacks you’ll be subjected to. If you’re even remotely familiar to JRPGs, you know that defense is far more important than a ceaseless offensive. Jack specializes in this field, so to speak. Basically, he acts as a damage sponge for the Blood Maidens which resemble proverbial glass cannons more often than I’d like to admit.
It’s not an easy game and you’ll be truly grateful for the peaceful segments in which you can focus on socializing with either factions or individual characters. A form of base building is present, same as an economy and the “inescapable” romance subplots featuring auxiliary mechanics which constantly remind you of what you’re actually fighting for. Let’s just say that you’ll have to gain the trust of the Blood Maidens before they’ll unlock their full potential. The City is separated by Districts, each with its own distinct look and challenges. While you can return to your HQ at will, you may find the saving system to be a poor implementation of sparsely located points which translate into far too much backtracking. For this high risk, high reward scenario, you’ll have to adapt and weather the incoming Marchen storm.
Verdict
Once you understand what you’re up against and also come to terms with the somewhat ambiguous narrative threads, you’ll certainly enjoy Mary Skelter: Nightmares as much as I have. Just take everything you see in this game with a large grain of salt. Keep an open mind and have the necessary patience for exploration in not the most welcoming of conditions. Eventually, you may notice that even “nonsense” has a hidden purpose in tow with an important lesson or two.
Strong Points
+ Pleasant graphics and sounds.
+ Interesting storyline & characters.
+ Challenging and diversified gameplay.
+ Steam Trading Cards & Achievements.
Weak Points
- Lots of grinding & backtracking.
- Annoying saving system.
- Not enough voice acting.
Rating 85/100
This review was submitted for Fun Fab Game Reviews through the Steam Curator Connect program.

Review from Steam

Mary Skelter Nightmares
Story ★★★★☆
Escape the Prison
♥You are a prisoner, trying to escape a prison that is literally alive and deep within the ground
Character Events
♥As you progress through the chapters and increase your affection with the Blood Maidens, you will unlock their events
Mechanics ★★★★☆
Main Character
♥Main character is unique in the sense that he doesn't fight himself, but rather uses items and his blood to assist the Blood Maidens
Blood Maidens
♥Blood maidens are your battle ready characters who are able to fight against the special type of enemies that reside in the prison, pointing them in the front or back of the party is key to success
Job Changes
♥There is multiple jobs, characters have the ability to switch to, which also effects their cosmetic look in both the VN portions and combat.
Blood Devolution
♥Lower the character's levels to gain better stat bonuses and CP to invest into skills. Which is a fun way to make it so your character can get stronger beyond the typical level 99 cap sort of system many RPG games have.
Developing Skills
♥You can develop skills by using CP, which allows a lot of customization on how you want your characters to develop as they level.
Exploration Skills
♥Each character has a unique exploration skill, that helps you advance through the dungeon in different ways, in order to uncover the many treasures hidden within.
Enemy Events
♥There is a special symbol for events that get triggered by walking into them, which makes enemies appear normally…
Random Encounters
♥Minding your own business, all of a sudden the screen explodes, and you enter into a random encounter with rude monsters
Nightmares
♥Nightmares are the unique bosses for each area, and are the only enemy type to be able to move without you doing anything, so being quick to navigate the dungeon is key to escape them
Prison has Feelings!
♥The prison is a living creature, and will reward you for satisfying certain requirements, like finding treasure, attacking enemies, or winning a battle unscathed.
Overall ★★★★☆ - Great

Review from Steam

Still waiting for the 2nd game to get ported to PC
Akazukin best girl