If I had to pick a pet peeve regarding the modern gaming community, it would probably be the incessant whining about anti-consumer practices. How terrible that there’s several storefronts from which to choose when it comes to buying games! It’s the worst that there’s nearly nonstop massive sales on everything, resulting in more games than one can possibly play! It’s the worst. Sometimes, in fact, we get games that are generous to a fault – Mary Skelter 2, for instance, which comes with the entire original game just because – and yet people still have problems with the modern industry. Who knows, right?
Anyway, Tokyo’s not in the best way. It seems to get destroyed a lot in these games, actually, and I imagine the property values aren’t great. This time it got wrecked by a giant organic tower called the Jail that took all the inhabitants captive, using monstrous guards known as Marchen to keep humanity down. There’s a few humans left who can still stand up to the Marchen, though – the Blood Maidens, who can enter berserk states when covered in Marchen blood. We follow Otsuu and Little Mermaid, a pair of Blood Maidens who fight with the anti-Jail resistance to save mankind. If you’ve played the original Mary Skelter: Nightmares, you’ll get a kick out of the plot here – it’s a similar concept that’s twisted in an entirely new direction thanks to a key event that changes early on. The fact that Little Mermaid’s still around might clue you in…
In gameplay terms, Mary Skelter 2 plays a lot like the original. You’ll explore floors, creating a map as you go and sniffing out secrets, and battle monsters when they show up. That includes both random encounters and more powerful monsters called Nightmares that need to be rendered vulnerable via special conditions before they can be defeated. Dungeons in Mary Skelter tend to be pretty heavy on puzzles and gimmicks thanks to the Blood Maidens’ field abilities, including magnetism and a summonable bamboo ball for filling pits.
Combat is turn-based with a couple interesting twists; characters accumulate blood as they fight, which can be spent either on power boosts or on support abilities via, er, licking. Characters with plenty of blood can enter the superpowered Massacre and Blood Skelter modes, meaning blood management is a pretty big deal. Additionally, protagonist Otsuu has a teammate in the form of…uh, you’ll see, especially if you played the first game. Point being that she gets double turns and has access to some unique abilities besides. You’ll also need to customize your characters’ skills and jobs to ensure that they’re prepared for all the nastiness you’ll face. Even with preparation, expect some difficulty – a bad ambush can easily wipe your party out.
The similarities to the original also extend to Mary Skelter 2’s presentation. They’re very similar games, with complex dungeon layouts, bizarre enemy designs and stylish outfits for your various Blood Maidens’ jobs. Mercifully, the winding and intricate map designs can be efficiently navigated thanks to an auto-pathing feature.
They’re so similar, in fact, that Mary Skelter 2 comes with the original included as mentioned earlier. That means that even newcomers should check out this game, since they can simply move on to the original when they’re done – you’re meant to play the sequel first, as it turns out, and Mary Skelter: Nightmares comes with some quality-of-life enhancements in this version. With that in mind, fans of dungeon crawlers will get a ton of excellent content here for a great price. If the anime aesthetic doesn’t turn you off – and why would it? – then go nuts.