Just the other day I said that I was happy about the number of Japanese developers porting their game to Steam! It’s still true, of course…but there are times when you have to face the sad reality that they can’t all be winners. We’ve seen iffy releases here and there like Bandai Namco’s catastrophic port of Tales of Symphonia; they’re the exception rather than the rule, but it’s still disheartening when this happens.
Speaking of disheartening, it’s time to talk about the Steam release of Acquire’s 2013 PS Vita dungeon crawler Mind Zero!
Mind Zero’s got a number of issues, don’t get me wrong, but perhaps the most obvious is that it would very much like to be another game. In particular, Mind Zero wants to be a Persona game. We all know that video games loving ripping off each other, but in this case it’s so egregious as to detract from the experience.
So we’ve got our generic anime hero, Kei, whose life is flipped-turned-upside-down when he visits a dream world, meets an enigmatic caretaker of that dream world and obtains the power to summon a Person–er, I mean a MIND. That’s “Major Inner Node Displacement,” but basically it’s just a Persona without the cool mythological or tarot references. Kei then teams up with other MIND users to explore dungeons and defeat baddies. If you’ve played Persona 4, you’re going to come across a lot of suspiciously similar characters and situations here; perhaps the only really interesting character is Kei himself solely because he isn’t a silent protagonist.
Dungeon exploration is first-person, combat is turn-based, none of it is especially inspiring. Shockingly, battle plays out much like Persona. Your characters’ MINDs allow them to use magic, naturally, and there are elemental resistances and weaknesses in play that you’ll have to exploit. In perhaps the game’s only neat twist, MINDs also protect characters when summoned, so balancing having a MIND out or not becomes a strategic decision as well. Finding new skills for your MINDs can be entertaining at times, but that’s about as far as character customization goes, and this isn’t enough to save the gameplay from turning into one bland dungeon crawl after another.
Mind Zero isn’t all bad, really, it’s just a little dull. I’ve played my share of bland dungeon crawls, after all, and there’s some pretty nice art on display. No, the main issue here is the quality of this game’s port. Not only did Mind Zero fail to detect my controller upon startup, it actually doesn’t seem possible to use one at all. What’s more, there aren’t any graphical or resolution options whatsoever; you can set the game to run in fullscreen, but even that doesn’t seem to work. For what it’s worth, I didn’t see any crashes or serious bugs while playing, but the lack of controller support or a decent resolution made Mind Zero a painful experience regardless.
With that said, it’s difficult to recommend the Steam version of Mind Zero. If you really, really want to play this one, the PS Vita version is still readily available. You don’t even have to play that one with a keyboard, so it’s the way to go in my view. But even on its own merits, Mind Zero doesn’t do enough to stand out from a crowd of better choices. You can probably find a better use for your time.