Tag Archives: Compile Heart

NCG Review – Mary Skelter: Nightmares (PSVita)

Details

Title: Mary Skelter: Nightmares
Platform: PlayStation Vita; PlayStation TV
Genre: First-person dungeon RPG
Release Date: September 19, 2017 (NA)/September 22, 2017 (EU)
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International

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Story

Jack and Alice live of life of suffering within the prison walls.  Everyday they are taken by the Marchens and mercilessly tortured yet, somehow, their spirit has not broken.  Alice, however, is  close to the brink of insanity.  When her emotional state becomes unstable, her eyes turn pink.  In order to ease her suffering, Jack offers Alice his blood which always returns her back to normal.  One day, they are rescued by a girl with scissors and pink blood.  She claims Alice is a Blood Maiden which is why she has come to rescue her.

Alice and Jack are saved! They are taken back to a group called Dawn that live in the “Liberated District”.  Although, Dawn’s intentions seem questionable,  Jack and Alice vow to help them, and the other Blood Maidens, figure out how to escape the Prison for good.

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The story is fun to play through because there are so many mysteries you want answers too.  For example, what is Dawn and what are their true intentions? You meet another group called the Order, who seem like a religious cult, but you can’t tell if they are good or bad so you want to continue playing to find out.

Between chapters are story-like cut scenes that tell a fairytale-esque story.   The stories allude to what is happening to the characters in that chapter, or at least one aspect of the mystery that you are trying to solve while playing the game.  While not graphically stimulating, the stories are fun to read.

The highlight of the game is the theme.  At lease for fans who really enjoy Alice in Wonderland/fairy tale themes. Character names are taken straight from the classics, for example: Alice, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc.   Even monsters look like they’ve been plucked from a twisted story book.  In addition to the overall look and feel of the game, there are many story telling elements that keep you intrigued. It’s hard to put the game down when you just want to see what happens next!

Characters (3)

Game Play

Mary Skelter: Nightmares plays as your typical first-person dungeon RPG.  You explore the dungeon and try to get to the next event point so the story will progress. What I really enjoy about the dungeon in Mary Skelter is how interactive the dungeon is.  Character abilities help you open up new areas and you must solve puzzles to unlock more areas.  Maps are massive and you can easily spend a few hours lost in one area. This, like every other dungeon crawler, can get very tedious, especially if you choose to go back to HQ and restore your health and re-stock on items.  You might end up wasting more time and energy getting back to the point you left off at.  Fortunately, there is an auto-walk option so you can set your location and the game will automatically move you.  Although the maps are massive and can feel tedious, there are many secrets and paths for you to find and explore.  Another major plus to the game is that you can walk more than 10 steps without encountering an obnoxious battle.  You do get to explore the dungeon to some length before facing enemies.

Since the “Prison” you are exploring is a living thing, the dungeon has three desires: Hunger, Libido, and Sleep.  Each interaction you have in the dungeon (finding objects, covering an area with a lot of blood, etc.) affects the desires and triggers a “Dungeon Bonus Roulette” round where you can get a buff or bonus.

Dungeons (2)

The  point of exploring the dungeon is to find the Core of the dungeon and destroy it.  There are two types of monsters you will encounter: Marchens and Nightmares.  Marchens are the monsters you encounter during a typical battle.  Nightmares are the big boss of the dungeon.  While you are exploring, a Nightmare will randomly try to pursue you.  Without having destroyed the core of the dungeon, you cannot defeat the Nightmare.  If you encounter the Nightmare without  having destroyed the core, you have a chance to run away since the Nightmare will chase you, or you can to try to knock it down and then run away in case you’re stuck in a corner.  Note: try to stay out of blocked areas if you think a Nightmare is headed your way!  After you destroy the core, you can fight the Nightmare and, of course, as per RPG game play rule number 67 (I just made that up, right now) “you cannot escape the battle until the Nightmare is defeated, so be prepared.”

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Battles are all turn based and fighting options are the RPG game play rule number 26 (yes, I just made up another number) standard . You can attack, use a skill, lick (when the option is available), defend, or escape.

Battle (4)

Blood is a central theme to the game.  When you hit the Marchens with critical hits or target their weakness,  blood will splatter on the Blood Maidens (yes, this is going where you think it’s going). When the blood splatter meter maximizes, the girls will go into a Massacre mode where their stats increase and they gain a new skill. This is where Jack comes in.  He is a support character whose sole responsibility in the party is to keep the Blood Maidens from entering the Blood Skelter, and to help keep them alive.  You do not want the Blood Maidens to go into Skelter Mode because they become OP and can potentially knock out your entire team. The blood splatter from the Marchens can get “corrupted”, so it is up to Jack to use a weapon called a Mary Gun to “purify” the girls by rubbing his blood all over them.  And yes, this does go into a physical touch scene (a little bit later in the game) where being rubbed with Jack’s blood purifies them and it “feels so good”.   Keep in mind, there is a limit to how much blood Jack can produce so you need to find a balance between purification and restoring blood.

Blood Skelter Mode (2)

Jack is a versatile support character.  You can use him to purify the Blood Maidens, or he can guard (take damage from the enemy instead of a Blood Maiden), and use items; he doesn’t necessarily have to be used strictly for purification.  As mentioned earlier, during battle the Blood Maidens can “lick” the blood from one another.  This not only clears the blood meter but will come with HP or SP bonuses, or a buff.  The downside to using “lick” is you don’t get to hit the enemies. But,  the Blood Maidens do start to get pretty shy when this happens…

Battle (9)

Equipping your characters is also pretty basic.  Weapons can be upgraded and reach maximum potential.  At the end of each battle you collect Blood Stones which can be used at Dawn Headquarters to upgrade weapons.

Lastly, Headquarters.  You can rest at headquarters, save, upgrade weapons, and buy items.  In addition to the basics, you get to visit the Blood Maiden’s rooms. And yes, you have to give them things in order to gain their favor because it will affect the outcome and ending of the game.  This is my least favorite part of the game because it feels so contrived.  I think the game itself would have been fine without the obligatory fan service aspect of the game.  But, if fan service is what players always want, fan service is what players will get!

Overall, the dungeons have a nice pace to them.  Once you figure out one aspect of a dungeon, the next becomes slightly more difficult with more elements you’ll have to utilize.

Graphics

Graphics aren’t too impressive, however, I love the themes of each dungeon. But, even though the backgrounds move and the themes are fun, when you’re stuck in the same dungeon for over an hour, everything starts to blend together.

Battle graphics are also nothing to get excited over, either.  You don’t get to watch the girls in action, but rather a customized slash. For example, Sleeping Beauty shoots out daggers during a regular attack.

The monsters look like they’ve been pulled from a twisted fairy tale.  Of course, as per RPG developer laziness, monsters in different areas at different levels are all just re-skinned so you encounter the same creature over and over again, just with different colors.

Battle (10)

Audio

The music sets the tone for each dungeon.  My favorite is definitely the initial City Streets dungeon.  You feel like you’re in a fun house, and rightly so because of the maze-like/ wonderland aspect of the dungeon.

Verdict

Pros:

The dungeons are fun to explore.  There are many secrets to discover and a lot of ways to interact with the dungeon through puzzles and character skills.

What I really enjoy is the overall theme of the game.  I’m a huge sucker for fairy tale/Alice in Wonderland themes so it was easy for me to get into the game.

The story feels basic, but it builds up enough that you want to see what will happen next.

Cons:

Dungeons are extremely large and if you aren’t looking at your map, it is easy to get lost.  The repetitious design and large map area  make dungeon exploring feel monotonous and daunting. Especially if you set the game down for a day or so – you forget where you’re supposed to go.

Overall design is not that impressive.  There is variation to the dungeons, but when you’re in the same dungeon for a while it all becomes the same. If you don’t like getting lost in giant mazes this probably isn’t the game for you.

I find the attempt at fan service to be very forced.  I feel like the story is meant to be a dark tale, however, elements are incorporated into the game just so the game can provide fan service which I feel is completely unnecessary.

Score

Overall, I would rate this title an 8/10. Yeah, the dungeons can get tedious (this is a dungeon crawler, after all), but I think the concept and mysteries are enough to keep players interested in the title.

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online Opening Movie

Nep Nep is back with more hack ‘n’ slash adventures.  Our favorite four goddesses join an online fantasy game inspired by themselves! Players can fight in 4-person real-time brawls, unleash Awakening Skills, customize your gear, and play online with others.  Playing an online game where your online? Can we call this one Nepception? Shut up, Stellar? Got it.

Be sure to check out the opening movie below!

NCG Review – Dark Rose Valkyrie (Playstation 4)

When players think of Compile Heart and Idea Factory titles, the first series that comes to mind is the Neptunia series. This time around we see a new tile, Dark Rose Valkyrie, with characters designed by the one and only Kosuke Fujishima and story written by Takumi Mayjima. Two veterans who have worked on many of the Tales series.

Story

The story takes place in Japan during 1929 where a meteorite has fallen and started to spread a disease called “Chimera” which turns people into monsters. Players take control of Asahi who is a “male” a member of  “Special Force Valkyrie”. Special Force Valkyrie is a group, which is mainly recruits of females, who are ordered to take out the Chimera infected people to stop the virus from spreading. This is important because its part of the main story plot.Untitled-5.png

The story was very engaging as players see who Asahi interacts with each character in the main base with its visual novel approach. It might not be a story a lot of new JRPG players will enjoy, but veteran players will feel right at home as the story unfolds. During my time with the title, I never was left wondering why the scenarios happen and really enjoyed how it never fall apart from beginning to end.

Audio

The voice acting drifts away from the usual quirky goofy story line that Compile Heart and Idea Factory is known for and is spot on for each character. As for the soundtrack, it was uplifting at points in the main base and during battles the music had me ready to get the Chimera infection out of my way.  Honestly, the music was my favorite part of the JRPG as a whole, as it will have players fall into the nostalgic style of JRPG soundtracks with original background music. As for the sound effects, they got rather dull and repetitive through out my battles.  You can only hear the same attack sounds for each character so many times until you ask yourself, WHY!Untitled-6.png

Graphics

The graphics of Dark Rose Valkyrie look dated, or that they should be on a portable for what it presents. They were very blocky and reminded me of the early PS3 or even PS2 era. I would have liked to see a little more work on the models, but they stood up to what the story and anime-look the game gave out. As for the particle effects from the battles though, they were flashy, and what to expect from any JRPG.Dark Rose Valkyrie_20170517190218

New players will probably be turned off from this, but for JRPG fans, graphics aren’t everything. They never turned me off from what was going on. One thing to point out though, is that the level design and model designs were a perfect fight for the game, as you spend most of your time in maps exploring from point A to B to unfold the story.Dark Rose Valkyrie_20170807182930.png

Gameplay

Dark Rose Valkyrie’s play style differs from most JRPG’s. When first entering a battle players might think this title is a traditional turn base battle system, which it sort of is, but with a combo system. Each character has a specific weapon and moves sets that you can combine with other character attacks. This was one of the best parts of Dark Rose Valkyrie, but it eventually falls flat and becomes very repetitive.

Each attack is set to each button on the dualshock 4, and depending on which attack is used, it will cost a different amount of time for that character to be able to attack on the next turn. This is where the combo system takes place. While you pick an attack you have to strategize which attack to use to get rid of the infected, and take them out with ease. I say “ease” because for a while you will feel over-powered, until you make your way further in the game where it actually gets a bit harder, but you will still be doing the same attacks throughout the game.Dark Rose Valkyrie_20170517185124

The maps are another part that lacks in the title, as they feel empty most of the time. Players will find themselves running through maps with no enemies for the most part, and will be wondering why. The main maps look awesome but then you hit the overworld, where the game looks very old graphically, and even more empty.

Verdict

Dark Rose Valkyrie isn’t for newcomers, but rather JRPG veterans. Veterans can look past most of the graphics, and find enjoyment out of this title, but it won’t leave a lasting impression. As for me, I enjoyed the title, but would recommend it as a pick up in between bigger JRPG’s. It made me really sad as I had high hopes for the title after I first saw it in action during the Idea Factory press event. The most enjoyment is mainly the story and the audio out of everything.

Score

 

NCG Review: Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls

Making its North American debut on October 18th for the PlayStation Vita, Idea Factory brings us Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls; an awesome crossover between Sega Hard Girls and the Neptunia dimension.

Story

After making it to the Grand Library, IF encounters the disaster or all disasters: history is being erased!   IF and Segami journey through time to uncover the mystery of why history is being erased.  As they jump to different eras (Sega eras) they discover the CPU’s and Sega Hard Girls are at odds with one another sending waves of destruction across the land.  It is up to Segami and IF to make things right and restore history. Where is Neptune in this story (she is in the title after all)? She’s IF’s motorcycle, of course!

Game Play

The game plays similar to the basic RPG style of turn-based Neptunia games. What makes the game play stand out from other titles is the variety of action you can take during a turn. For example, you can run, jump, and collect gem power ups (for more SP, HP, etc.) including a special rainbow gem that unleashes Fever Time when you have reached maximum fever. Your action is limited to your meter gauge; the more actions your perform during a turn your gauge will increase and max out. This increases the amount of actions you can take per turn so you can hit a monster or two, buff up, or heal if you need to.  Adventuring through the levels is also a lot of fun because you can jump, climb, and run through the level; the playing field is more dynamic.  Of course, you still have the generic monsters roaming area.2016-10-05-200850

Graphics

I can’t say the graphics are spectacular or off the chart.  You are still venturing in essentially the same levels and encounter the same monsters that are in every other Neptunia game out there.  Action cut scenes when you unleash a special move are also nothing to boast about.  The game feels like it should be on the PlayStation 4 platform VS the Vita because moves and cut scenes feel choppy.2016-10-18-190621

Verdict

Pros: The story is fun to play through and meeting the Sega Hard Girls in a Neptunia game is the perfect mix; they belong together.  It was also awesome seeing other Sega Hard Girls (outside of Mega Drive, Saturn, and Dreamcast) each with their own personalities relative to their systems. Neptune makes the game (for me, anyway) taking on the role of comic relief; Segami and IF are both pretty serious characters so Neptune breaks the tension. Neptune is especially funny because she becomes a motorcycle;  I’d say it makes the perfect material for jokes. 2016-10-10-201040

The addition of running, jumping, climbing, and crawling creates a more dynamic feel to the Dungeons.  Actions are limited, but it gives you more to do other than run through to fight monsters and search for the Event point; it pushes you to explore entire maps.

Cons: I was so disappointed that I’m not actually playing the Sega Hard Girls.  Instead, they’re “clones” gathered from data or Segami transforms into them and uses their powers.  Sure, you can argue you are still playing as the Sega Hard Girls, but having them be a “clone” removes me from their character and I feel like it took away from the novelty of even having them on my team. That’s not to say you’re not meeting the “real” Sega Hard Girls, but their personalities do fall short compared to the show.  However, I do like stepping away from the main Neptunia cast and getting in some game play with new characters. Plutia has become a new fave.2016-10-12-222635

The story feels like it hits a dead end too soon.  Early on, you unravel the mystery and the game goes from playing a story into playing missions to level up so you can defeat the anti-climatically revealed boss.  Each mission weakens the boss and that gives you ample time to level up and beat it.  Where’s the surprise and lust to continue when you already know what it is?

I felt the game was also unbalanced.  You are given missions, but some of them are impossible to beat.  There’s also an imposed time limit where you have an X amount of time to clear the mission, otherwise your final monster gets the upper-hand and you have to delve into the past once more.  Some missions supplement the story, but I hit the point where I have to (no surprise, this is an RPG after all) grind to level up and fight a boss.  Since I wasn’t leveled up enough, and the mission didn’t give me an idea of how strong I needed my team to be, I was fighting battles where my attacks did zero damage and my entire team was taken out in one hit.  Then, it was back to the Main Menu with a lot of grumbling on my part.  Dungeons also felt unbalanced since the monsters didn’t level up with my characters.  There was no consistent challenge -I either took monsters out in one hit, or I was completely annihilated in one blow.

Overall, the game did not meet my expectations.  The story is fun, and of course I love the characters.  I loved how the game was a little more dynamic letting you adventure more through the levels, but being so unbalanced and turning the story into missions deterred my enjoyment.  Not to mention you aren’t actually playing as the Sega Hard Girls.  Fans of the franchise will appreciate it, but don’t pick up the title with high expectations.

Will you be picking up this game? Let me know in the comments!

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