Mary Skelter Finale (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 03.05.2022

Review for Mary Skelter Finale on Nintendo Switch

Commencing immediately after the true ending of the first game Mary Skelter: Nightmares which can only happen once the second game Mary Skelter 2 is complete, the third and final title in the trilogy, Mary Skelter Finale, from Compile Heart and Idea Factory, begins on Nintendo Switch with quite a turn of events. Reaching the surface after being underground all their lives, Alice, Jack and all their friends in the Dawn observe a world that is the opposite of the imagined paradise. Death not only surrounds them as far as the eye can see but actively chases after them in the form of four girls with superhuman strength called Massacre Pink. Some members of the Dawn get injured in the introduction, and it is only thanks to the NPC Hikari's unusual powers that they all survive. Unfortunately, her powers scatters all of them to different places; after some searching the characters are in three groups who search for each other while finding a way to defeat Massacre Pink and regain the paradise that seems utterly impossible from what they have witnessed.

Due to the nature of events, it is heavily encouraged that players new to the series play the previous games. This is important in order to get accustomed with such a large playable cast of fifteen Blood Maidens including Alice - girls with phenomenal powers able to take down enemies known as Marchens. However, if, for whatever reason, Mary Skelter: Nightmares and Mary Skelter 2 are unavailable, Mary Skelter Finale handily has the backstory for both games divided up into scenes so not all the plot points have to be read if it's believed they will be played at some point. For returning players the ability to refresh details of the first two titles is also useful.
Having fifteen playable characters could be overwhelming, but through the nature of the story only a maximum of five can be played at once. Most of the Blood Maidens are recognisable from previous entries in the series but there are a couple of new ones who certainly change the team dynamics with intriguing backgrounds and odd skills. It is also interesting how the party gets split up. At first the player starts with just one Blood Maiden, who manages to meet other members of the Dawn as well as other Blood Maidens. This gradual introduction helps to make it less overwhelming for new players, and will make it an agonising wait for veterans to play with their favourite characters. Finding themselves back in a living jail is not the happy ever after anyone of the Dawn wanted. Being split up from their allies results in a range of emotions afflicting the groups that adds character growth. Slowly, each of the starting Blood Maidens find their friends and auxiliary members of the Dawn, and set up a base camp. The end goal is to reunite everyone and find a way to take down the devastatingly powerful Massacre Pink who wants to slaughter everyone in the Dawn except for Alice, who, for some unknown reason, is wanted alive. After set plot points it is possible to switch between the three groups at will, with a few story-driven sections that make it impossible to switch back to some groups until that particular plot point progresses.

Along with each Blood Maiden filled party, girls who resemble familiar fairy-tale characters like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Princess Kaguya, there is another person for each of the three groups who can subdue the Blood Maidens' corruption level before and during both massacre mode in battle where their attack powers increase and the dreaded blood skelter mode where they will attack friend or foe with no input from the player. Jack uses his Mary Gun, a weapon that uses his own blood to dampen the Blood Maidens' madness. As for the two other characters, their weapons for now are a mystery to avoid spoilers. One is a familiar character in the Dawn, the other is completely new and their identity is unknown for much of the game. Initially there is another way besides using the Mary Gun to heal the Blood Maidens' corruption but that method soon stops due to story progression.

Screenshot for Mary Skelter Finale on Nintendo Switch

The main gameplay style is the same as the previous titles. The current jail that the team is in gets explored in first person, with battles happening for the most part at random, with a few fights visible on the map at places when key plot points are reached. Fights are turn based, with the ability to attack with either a weapon or use a skill, defend, reduce corruption and invoke what is usually a healing status through licking another blood maiden which can be viewed innocently or otherwise. Item use is saved for the sixth team member who can help heal corruption, and use healing or attack items to help the girls, although certain jobs when used by the blood maidens can allow for items being used by them in battle. They are seen on screen using 2D images on their turn, with transformation scenes when they enter massacre and blood skelter mode. The enemies are in 3D and are unfortunately one of the down sides of the game, as they seem out of focus. The previous games' enemies were also a bit blurry which may be a part of the series image, but given how clear and crisp the party's still 2D images are in battle it feels strange for enemies to be dissimilar.
Graphic issues in battles aside, the fights are as interesting as ever. Both weapons, armour and accessories can be changed at almost any time outside battle and be upgraded back at base camp, which can also be warped at any time, although it will then mean retracing steps through the current jail's levels. Short cuts are available in the jail once a level has been successfully completed which makes it advantageous to return to camp to stock up on supplies at the camp's shop. There is the same creepy travelling merchant who appears at random in the jail to all three groups, plus an additional feature that makes it possible to grow weapons, armour and accessories in a jail. There are limits to how much can be grown at one time, and if special growing areas are used then the chances of powerful items being harvested occurs. Using blood in the area during growth can potentially enhance the items' stats, too. This feature is probably more necessary on game difficulty levels above easy, which for the most part did fine by using weapons received as items or buying them from the merchant who has a greater role to play in Mary Skelter Finale's plot.

Screenshot for Mary Skelter Finale on Nintendo Switch

There are multiple jails in the game, each with a unique visual theme and separate battle music themes. Nightmares still exist in the jails, boss creatures who will chase the party until they hopefully get out of its range. In modes other than easy the mini map will disappear when being chased by a Nightmare which will add to the heightened drama. For the most part while obviously a threat to the groups' safety and also a mystery plot point, the Nightmares visually did not look too scary. Mary Skelter Finale is a horror game, and often it was the general enemies who looked disgusting rather than the Nightmares. The Nightmares disappear once the core of the jail is eradicated, and with there being multiple groups in the same jail there are multiple cores, too.

Using the three different groups in the same jail is a vital part of the game mechanics. No single group can traverse through a level in the jail without help from the other groups. For example, Jack's group may reach a locked gate that can only be unlocked by another group pulling a lever in their part of the jail. This type of puzzle requires logic solving skills that not everyone necessarily has, and can lengthen play time significantly, with nearly ninety hours taken to complete the entire game for this review. Some of the puzzle switches are timed, others change an area's pathways enabling access to previously unavailable places that have a key item needed for story progression. Understanding the game mechanics becomes easier the more the game is played, but almost all players can expect to be baffled by at least one of the puzzles.

Screenshot for Mary Skelter Finale on Nintendo Switch

A large part of enjoyment from Mary Skelter Finale comes from the characters themselves. Returning players will gain deeper insight into their favourite Blood Maidens personality from the absurdly tough situations they find themselves in. The whole concept of being separated from their friends for most of the game means all the girls feel lonely and miss each other at some point in the game. Almost all of them experience extreme emotion in the story scenes which is hard to watch but it leads to greater character development. Some of the Blood Maidens have to appear strong because the others in the group are less experienced or younger, but in private they share their fears with the sixth member of the group. The fatal nature of the world above the surface means that even the NPCs' emotions are explored more fully, which helps bond the groups together and forges new friendships. Having new people join the groups, some being Blood Maidens, adds mystery for those who already know the majority of playable and non-playable characters from the previous games. The newbies have distinct personalities that causes annoyance and frustration for the separate groups, but also makes the playable groups stronger. Flaring tempers lead to insightful narrative scenes. Some of the story exposition can seem unnecessary, but for the most part it adds depth to an already intriguing plot.

Screenshot for Mary Skelter Finale on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Engaging characters and dramatic plot twists teamed with a stellar soundtrack make Mary Skelter Finale one of the best dungeon crawling RPGs on Nintendo Switch. Replayability will happen if the true ending is not reached as all will want the beloved characters to get their final happy ending, and also for the pure joy of being with such a unique lovable cast. Issues such as enemy visuals in battle and at times frustratingly difficult puzzles do not detract much from the overall enjoyment of the final title in the Mary Skelter trilogy whose traumatic start and heart-warming conclusion leaves a memorable imprint on gamers' hearts.

Developer

Compile Heart

Publisher

Reef Entertainment

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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