By Steve Baltimore / October 12th, 2021
|Title||Mary Skelter Finale|
|Developer||Idea Factory, Compile Heart|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||September 30th, 2021|
|Platform||Switch, PlayStation 4|
The Mary Skelter series are some of the most interesting dungeon crawlers you will find. Their rich story and characters, along with some very unique blood mechanics, make them stand out in the crowd. I was very excited to finally get my hands on the last entry in the series, Mary Skelter Finale. I wasn’t sure how this would all end, but I knew I was in for one wild ride when I fired it up. Let’s see how well everything turned out.
The story begins as Jack and his friends have finally escaped the underground jail and made their way to the surface. They expect to find freedom there, but what they find is something just as hellish as before: the sky is red and a group of girls is slaughtering everyone in sight. These four girls identify themselves as Massacre Pink. Three of the girls are enjoying the murder and chaos they are causing, but one of them is very different from the rest. Her name is Pyre, and she doesn’t get the joy out of killing that her sisters do. Massacre Pink soon begins to attack Jack and his friends. Some of them are injured, Clara getting the worst of it, but the group is saved when Hikari uses her powers and teleports them away. The problem is they ended up in different towers on the surface. After being split into three different groups, some events unfold that allow each group to have a member with Mary Gun. The Blood Maiden must work in their groups to gain access to the devouring tower in the sky and unravel the mysteries of the world above.
First off I want to commend the development team for putting all of the previous games’ cut scenes, game CGs and even the short novels on the cart. This gives new players a chance to catch up on the story without having to hunt down other media. As for the finale, I was very satisfied with the conclusion as I watched the credits roll. All of the characters shined throughout this new adventure and the ending gave a great amount of closure, since Idea Factory International threw in the Locked Up in Love – True End DLC that basically gives you an ending with the Blood Maiden of your choice, excluding only a few for story reasons. They also threw in the free DLC Locked Up In Love – Blood High that gives you a glimpse of what a high school would be like with this wild crew.
Mary Skelter Finale looks pretty good on the Switch graphically. The dungeons are as crazy as ever with a wide variety of environments. These range from a dungeon that looks like Scrooge McDuck’s money bin, to one that looks like an amusement park from your worst nightmares. The only issue here is one of the dungeons, The Salvation Tower, is very white. I mean floors and ceiling both are super white to the point it makes your eyes hurt. This issue is worse on the Switch version for some reason, as some of the backgrounds seem to have a lighter coloring to them in general. The development team should work on a patch to tone the white down in the Switch version to the PlayStation 4 version at the very least. The models are nicely detailed, and of course no Mary Skelter game is complete without some over-the-top Nightmares that stalk you in the dungeon. These are as creepy as ever, and the one with needles I could’ve really done without seeing ever!
At first I wasn’t too keen on some of the music tracks found in the game, but I think after my 95 hours of playtime most of them grew on me. Some of these tracks use strings in a jarring way, but honestly they certainly fit the theme of the game. The battle themes are the real standouts here. Each one will get you pumped for combat as you hum along while destroying your foes. The game has full Japanese audio, and if you look at the voice cast you will certainly recognize some of these names from some of your other favorite anime and games. There is also an English dub if you prefer to go that route, and honestly I thought the English actors were pretty good here.
At first glance folks may think Mary Skelter Finale is just another first person dungeon crawler, but looks here can be very deceiving. While it does follow the standard formula of a lot of those titles, with switches to throw, keys to find and more, it does a lot to keep things fresh. The first huge change is now you’re in control of three unique parties. Each of these will start on a different part of the dungeon floor and you can switch back and forth between each one anytime you wish. The three groups will have to help each other out in a couple of ways as you search for the three cores in each tower in order to defeat the Nightmare lurking within. The first is that you will find boxes on some floors called a Dustbox. These boxes will allow you to pass items to other parties, and you will need to do this often for things like keys to open doors and such. The second is that most of the time, all the switches to open doors in an area the party is in aren’t accessible to them, so the other parties will run across switches that open doors in those areas. The game will have a picture of the party leader when you fling open a door in their area so you know who can move forward.
Just like the previous titles, you will have to use all of the Blood Maiden’s Blood Abilities to traverse the dungeon as well. These include things such as using a skill to move boxes around, putting out candles, filling in holes and much more. Sometimes what skills you need to use are pretty straightforward, but there are times when I had to stop and think for a few minutes before the answer came to me. I won’t say that all of the traps and obstacles were fun to deal with, but in the end I felt very accomplished having completed all of them.
The combat here hasn’t changed much from previous entries. It’s still a turn based affair where the party leader will have to manage the corruption of each Blood Maiden as you spray gallons of your foes’ blood. Each girl has six blood spatter spots beside their picture at the bottom of the screen. These will fill up as blood is splattered in battle. If these fill up a lighter color of red, there is a good chance they will go into Massacre Mode, giving them a big buff and access to some powerful skills. However, if these blood spatter spots fill in with a dark red or black color, you will need to purify them as soon as possible. If left unattended they will go into Blood Skelter rage. When this happens, they get a huge stat boost and will attack automatically, but they may decide to wipe out the party instead of the enemies. If the leader’s turn isn’t coming around fast enough you can always have the girls Lick the blood off each other. This will reduce the spatter count back to zero, and give you some nice perks as well. Combining this with all the different job and weapon options gives Mary Skelter Finale a ton of strategy and depth when it comes to combat. I found it a ton of fun to experiment with each character to see which combination would make them the most bad ass in combat.
There are many other systems found in the game as well. These include blood farming, weapon upgrades, giving each of the Maidens gifts to raise their affections and more. I feel like if I spent time going into each one in-depth this would turn into more of a FAQ than a review, so let’s just say while all this sounds complicated it’s really not as bad as it seems. If you pay attention to what you’re doing and consult the in-game help, most obstacles here shouldn’t give you too much trouble.
Even though this took a lot longer than I expected, I really had a great time with Mary Skelter Finale. This is everything I could’ve asked for in a story conclusion, with a great ending and tons of extra content. The dungeon crawling is a ton of fun, even if the maps are huge and puzzle-filled at times, and the combat has enough depth to keep you coming back for hours on end. If you’re a fan of the series, at $49.99 the asking price is a no brainer. You will love this. In fact, fans of the franchise that haven’t snagged up one of Idea Factory International’s fantastic Limited Editions, should highly consider it. At roughly $105 it isn’t cheap, but it is packed with goodies like a hardback novel set, soundtrack for the entire franchise, a poster and more. If you have never played Mary Skelter and want to see what it’s all about, this entry includes all of the story bits from the previous games, so there is no reason you couldn’t jump in right here and have a great time as well.
Game was provided by the publisher.
Compile HeartDungeon CrawlerIdea FactoryMary SkelterMary Skelter FinaleReviews