(Review contributed by Misya Danielle)
Mind Zero is an immersive and thought provoking dungeon crawler JRPG with many similarities to other popular series such as Persona. Mind Zero was originally a PlayStation Vita exclusive published in Japan on August 2013 and later to North America on May 2014. The game is now set for release to Steam in early March 2016 and will include many unlockable Steam achievements. Mind Zero featuresa mix of unique game mechanics with a dark plot and intriguing characters which make the game worthy of its PC release. While similar to other series such as Persona and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures, it features many of its own unique game mechanics that make it stand out from the rest.
Mind Zero’s story surrounds a series of mysterious murders and accidents involving people who have made contracts with demonic weapons known as MINDs. Soon the protagonist Kei and his friends become caught up in the chaos after Kei is forced to form a contract with a MIND. While attempting to save a small child Kei runs into trouble with someone affected by their MIND and he soon finds himself in another world. Upon arriving in the other world he is greeted by a strange woman who tells him that the only way to return to his world is by selecting his own MIND. He is also told that only one of the weapons is the correct one and if he chooses wrong the weapon could destroy him. Kei is taught how to use his MIND by a friend who had learned to use one only days earlier. Another of Kei’s friends is forced to make a contract with one but chooses incorrectly and the weapon devours his arm turning it into part of the weapon. The three of them have many questions about their weapons and the recent murders surrounding other users. As they search for answers they continue to run into more trouble and soon become further immersed in the dark events surrounding the MINDs. As you continue through the game you will learn how each MIND relates to their user and why they are suddenly able to make it into Kei’s world.
Mind Zero features many very complicated game mechanics which make using a keyboard a difficult task. With the many buttons and button combinations required to play the game it is simplest to just use an Xbox 360 controller with Steam version of the game rather than go through the difficulty of changing the keys. The map that allows you to travel from one place to another is more complicated than the map systems of most games and can be complicated to use with a keyboard as with most of the game mechanics. The complex systems make the game fun and challenging once you get the hang of it. The most vital benefit of the Steam version is the games occasional auto save. Auto save can be very useful and ensures you don’t have to go back over parts of the game leading to important events where the auto save executes. The auto save does not execute often so still be sure to save before exiting the game if you don’t want to redo even a little of the game. There are many other great features of the overall gameplay mechanics that are best left to discover as you play through the game.
The battle system itself is particularly complicated at first especially if you are still learning the buttons for the game. While the game has the typical turn based battle system it still takes a lot of learning to figure out certain aspects. The most important thing to learn early in the game is how to summon and utilize the power of the protagonist’s MIND in battle. In order to summon your MIND the character must have enough MP. The MIND feeds on the character’s MP as long as you have it summoned. If a character’s MP reaches zero for reasons other than having their MIND summoned it will result in a “MIND break. Mind break causes the character to become unable to take actions and lasts until a percentage of their MP recovers in three turns. Charging allows your character to recover more of their MP and helps prevent MIND break. Aside from Using a MIND in battle you can use the most basic commands such as attack, escape, and item. The battle system in Mind Zero works better than the battle systems of most other PSVita to Steam ports.
The animation in Mind Zero is smooth throughout the entire game and does not falter during battle. The animation also works well with the graphics and does not create any issues such as a disconnect between characters and backgrounds. The graphics in the game reflect the dark themes of the game very well and have a similar look to the graphics from the Persona series. The character art in Mind Zero isn’t exactly bright and cheerful but it is colorful and eye catching in its own way. The background art is very dull through much of the game but doesn’t negatively affect the quality of the game. The art and animation are the games strongest points and add significantly to the quality of the game.
Mind Zero is a unique and interesting dungeon crawler regardless of its similarities to other games. The Steam version’s only weak point is the complications that could come with using a keyboard rather than a controller with the game. It is the most enjoyable if it is thought of more for its unique qualities rather than its strong similarities to other games. Mind Zero could be a great game for fans of the Persona series that are looking for a game that is unique with a little similarity. This game is perfect for JRPG fans that are searching for a quality game that has very few gameplay issues. Mind Zero is without a doubt one of the most solid out of all JRPGs to be ported to Steam.
Pros: Polished Animation, Smooth Gameplay, Interesting Plot
Cons: Complicated Controls, Limited Characters
SCORE – 90%
This review is based on a digital copy of Mind Zero on Steam provided by Aksys Games.