Just in time for Halloween, the journey through the "living jail" continues in the exciting sequel to Mary Skelter: Nightmares. In Mary Skelter 2 you continue the adventure through the horrifying and maddening living jail as while battling it out against ominous creatures known as marchens and escaping the clutches of the nightmares. Players can experience the horrors and suspense of the living jail in digital format from Nintendo Switch October 22, 2019. Physical copies will be available for preorder through Limited Run Games late November for Nintendo Switch. As an added bonus, a downloadable copy of Mary Skelter: Nightmares will be included free to anyone who purchases Mary Skelter 2. Buyers who have not played the original PlayStation Vita exclusive release of Mary Skelter: Nightmares will now have the opportunity to experience it alongside its sequel.
The living jail is no ordinary prison, it is a living organism full of disturbing sights and dangerous creatures known as nightmares. The world is also inhabited by the blood maidens, a cast of unique characters who come from fairy tales and folklore. Blood maidens assist Jack and Otsuu in battle and their abilities can be used to solve puzzles as you traverse the dungeons. You can customize the blood maidens by selecting their job class and expending points into skills, a blood maiden can even learn skills from another job class than their own. If at any point you want to change the skill set of a blood maiden, you can use the feature blood devotion to revert one of the maiden's levels back into CP. The blood devotion feature takes some of the pressure off of the customization process, such a feature should be a staple in any dungeon crawling RPG.
The greatest added feature in Mary Skelter 2 is Jack's new ability to turn into a powerful and relentless nightmare called Ripper Jack. After becoming severely injured Jack begins to transform into a nightmare but somehow some of his humanity remains, keeping him from turning into one of the dangerous and fiendish nightmares that roams the living jail. His new power can drastically turn the tide of battle but at a cost. When Jack turns into Ripper Jack he strikes at allies in the process of striking down foes, Also if he becomes Ripper Jack three times in a single battle it's game over. Another feature of the game is the use of blood crystals, they are like seeds and can be planted and harvested to create useful items. Making use of all of the game's features is you best chance at making through the game, Mary Skelter 2 is far more difficult than most other dungeon crawling RPGs.
In Mary Skelter 2 you journey through the living jail in a first person point of view and encounter enemies at random along the way, in this sense it follows the basic rules of the dungeon crawling genre. While it is similar in a lot of ways to most other dungeon crawlers, there are plenty of features that help the game stand out such as the previously mentioned use of Ripper Jack in battle and the convenient character building system. As you move through the floors of the living jail you must be cautious of traps, if that isn't exciting enough you must also escape from the terrifying nightmares that hunt you. You must run from the nightmares as quickly as possible once they appear and be careful how you spend your time. Every moment you waste in battle or in the menu brings the nightmare closer to you. If a nightmares catches you the only means of escape is to knock it out temporarily and resume running. The nightmares add a lot of heart pounding suspense, especially when you must watch out for traps and battle turn by turn against the marchens along the way.
As can be expected from any Idea Factory/Compile Heart title, the graphics are vibrant and full of their unique charm. The Living Jail maintains its horrific vibe in vibrant detail. Every grotesque scene breathes life into the disturbing prison world but it isn't all dark and scary, one thing we can count on Idea Factory and Compile Heart for is their colorful and beautifully designed characters. As can be expected Mary Skelter 2 features a vibrant and quirky cast of mostly female characters and they make full use of anime personality clichés as always, this is part of their unique charm. You can always tell an Idea Factory/Compile Heart game apart from any other.
Mary Skelter 2 packs a generous mix of dungeon crawling adventure, demented humor, and heart pounding suspense. If you are an Idea Factory/Compile Heart fan this game is a must have for your collection, it has everything that you can expect from one of their games and more. Unique features such as Ripper Jack, and blood crystal harvesting set the game apart from other popular dungeon crawlers such as Etrian Odyssey. If you are getting bored of all of the repetitive or overly easy dungeon crawling RPGs on the market definitely pick up Mary Skelter 2 and give the series a try.
PROS (+): Wide Cast of Characters, Heart Pounding Gameplay, Convenient Character Building System
CONS (-): May require some level grinding and a lot of patience
SCORE – 8.5/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Mary Skelter 2 on the Nintendo Switch provided by Idea Factory.