Sunday, 15 June 2014

Review - Mind Zero (PS VITA)

The Vita has recently been given another RPG with similar styling to Persona. The real question is, how closely does it follow that formula and more importantly is it any good?

Developed by Acquire and localized by Aksys Games in the North American and European regions, Mind Zero is another dungeon crawler available on the Vita. Mind Zero gives the players control of a group of characters that are called MIND users. Each of the characters MIND also gives a visual representation of each characters inner thoughts and personality. The MIND users use their MINDs to battle with other wild MIND's. Wild MINDs dwell in a place called the "Spiritual World" that exists in parallel with the real world.

Mind Zero takes place in real regions in Japan such as, the Amamiya, Akihibra, Nippori and Yokohama, all which are in the Saitama prefecture which is pretty cool. Which is a cool idea but the novelty wears off as there is no in game exploration but the player is given a menu based map to navigate through to travel to different locations. I felt this took away from the game as exploring the areas in more detail would of been a great addition

Mind Zero uses a turn based battle system with a few tweaks to keep it separate from the norm. Each characters MINDs uses different abilities and can have different effects on the direction of a fight. MIND's are summoned by a tap of a button and do not take up a turn. MIND's and each character are their own entity, which means you have two health bars. One health bar is for your character and the other bar is for your MIND. When your MIND is summoned, any action you choose is performed by your MIND.

There is also a burst mode that can be toggled on if the players MIND has enough health. After attacking with burst mode, you are given another turn but each attack or skill use costs a good chunk of MIND health points. If your MIND runs out hp, the character will go into a state call MIND break, which makes your character unusable for a variable amount of time, this could cause any of the players battles to go bad, especially during a boss fight. So remember to always keep an eye on that health bar, As your character levels up, you can choose skills that a characters MIND will be able to learn.

Each skill can be obtained at the end of any battle. Skills have an elemental affinity such as, Water and Fire, so appoint skills appropriate according to each MIND's elemental strengths. Skills also have a level requirement, so for example if a strike skill is level 7 your MIND must also be at least level 7 to able to use that certain skill. This prevents the player of abusing high level skills to easily level up lower leveled party members.

Now down to the meat and bones of Mind Zero, the dungeons!. As there is little in the way of World Map exploration or hub worlds you'll want to spend the most of your time exploring the various dungeons in Mind Zero. This unfortunately this is one of the major failing with Mind Zero as the dungeon crawling feels stagnant & uninspired. Bland & samey environments and clunky movements making what should be the catch of the game unfortunately it's biggest failing.

Not saying that it's a complete mess, if you really put your head into it you can find some enjoyment with the dungeons. When you have the competition as you do with the Vita especially following the release of Demon Gaze, you need a hook to keep you interested. It's a shame as underneath it is a whole bunch of potential, it's just unrealized and holds the game back alot.

Onto the narrative of Mind Zero, Persona/JoJo style story included!, once again it's a whole bunch of untapped potential. I can't lie it does reek of Persona in terms of base story, High school kids with new powers defending an unaware world from an alternative world enemy. The part about an alternative version of our world intersecting was a nice plot device as was the doppelganger, it just all falls flat due to bad writing.

Despite having all the elements for a gripping story everything is written and performed in the least interesting way, stagnant cut scene character art and cliche riddled script causes you to either skip or turn off during the long winded narrative sections. It may be the first attempt by this team but unfortunately it's unforgivable when you are creative a narrative driven Dungeon Crawler.

Overall Mind Zero is a case of brilliant idea yet poor execution, the story takes far too long to get interesting and has such an unsatisfying end which relies too much on the hope of a follow up coming along. A dull and lifeless cast performing an uninspired adventure causes tedium to set in far too early, especially as dungeon crawling is so unsatisfying as are the side quests. Not the best start but there is enough base work there for a truly stellar follow up should they want give Mind Zero it's own mark rather than relying on the base that Persona has set up

Who Should Buy This?

  • Vita fans starved for RPGs 
  • If you fancy something along the lines of Persona 
  • If you don't mind an absence of presentation 

Who Should Avoid This? 

  • Wanting a deep narrative
  • If you are after the shine of Persona 4 Golden
  • Haters of First Person RPGs 


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