As a long-time fan of grid-based dungeon crawlers, I've thoroughly enjoyed Mary Skelter but the curtains are finally closing with Finale.
If you loved the previous Mary Skelter games as much as I did then let me just say; don't bother reading this review or any others for that matter. Just get Mary Skelter Finale because it ties things up beautifully while offering familiar gameplay as well as an enormous cast of characters. Still here? Well, I guess I'll get to it, then. Mary Skelter Finale begins in an intriguing way as Jack and the Blood Maidens are scattered across the land which actually ties into the gameplay because instead of controlling a single party, you can swap between 6. At the start, there are 3 dungeons with a pair of parties exploring each and this is where the cleverest part of the gameplay comes in as you must work together with the other party in the dungeon to unlock doors so each party can gradually inch their way forward.
Once you're done with this part which takes an impressively long time, Mary Skelter Finale opens up in a lot of ways. In fact, it does so in so many ways that I'm still not sure I've utilized every single game system. Speaking of which, there are series staples such as nightmares that chase you around and character-specific dungeon abilities such as magnets to draw objects closer, clippers to cut chain-link fences, and water to put out fires. Combat is also familiar with a guardian able to assist a handful of Blood Maidens who have unique skills and may sometimes enter more powerful states. These fighting styles, skills, and dungeon abilities make each character stand out even more.
Anyway, back to when you complete the first chapter. At that point, you'll access a fully-featured hub area where you can shop, switch jobs, appraise items, expand skill slots, enhance characters with blood packs, complete side-quests known as commissions, plant and harvest blood flowers, upgrade weapons, manage your storage, browse a library full of information, and gift surprises and furniture to the Blood Maidens for bonus items as well as increased affection levels. Keep in mind; all of this is in addition to the basic party management where you swap equipment and create and assign skills. Considering you'll have access to 3 parties of 5 characters, all of this adds up to a lot of management which makes traversing the difficult dungeons and beating the tricky bosses ahead a rewarding treat.
As if all of that isn't enough, there's a great deal of extra content as well. If you'd like to be reminded of the 2 previous games then you can choose "Before Story" from the main menu where you can watch every dialogue scene from the first 2 titles as well as browse galleries full of cutscenes, images, and character art and you can even listen to their soundtracks, too. Oh, and you can experience a fun visual novel called Mary Skelter Locked up in Love which has different stories based on which Blood Maiden you choose. You can also read novels based on the first 2 games. Considering the cast is full of strong personalities and fantastic English voice acting, it's easy to get lost in all of these side-stories and bonus content. This is probably the most amount of extra stuff I've ever seen in a game.
Mary Skelter Finale is an absolute treat for any fan of the series or old-school first-person dungeon-crawler RPGs in general but it does have its downsides. The most notable of which is that the dungeon layouts can sometimes feel repetitive, especially considering when you're traversing a similar layout with multiple parties. The character-specific dungeon abilities help alleviate some tedium here but it can still be a bit laborious at times. Similarly, the fact that you're constantly swapping your party means that you level up a lot slower than if you were simply controlling 1 party so it sometimes feels like you're spinning your wheels while not making much progress.
If you enjoyed the previous entries then you'll absolutely love Mary Skelter Finale. It's so jam-packed with content, cleverly designed scenarios, and incredible characters that you'll find it hard to put down even after hours of bloody good dungeon crawling.
- + Super-rewarding old-school dungeon crawling with plenty of elaborate scenarios
- + Huge cast with great voice acting
- + Loads of extras and enjoyable stories
- - Dungeon layouts are sometimes repetitive
- - Juggling parties makes growth less satisfying