Another JRPG for the Vita.
Mind Zero on PlayStation Vita, developed by Acquire and ZeroDiv, is an interesting game which isn’t too dissimilar to the Persona franchise, in the sense of story layout and characters.
The story is set in a Japanese high school where a number of mysterious events have been occurring and the main story surrounds high school student Kei Takanashi, who gets immersed in a real and alternative reality after trying to stop a murder. Whisked away in the blink of an eye and hearing strange voices in his head, Kei finds himself inside a strange shop where he encounters a woman known as ‘The Undertaker’. She gives him the option to select a weapon from her store, but to choose wisely or he may die.
Apprehensively choosing a weapon, you enter an agreement of MIND. This is a contract, also know as Major Inner Node Displacement, where you’re placed in an alternative realm and battle it out against other MINDs.
Mind Zero is primarily a role-playing title with dungeon crawling elements. There’s a great deal of visual novel ingredients to advance you through the story. This aspect can be very lengthy at times, which means it does feel more like you’re reading a book, rather than playing and interacting in a game. You’ll encounter various characters, ongoing substorylines and explore the town and environment, with the opportunity to purchase weapons and advance to other towns.
Within the dungeons, you’ll be up against other MINDS which you’ll have to defeat, along with some quests to fulfill. Exploring the dungeons in first person view is quite enjoyable, and you’ll make your way through while battling, using skills and summoning your MIND.
Once you’re in battle, if your MIND points fall to zero, you are unable to summon your MIND, so you always have to be aware of that when encountering battles. MIND can take more damage and can therefore absorb incoming damage coming to you. Battles move forward as you select various commands such as; attack, charge, item, escape and burst. You can attack a single enemy if you select charge and you will take less damage, while it is in effect you can also restore some MP. You can activate burst by consuming TP, which are Technical Points. Technical points enable you to use skills on your burst, which will consume them. Once TP have been consumed, this enables you to take the first action that turn. If you are hit by an attack while your MIND is inactive, your life points will go down.
The combat elements are not exactly basic. Pressing the left PS Vita shoulder button when your MIND is inactive will summon your MIND and, while your MIND is active, you can use attack, skill and burst. Attack allows you to attack a single opponent with your MIND. Skills allow you to activate on the skill cards that have been assigned to whatever character you have chosen from beginning of the game. Some skills consume life points in addition to Technical Points, so you have to be conscious of your decisions. Burst will allow you to spend some Technical Points to enter the Burst Mode. While in Burst Mode, you can execute your actions more quickly by consuming additional Technical Points over what they would normally cost.
Your MIND can block attacks while active. Your MIND Points will be reduced when you’re hit. But also your MIND Points decrease as long is your MIND is active. Are you still with me?, because it’s quite a complex and confusing battle system at times. If you’re successful in battles, you’ll gain XP, money, items and an upper-hand in the next battle, if you’re lucky enough to survive. You can use or examine any items you’ve been carrying and you’ll have to engage in a number of requests along the main storyline.
My biggest gripe with Mind Zero is the fact that although the battle and combat components are good and solid, I found them very confusing at times. I was also very aware that MIND Zero plays out very similar to certain Persona games, which is something that will sway the potential market.
Fundamentally Mind Zero is a well thought out story and visually it is appealing to the eye, with sharp animations and interesting characters to engage with along the way. But the audience for Mind Zero is limited to those who are happy with the more visual novel style gameplay combined with slightly repetitive dungeon crawling antics. The series has potential, but it is early days yet.