Mind Zero is an action-packed dungeon-crawler RPG. Play as Kei, a high school student whose life turns upside down when he forms a contract with a “MIND,” a weapon/being with deadly powers. With the government and other forces trailing him and his friends, Kei will need to discover the secret behind “MIND.” Will these newfound powers help him or ultimately be his doom?
I think this has been one of the more contentious games I’ve seen come on steam, and not for it’s content (per say). The forums and reviews are full of complaints about this being a Persona rip-off and about it being a shitty PC port. So before I get into the good stuff I wanted to address those complaints, from how I see it.
It’s a Persona Clone!
And? Games are almost always a clone of something that’s gone before it. The question shouldn’t be if a game is a clone of another, but rather does the game stand up on it’s own. Is it fun to play in it’s own right. The best example of this is Terarria, a clone of Minecraft but it stands on it’s own just fine.
Mind Zero is a first person dungeon crawler, where as all of the Persona games have been third person free roam dungeon crawlers. This is a big difference, the mobs in Persona would move around and if they saw you, would chase and attack you. In Mind Zero they stay put and you don’t encounter them until you step on them.
To be honest I’d say this game has more in line with games like Demon Gaze than Persona, though that’s not to say that the game doesn’t take cues from the Persona franchise, because it does. But taking cues is not a clone.
It’s a bad PC Port.
It’s certainly not a great port. It has it’s issues, but almost all of them can be fixed with a pinch of patience and less raging on forums. The two biggest issues that seem to be causing people to flip out is the ‘lack’ of fullscreen mode and lack of controller support.
Fullscreen mode is there, you just need to select it in the options, let it auto save and close the game. When you launch it next it’s in fullscreen mode, problem solved! Done this on all 3 of my test machines and it’s worked on all 3.
Controller support works perfectly fine, if you have a 360 or 360 compliant pad. I’ve tried both my own wired 360 pad and a Logitech 360 compliant pad and both worked. To a degree, I’ll go more into the issues I did experience later on. If you’re using a PS4 or some other pad, then they won’t work, which is true with a lot of games. You can get round this using various 3rd party apps, like you would normally. It is worth noting that Xbox One pads do not work out the box, I’m guessing due to the changes in the coding. However with some tinkering they can be made to work, it all depends on if you’re willing (or able) to put the work into it. Though I personally felt it was easier to just use the 360 pad.
Lets move onto what I’ve seen in the PC build. Carrying on from the above I did experience some issues with the 360 pad seeming to not be recognised if you didn’t use it for to long. So if like me you play using ‘auto forward’ button presses wouldn’t be picked up after a time. After pressing the space bar however things worked again, till it happened again a little while later. That is a problem that needs to be resolved, it was something we could replicate on all 3 test machines.
The game is also low resolution, which part of me expected since it’s from the Vita (960×544). During the visual novel side of things it’s not really noticeable on out 1920×1080 screens. However when you go into battle it becomes very noticeable as the screen is dominated by the UI, as you can see in the screenshots. While this was expected to a degree, it’s a shame that they didn’t do some work on the game to increase the resolution. It especially becomes noticeable when you get a save prompt, since the text is all blurry and fuzzy due to the low resolution.
Keyboard controls are there, and work, but they’re initially clunky and haphazard so you’ll need to spend some time rebinding things to suit your needs. The key point here though is that you can rebind everything.
For me, the biggest and most glaring problem the game has is that it’s missing a ‘quit’ option. This was clearly nothing more than a direct port, with no real work done on the PC side of things beyond some of the basics (cause I consider ‘quit’ to BE a basic!). The only way to exit the game is to save and then ALT+F4, which can (and has happened once to me) corrupt your save file. So always make sure you have a separate back up!
So lets move on and talk graphics. The game is you a-typical Visual Novel/J-RPG hybrid, as such you get some really nice looking art during the visual novel side of things. Naturally since it’s a J-RPG as well, it’s choked full of fan service, with busty women falling out of their bra’s…almost, cause it’s teen rated after all, can’t go to far 😀
The dungeons are rather lack lustre, with nothing really special to talk about, or even look at. Once a fight starts it moves into 3D mode, and it’s not that good sadly. The character models are half chibi’s, and initially I didn’t think they were to bad. Sadly the monsters are pretty grim, with a bare amount of effort put into them, which was a disappointment.
Combat is turn based, you decide what all your party is going to do, and then it plays out. After you’re given rewards and bonuses depending on how well you did. Skill cards, are well, skills, you equip them to get special abilities. As you progress you can upgrade them to have better effect. As you progress it becomes more apparent you need to be more strategic in your builds, putting thought into which skills you buff, and who equips what. It’s not just a matter of kicking ass and getting out alive, you want to be doing it in style and quickly so as to get bonuses.
Sadly, the story isn’t the games strong point, the combat is. The story is weak and very little is revealed. What’s worse is that the game ends in a cliff-hanger ending leaving you wondering what is really going on. Cleary they were setting this up to be a new franchise, but the sequel has thus far, not arrived.
So while I liked the characters, I found the lack of resolution to be a bit of a pain. This was especially true with Leo, who has a limited life span as he picked the wrong weapon and it’s now slowly killing him (supposedly). However we never really get progression on this, and after a while I’d completely forgotten about it. This tied with some rather run of the mill plot twists, that you see coming a mile away, led to a rather bland and disappointing story.
However, despite all of that I do like the combat, and once I got used to the mechanics, and progressed far enough, it became very satisfying. I really got into planning my character builds, trying to figure out what was thefts way to go with my skills for the mobs I was going to encounter in the dungeons. Sure there are loads of walkthroughs and guides that will tell you all this now, but nothing beats the satisfying feeling of succeeding on your own!
So in the end it comes down to if you can get past the weak story and just enjoy the game for what it is, a fun dungeon crawler. If you go into this expecting more than that then I think you’ll be disappointed. However for the price of the game £15, it’s not that bad.