Originally released for the PlayStation Vita in 2014, Mary Skelter Nightmares received moderate critical reception from both critics and gamers. It was developed by long time JRPG makers Compile Heart, who also made the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise and Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God. Like many games of its genre, the dungeon crawler RPG has now received a high definition PC release via Steam.
After spending several years inside a high security prison known as The Jail, Jack and Alice, two of the inmates are freed from their cells by a fellow prisoner named Red Riding Hood. Working together with their new ally, they discover Alice is a Blood Maiden, a supernatural being who gains power from the enemies they defeat. As well as trying to escape from the 666-floor complex, Alice and Red Riding Hood, also a Blood Maiden, must team up with several others of their kind to defeat the Marchens, the monsters that act as The Jail’s wardens. Unlike many JRPG dungeon crawlers, there is a level of seriousness that works in the game’s favour. This helps to further empathise the dangers presented by The Jail, and the enemies that need to be defeated.
Mary Skelter Nightmares is a first-person dungeon crawling RPG, in a similar vein to Strangers of Sword City and Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy. Throughout the journey to escape The Jail, Jack and the other Blood Maidens will travel through various dungeon areas which are gothic styled interpretations of fairy tales and classic literature. The City Streets area has aesthetics and enemies which resemble Alice in Wonderland, whereas the Graveyard is like a Halloween version of Snow White. Each area has a unique feel, giving off a genuinely macabre vibe that is generally unseen in the JRPG medium. The enemies that you encounter are also themed around the stories, so you will be fighting twisted versions of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit on your road to obtaining freedom.