Mary Skelter Finale wraps up a trilogy of Compile Heart games that originally started on the PlayStation Vita. This one’s available for the PlayStation 4, but if you prefer a handheld experience then there’s a Switch version as well.
In terms of understanding the game universe and lore, it probably helps to have played the previous games. But while Mary Skelter Nightmares was originally launched on the Vita, it also came bundled as a port with Mary Skelter 2, so if you don’t have a Vita your options aren’t as limited as you’d think. Finale picks up after the events of the previous games and focuses on Jack and Blood Maidens as they finally get to the surface, only to find out it’s not the paradise they had hoped for – thrusting them into new and horrific scenarios.
Story progression in Mary Skelter Finale goes hand in hand with frequent switches between different protagonists, who are in various locations and will sometimes cross paths. With a very large roster of characters to follow and keep track of, this works quite well from a narrative perspective, giving individual characters in groups enough time in the spotlight to make their personalities come across.
You’ll spend the bulk of your time in Mary Skelter Finale dungeon crawling and battling though, and as with the first two games the dungeons are all well-designed, with a solid mix of exploration, combat and puzzles that keeps it from feeling like a grind. Special character abilities play into this as well, with different characters offering unique solutions to problems because of the skills that only they possess – although they start feeling less unique after you’ve used them a dozen or so times. You’ll also find that you can find objects (like keys) and leave them for other protagonists to find, which creates a nice sense of a joint goal despite all these characters being in different places.
Having smaller groups to take care of at any given time also makes it more manageable to decide how to customize individual characters – not having to split everything with a huge group makes it easier to experiment without getting overwhelmed. This also translated to fun battles and a more targeted approach to side objectives, as you always have a sense of what you can do with the rewards.
There’s a good amount interpersonal development to explore as well, as characters form bonds of friendship or even love over the course of the adventure. This is on top of the regular character development that occurs throughout the narrative and in special events, which are always clearly marked and thus easy to spot. They help make the characters and story feel extra memorable, especially if you’ve been with the series since the beginning. The soundtrack just reinforces all this as well, with unique themes and melodies for each of the parties you follow.
A game like Mary Skelter Finale is hard to recommend to those who never played the original games, but if you did then this is a worthy third act you won’t want to miss out on. And if you never did, then what are you waiting for?