Some first impressions from Mary Skelter 2’s PC port

A few years after its western Switch release, Compile Heart’s dungeon-crawling RPG Mary Skelter 2 has made its way to PC. Having personally enjoyed both the original Mary Skelter: Nightmares and the 20 or so hours I played of Mary Skelter 2 on the Switch, I was looking forward to giving the games a play again on a new platform.

After trying the port out and going through the initial few dungeons, I’m left with a few key thoughts regarding some nitpicks I have with this version — including one aspect that you’ve likely already heard of.

Story overview

Mary Skelter 2 story

Mary Skelter 2 takes place in the Jail, a living prison where humans are tortured endlessly by Marchens, twisted creatures that take on many different forms. A group known as Dawn is trying to defy the Jail and escape, aided by Blood Maidens — humans with the power to fight the Marchen.

Things seem to be looking up for Dawn as they rescue a new Blood Maiden, though multiple events nearly cause the group to be wiped out overnight. This is where the real story begins, as a new group is formed to try and continue the seemingly impossible journey to escape the Jail.

While I’ll go more into my thoughts on the story during my full review, Mary Skelter 2 (as with the first game) is generally one of Compile Heart’s stronger efforts. It’s not exactly free of some the developer’s usual tropes and rushed writing, but the world is far more engaging compared to what I initially expected when trying out the series.

You get enough time with each character via side events at your base, with full Japanese voice acting throughout. Unfortunately, the Mary Skelter games have never received full English dubs — what’s there barely even covers a fraction of the main story — though it’s still solid when you do get to hear it.

A bare-bones port that (mostly) gets the job done

Mary Skelter 2 PC settings

Now, the port itself is a mixed bag, though still better than certain Japanese console-to-PC ports I can think of — not a high bar to clear, I know. All of the options from the console versions are retained, including text speed and effect toggles. The PC release adds in some new settings for resolution and controls, though the latter is rather sparse — you only get a choice of resolution and display modes. Resolutions above 1080p are supported, though the game was never really made with that in mind; more on that later.

On the control side, Mary Skelter 2 actually has decent mouse and keyboard support. While that sounds like an obvious inclusion, many Japanese ports don’t even allow you to use the mouse in menus. It’s possible to set multiple keybinds for each action too, which is a welcome bonus.

Of course, you can just use a controller (I’m using a DualSense for this playthrough), though it comes with an annoying caveat. Every time you load the game, you have to manually re-enable your controller as the main input device. And, while the mouse can still be used with the controller, all keyboard input is disabled. Nothing too major overall, just irritating considering that the game is designed around controllers in the first place.

Visually, there’s one thing that can be hard to ignore — the character portraits. For whatever reason, the portraits used in battles and cutscenes seem to be at a low resolution. While this is mostly likely in line with the Switch and potentially PS4 versions, it would have been nicer to have an option for high-res character portraits. They already looked a little fuzzy on the Switch’s screen, and it’s even more noticeable on a larger screen.

Performance is also not the best, though I expected this coming from the Switch version and other Compile Heart titles. Mary Skelter 2 often chugged during dungeon exploration, even when not much was happening. For those with lower end PCs and laptops, you’ll likely see similar performance. On a notebook using a Ryzen 5 4500U CPU, the game often struggled to keep a steady 60fps at 720p.

Again, this level of performance is similar to the Switch release, and more powerful hardware will have zero issues running Mary Skelter 2. It’s just a shame to see the game running like this, considering how simplistic the visuals are overall. This is a game carried by its overall aesthetic rather than technical prowess and polygon count, so it does at least hold up OK even with its lacklustre performance.

Removed content

Mary Skelter 2 Purge Corruption
Screenshot from the Switch version of Mary Skelter 2

And now we get to the issue you’ve probably already heard about if you’ve followed the PC release of Mary Skelter 2. As with the patched PS4 version, the game on PC has had a small amount of content removed. More specifically, the Purge Corruption mini-game is no longer available. You still get the effects of choosing the Purge Corruption option at the base, though it skips the actual mini-game.

For context, the Purge Corruption mini-game involved rubbing blood off the main heroines, which also wore away at some of their clothing. Considering that a decent number of the characters involved are somewhat young-looking, it’s not hard to see why this may have caused issues when bringing the game to Steam, particularly as visual novel developers in particular have previously had trouble with even non-sexual content involving younger-looking characters.

It’s hard to say whether this change was completely necessary, due to how inconsistent Valve is when banning games with ecchi content on Steam. Maybe Mary Skelter 2 would have made it onto the store just fine uncut, though it likely would have never made it if that version was blocked, since Valve often doesn’t allow resubmissions in these cases. Maybe an uncensored version could have been released on GOG — it did allow the first Evenicle title onto the store last year, but then that’s also on Steam — but it’s likely not financially viable to release two different ports of the same niche game.

If you’ve not played Mary Skelter 2 or its predecessor, this is still a solid way to experience both titles (a remastered version of the first game is included for free). It has next to no graphics options, but solid support for both keyboard/mouse and controllers, and the actual dungeon crawling gameplay is enjoyable. But if you want 100% of the game to be available on PC, then you’re out of luck.

Thankfully, Mary Skelter 2 is still available unchanged on Switch, and is often quite cheap during sales — so consider grabbing that version instead if you object to the changes made for the PC port.

Mary Skelter 2 launches today on Steam and GOG. Thanks to Ghostlight for the review code.

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Isaac Todd
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