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Mind Zero (Vita) artwork

Mind Zero (Vita) review

"Mind Zero almost manages to be a great game, but it's held back by its pesky flaws."

Throughout my life as a gamer, I've had all kinds of experiences. There have been games that wowed me, games that came close to greatness but fell short, and of course there were those that made me regret ever picking up a controller. For me, the least common ones were those that might best be described as “pretty okay.” Virtually everything about such titles is decent, perhaps even above average. The number of flaws is limited, too. Their biggest problem is that nothing about them really stands apart from others in their genre. Mind Zero is one such title.

Co-developed by Acquire (Way of the Samurai) and ZeroDiv (Class of Heroes), Mind Zero is a dungeon-crawler JRPG inspired by the Persona series. The main characters (all high schooler students) are “minders” that have a MIND demon companion with which they share a psychic link. They've been chosen by a woman who calls herself “The Undertaker” to defeat other MIND creatures that have somehow managed to infiltrate Japan and possess citizens, turning them into murderous psychopaths in the process.

The narrative isn't exactly groundbreaking here, but it's engaging enough to provide an excuse to keep pushing forward despite the heroes being JRPG stock characters (including the always-annoying apathetic protagonist that begrudgingly tags along). The aspect of the story I found the most interesting involves two homicide detectives who are investigating MIND related cases which they believe involve hallucinagenic drugs, as opposed to demons from another plane of existence. Their buddy-cop banter is amusing and it's nice to see the story from the perspective of people who have no clue what's really happening.

A major portion of Mind Zero resembles a visual novel. There are different events to select on the map, some that push the plot forward, and others that offer side stories where the characters just hang out together. I love it when games take the time for character development, but these subplots are mostly just for laughs and rarely provide anything more. With that said, they're a nice touch and provide a break from the lengthy dungeons that comprise most of the gameplay.

Early in the game you come across a gentleman that's investigating the “doorways” that keep appearing and connecting the “Inner Realm” (MIND world) from the “Outer Realm” (our world). His main purpose is to serve as a quest hub, providing “Requests” for the characters to accomplish. Some are optional, but many involve entering dungeons via the doorways to defeat demons and unravel the MIND mystery. This is both the best and worst part of the game. It's the best because you get to use Mind Zero's fantastic combat system, and it's the worst because the dungeons are very repetitive.

Battles involve using each of the hero's MIND demons to soak up damage and blast monsters with powerful abilities. Those demons can be summoned in and out of battle at will, and they learn spells by equipping battle cards that contain a variety of elemental based attacks, healing spells or buffs. As in most RPGs, the key strategy here is to attack enemy weaknesses, but the catch is that your MIND's skills aren't as effective against certain creatures, thus requiring you to call off your demon pal and ultimately leaving you susceptible to damage and potentially death. These are smooth fighting mechanics that really make the game enjoyable, but I found that the concept grew stale as I trudged my way through the blandly designed dungeons with their obscenely high encounter rates.

Mind Zero almost manages to be a great game, but it's held back by its pesky flaws. Exploring all the areas, and even backtracking, would've been a breeze but virtually every few steps result in another random encounter that might require a few minutes to beat, due to the tactics involved. Alternatively, you might suddenly run into a group of monsters that are a much higher level. The story is solid, the characters can be entertaining and the combat is cool, but the lack of creativity and the monotonous gameplay muck things up a bit too much for me to give the overall experience my full stamp of approval.


Tayo's avatar
Freelance review by Tayo Stalnaker (November 23, 2014)

Tayo is a lifelong gamer hailing from Portlandia. After a stint reviewing movies and music for his college paper, he co-founded the Dangerous Kids video game podcast in 2009. Now he's writing about games instead of yapping about them into a microphone.

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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 23, 2014:

I just thought I would give you a heads up: I added a quick excerpt into that respective field, mainly so the excerpt section on the main page isn't blank. If you'd like to change it, let me know and I can modify it suit.

Also, great review! Keep up the good work.

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