Mind Zero PS Vita Review: A potential future Persona-killer franchise

  • Posted June 8th, 2014 at 06:36 EDT by Dane Smith

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Mind Zero

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A potential Persona-killer franchise once some flaws are ironed out. RPG fans will nevertheless enjoy the game, but those new to the genre might be put off by the grindy, linear nature of the game.

We like

  • One of the best videogame intros in a long time.
  • Triple-A voice acting for a new, small IP.
  • Enjoyable story that makes you think.

We dislike

  • Shrill combat music.
  • Lack of exciting and varied side quests.
  • Characters are stuck with one weapon.

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

Mind Zero is a bit of a conundrum in the music department because of how backwards the music is. The opening theme is awesome and energetic, fitting the theme of the game perfectly. The overview map and inside shops has that Persona 4 feel. Inside battle, though, the tunes take a nose dive of sad proportions, as I immediately was reaching for my MP3 player. The musical director did a great job with everything non-combat, but the battle music was so shrill and grating on the nerves that it was a massive disappointment. In boss battles this was alleviated to a degree, but when you have to do a lot of grinding in normal battles, a good tune is key for longevity and replayability.

What makes up for the music is the triple-A quality voice acting. The game comes with the original Japanese voices and with an English cast. It quickly became apparent that the cast gelled together and had a great working chemistry, as there was a flow to the humorous and awkward scenes. Sometimes those moments fall a bit dead because of how they are synced together in-game. The characters also felt like they had unique personalities, even though some of the girls did sound the same vocally. One odd problem in the sound department was the doors. Sometimes during conversations there would be a ‘door’ sound, which is linked to the story. The first time I heard it, it sounded like a cat. To say the least, for the first chapter I was confused trying to figure out why they were talking about a door, when I heard a cat. I've never had that experience before, thus why it stood out enough to warn about.

This is a dungeon crawler so graphics are not on the top of the list. The character models in combat look from the PS2-era, while in the outside world they are represented by slick anime models. NIS sets the standard for anime characters but Mind Zero put in an A+ effort to make a varied cast, and to show off their personalities with their looks. The dungeons do their best to look varied and original. They won’t push the Vita’s power in the slightest, but at least an effort was made to make them weird to fit the theme of the game. Whether or not you like that weirdness will determine how much you care about the dungeons.

Mind Zero has an interesting narrative, taking the Persona model and going in a different direction. RPG gamers and Persona fans will enjoy the game, but those wanting an experience laden with side quests and little grinding are going to be disappointed. The foundation is there for another great RPG franchise, as long as the flaws like the battle music, side quests, and overworld are ironed out in a potential sequel.

Dane Smith is PSU's Reviews Editor, a licensed teacher from St. Thomas University, and has a healthy addiction to Monster energy drinks. Buy his novel, follow him on twitter or check out his his article catalog.
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