Developed by Spike Chunsoft, Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics is a forced side-scrolling rougelike RPG that is actually a re-imaging of the indie PC game One Way Heroics. With the original developer Smoking Wolf giving their blessings to Spike Chunsoft, this version is chock full of new classes, bosses, and a few changes while still retaining the same old gameplay that made its counterpart so engaging, only being marred with what the Mystery Chronicle brand can bring to the table. So does this entry in the series manage to elevate it to greater heights?
Title: Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics
Genre: Side-scrolling RPG, Rougelike
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
System: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, PC [via steam]
As aforementioned, compared to its progenitor, Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics is a game that truly lives by the expectations set in the original which revolves around multiple playthrough sessions. Besides clearing the main scenario of defeating the Fallen Angel Alma or seeing how long you go with trying to outrun the Shine Raid, a deadly light created by her that advances forward killing all that stands in its path – with every session it does unlock new possibilities and pathways that can be explored further lengthening the replay value. Of course, if you are trying to get the most out it and seeing everything you can in Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics, compared to the original, it does feel sometimes like an uphill battle starting each new session despite not being all that difficult or challenging. It’s more of an experience thing.
For those unfamiliar with the original, this incarnation does not stray too far off the beaten path when it comes the gameplay and mechanics. At the start of each game you pick your character class, special abilities, and then begin your journey across the world to reach your given objective. In the easiest difficulty setting it will always be to defeat the aforementioned Fallen Angel Alma but in the higher difficulty tiers can depend greatly on the conditions you set in place. Regardless, along the way there are monsters to slay, treasure to find, and NPC’s to interact with that will sell useful items, information, and some that will even act as traveling companions. Of course, the monsters will possibly be killing you, not running across much riches, and if you engage in foolishness (I.E: stealing, killing innocent animals, etc), the NPC’s out to kill you and making your goal of a homicidal run of death, destruction, and luxury nothing but a murmur in the wind. But hey, that is One Way Heroics for you: each run might end in an unfortunate accident due to your own folly or something unexpected, yet always fueling the flames for the next bout. Sadly, while the game does inspire and make you want to proclaim “just one more” go around, it doesn’t quite evoke that response as much as the original and would say that this entry is more for those that never experience the PC game. Nonetheless, there are still some notable differences that might be of interest to past players.
Since Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics was made slightly on the heels of Smoking Wolf putting out an enhanced version for the original, much of mechanics and additions aren’t completely included, but in many ways, the Mystery Chronicle brand does function like its own expansion, especially for those familiar with the original. One major addition is new classes that function like the previous ones but might change up how you approach each playthrough. The same old guard such as: swordsman, knight, archer, and others still are in but take the stage alongside choices like: wanderer and ultimate student. And yes, you read it right: you get to play as characters from Shiren the Wanderer and Danganronpa as their own class. However, like mentioned, aside from a few new quirks and specialized equipment, they are more or less similar to the other classes besides in the style of play you might employ. Another new (yet very small) addition to the item pool is traps that you can buy and randomly can be found on the map. Being a touch from Spike Chunsoft’s Shiren franchise, these traps can cause different aliments such as hunger increase, confusion, and other misfortune conditions, but can be thankfully disarmed and even used on your enemies if properly set and baited. Like the original, successfully clearing the game will give you a certain amount of points (called Genesis Stones here) that will allow you to unlock new character classes, abilities, and other miscellaneous options that might even lock new scenarios, if you have enough Dream Stones – another game staple received from shops and killing strong monsters. Other than that and as stated before, the general game is overall the same.
With being developed by a studio as big Spike Chunsoft opposed to a small developer, the game does get a major overhaul when it comes the graphical side of things. Everything from the UI to other prompts retain the feel of the original game, but more easier on the eyes and more simpler to access for those taking advantage of the console versions. You also have the option to use a controller if your on PC, but for those in the Playstation ecosystem it is cross-buy/cross-save and nothing beats having the game across 3 devices. That being said, the artwork also receives a major boost in style, departing away from the minimalistic and charmingly crude 2D style to something a little more detailed and fleshed out. Limited voice acting is also present in this version, but it is….well, very limited outside certain character events and the like so don’t expect much.
In the end, Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics is a nice game, but for those that have already experience the original – you might find yourself wanting something more. Sure the new classes and Spike Chunsoft’s own take might be enough to lure you in, but probably won’t be for long and has the same problem as the vanilla version with managing repetition fatigue. It’s really meant for the uninitiated that haven’t touched the original, yet not completely unheard of that veterans can’t find their own sense of pleasure. If you can deal with that much, then your in for a “great in bite-sized pieces” type of title. However, seeing where I had logged about 110 hours in the original and plus edition combined, I am hopeful that I will be near, if not close to the same in this incarnation despite finding it a little monotonous. So just maybe it will be more than bite-size…if you have the appetite for it.
Pros: Tons of replay, a lot of unlockable content, daily quest updates, Cross-buy/save for the Playstation ecosystem, updated user interface and character artwork, social media (Twitter) integration.
Cons: Most of the character classes play style feels similar, despite the replay value content can feel repetitious.