The brilliant Mary Skelter: Nightmares comes to Steam this week

Mary Skelter: Nightmares was one of my favourite games of last year. It was released exclusively on PlayStation Vita exclusive, though, and while great for residents of #VitaIsland, that left the game with a much smaller potential audience than it deserved. Fortunately, Mary Skelter is getting a PC release courtesy of Ghostlight Games, and the best news is that it’ll be available this week—July 19, to be precise (or July 20 for Australia and New Zealand).

Mary Skelter: Nightmares is turn-based first-person dungeon crawler in the style of Etrian Odyssey and Demon Gaze, but with a much darker setting. Taking place inside the Jail, a living, breathing, organic prison hidden deep underground. As I said when I reviewed the Vita version last year, “The whole ‘living dungeon’ premise allows for some otherworldly sights: walls throb with a pulse, eyes watch your every move, and intestines hang out through cracks, waiting to be severed. This is meshed with more typical architecture as a result of the Jail quite literally having swallowed a whole city in the years past; with urban streets, temples, and boardwalks in its DNA, the Jail’s evolved to become a sort of haphazard pastiche of the cities of the ‘old world’.”

Within this bizarre world, Mary Skelter follows the efforts of the “Blood Maidens”—all based on well-known fairy tale and folklore characters like Cinderella and Red Riding hood—to find a way out. Blood Maidens are powerful fighters, gaining their power from being showered on the blood of slain demons within the Jail. Absorb too much blood, though, and they go berserk, getting much more powerful but running the risk of turning on their allies.

It’s surreal, it’s eerie, it’s captivating. And underneath all that is a rock-solid dungeon crawler, with some of the most creative labyrinth designs I’ve seen and a deep, complex battle system. The story that unfolds is edge-of-your-seat stuff, while also being transgressive and thought-provoking, and the fairy-tale cast is a delight to spend time with.

If you couldn’t play Mary Skelter on PS Vita—or you just want an excuse to revisit it—you’ll want to check out the PC version. I’ve got a review on the way, but given Ghostlight’s excellent track record with PC ports, I’m confident it’ll be every bit as brilliant as the last year’s release.

Matthew Codd

Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.