More and more JRPGs are coming to PCs, allowing greater exposure to some classic stories. While Atlus’ Persona series is still limited to Sony devices, something extraordinarily similar has appeared. People who are okay with a Persona-like instead can go for Mind Zero. Because really, it’s similar enough to satisfy those cravings, even if it isn’t a perfect substitute.
It starts with the setting. Like Persona, Mind Zero stars a cast of high schoolers who make contracts with MINDS, their counterparts from another state of existence. More harmful MINDS are creeping from their original homes, the Inner Realm, to our own. As Minders, they stop the malicious MINDS that are possessing people and delve into dungeons to keep them from continuing to head into the Outer Realm. In each case, the supernatural partners are connected to the party members. In Persona, they’re another side to themselves, and they’re the Inner Realm versions of the Outer Realm characters bound to aid them in the other.
The MINDS give them access to skills and abilities they wouldn’t normally have, acting as guardians that bolster their strength and defenses. Like Personas, MINDS are the only way Mind Zero’s cast can use special abilities. The cast are ordinary people without them. It’s only when this ally is summoned that magical spells and special attacks can be used against foes. The bond forces you to rely on this supernatural being.
The story is similar too, in particular to Persona 3 and 4. In each of those games, a group of high schoolers were responsible for protecting people and solving mysteries. With Mind Zero, Kei, Sana, Leo and their allies end up working with a private investigator as they all look deeper into the MIND issue. At the same time, they’re working outside the law, because the police think drugs are behind the criminal incidents. Like Persona, only the Mind Zero cast knows the truth behind the situation.
Once these teens head into a dungeon, it goes old school. The original Persona games were first-person dungeon crawlers. Mind Zero takes the same approach. There are traps, treasures and monsters, of course, all of which can be stumbled around as you get turned around every path. It’s a throwback to not only Persona’s roots, but dungeon crawling JRPGs in general. Heading into a fight starts a turn-based brawl, another commonality the two share.
The important thing to remember is that Mind Zero isn’t necessarily a Persona copycat, which helps when it comes to playing through this very similar game. The two happen to rely on a number of JRPG stereotypes. When all those tropes gather together, the result is a game that feels very similar, while still having unique mechanics and storyline elements.
Mind Zero was released on Windows PCs last week, arriving almost two years after its English PlayStation Vita debut. As a warning, game ends on a cliffhanger, with no sequel in sight.