Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is a Japanese RPG by the creators of Utawarerumono, a multimedia challenge that started as a collection of visible novels. Its story technically happens between Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen and Utawarerumono: Masks of Deception. I say technically as a result of Monochrome Mobius is extra tied to the latter. I believe most of the massive questions somebody might have when taking a look at Monochrome Mobius are within the vein of “Do I have to play Utawarerumono or watch the anime first?” or “Does Monochrome Mobius operate as a standalone sport?” The solutions lean extra in direction of “in all probability” and “not likely.”
Monochrome Mobius explores the rise to prominence and energy of protagonist Oshtor, a key character from the Utawarerumono video games. He meets a mysterious younger lady named Shunya, who claims to be the daughter of his father, a father she has solely lately separated from. Confusingly, Oshtor believes his father has been useless for years. These occasions propel Oshtor right into a quest to find the reality of his father and Shunya. Alongside the way in which, he turns into a devoted servant of the god-ruler of their land, the Mikado, as did his father earlier than him — the Mikado additionally options closely in Utawarerumono. Even your third and fourth celebration members, Munechika and Mikazuchi, are massive names from the Utawarerumono video games.
So Monochrome Mobius carefully ties with the opposite video games within the collection on quite a few ranges. Places, characters, and ideas should not all the time defined sufficient for collection newbies, and virtually all of them are launched extra totally within the Utawarerumono video games. It’s exhausting to not see Monochrome Mobius as a companion piece made for followers.
That isn’t to say references and divulges are all Monochrome Mobius has going for it. The backdrop of the collection is lavish and distinctive and impressed by the Ainu folks and tradition. Monochrome Mobius brings gamers the primary alternative to discover its collection’ world in 3D. Characters have distinctive personalities and quite a few optionally available scenes to construct them up much more. On prime of all of this, Aquaplus has managed to create a surprisingly compelling battle system to construct off of.
At a fundamental stage, battles aren’t complicated. On a personality’s flip, they will assault, use skills or gadgets, defend, or try and flee. It’s Monochrome Mobius’ illustration of flip order the place issues get attention-grabbing. Icons representing your celebration and their foes circle a collection of concentric rings referred to as the Motion Ring. Motion on these rings signifies flip order. The interior rings of the Motion Ring are smaller, and due to this fact you (and your enemies) take turns sooner and extra incessantly when occupying the interior Rings. Essentially the most simple method to transfer Rings is to hit staggered enemies, which pushes them to an outer ring and also you to an interior one. This motion amongst the rings may end up in an infinite momentum swing. It isn’t solely flip order that employs the rings — buffs and debuffs have an effect on characters on the rings in varied methods. For instance, a protection buff might have an effect on characters whose icon occupies any ring in a fan form. One other capacity, maybe a pace debuff, would possibly solely have an effect on the ring a personality inhabits. Defeating enemies, dealing crucial hits, and utilizing abilities may drop gems onto the rings that grant boons (similar to therapeutic MP) when one in every of your characters passes over them. The Motion Ring is a enjoyable addition to fight that appears like an summary substitute for character motion.
Zeal provides an extra dimension to battles. As you deal and take harm, Zeal builds up. When it reaches most, it grants you the chance to activate “Overzeal.” This mode lets a personality take a right away flip, boosts their stats, and unlocks extra highly effective strikes. One character positive aspects a further tier of Zeal in the course of the story, growing their energy even additional. Overzeal can prevent in a pinch. One other gauge representing the vitality of the hideous mascot character Halu fills as you do battle. When the gauge fills all the way in which, you may name him into battle for a couple of formidable actions.
All in all, I’m pleasantly shocked by Monochrome Mobius’s fight system. If I had a gripe with it, it might be that battles develop into too simple should you do any aspect content material. With out doing any aspect content material, fight requires acceptable tools to profit from resistances and elemental assaults. Should you do the aspect content material you may be over-leveled sufficient to flatten even bosses solely together with your strongest strikes.
In fact, if the aspect content material wasn’t price exploring, it wouldn’t matter that it makes the sport too simple, however Monochrome Mobius shocked me with the standard of its quests. Many, if not most, of them take you to new areas and result in highly effective treasures, and so they typically provide you with deeper perception into the world and characters as well.
In order that’s fight and questing, however what about exploration? Monochrome Mobius has chests, supplies, vistas, and tremendous bosses hidden in each nook and cranny of its overworld and dungeons. The map marks these when you come shut, so that they aren’t onerous to seek out, however there’s a easy pleasure in working in regards to the lush fields and grabbing gadgets. One factor it does lack is correct dungeon puzzles — outdoors of the ultimate dungeon, the place some actual promise begins to point out.
At this level, I sound very passionate about Monochrome Mobius, however I’ve been specializing in its gameplay, which I preserve is enjoyable and stuffed with potential. Outdoors of gameplay, I’ve fairly a couple of complaints.
Monochrome Mobius continuously makes an attempt to make you snort with its juvenile, crass, and typically creepy humour. I gained’t deny it will get a handful of guffaws out of me, however I typically discover my eyes glazing over till a major dialog begins. I might be extra forgiving of the humour not touchdown for me if the sport didn’t have a powerful “males are from Mars, ladies are from Venus” mentality. The variety of occasions the punchline of a joke is “Males positive are immature” or “Girls positive do have emotions” is way too many. The character designs lean into this angle too, the place many ladies are extremely sexualized — management Shunya when you discover, and her panties are uncovered virtually continuously.
Graphically, Monochrome Mobius just isn’t precisely a stunner. Textures are tough or typically lacking (at launch, NPCs didn’t have faces, which has fortunately been corrected), the draw distance isn’t nice, and the digital camera feels wonky. I performed on Steam Deck and located the sport must be locked to 30 FPS for a gradual expertise. Nonetheless, in some way the fight animations (and a few of the cutscenes) are spectacular, and Monochrome Mobius seemingly has the coziest mine break-room in gaming. Then again, I’ve little damaging to say in regards to the soundtrack. It does an ideal job of feeling exploratory, wondrous, and mysterious and all the time put me in the proper temper to play the sport.
My best grievance after writing and graphics is the pacing. Monochrome Mobius can sluggish to an excruciating crawl moments after a few of its most hype-inducing occasions in a method that makes you marvel if these occasions even occurred to the characters. It should additionally take away gameplay for much too lengthy, which works in visible novels as a result of it can save you anyplace. However right here, you must use save factors, so it’s possible you’ll end up caught in near-endless cutscenes and dialogue. In some way, regardless of the deluge of cutscenes, the story finally ends up feeling oddly barebones and padded too. The pacing is at its greatest very early and on the very finish, and I do suppose it sticks the touchdown.
I alluded to the very fact the sport has acquired patches earlier, and I need to finish on that be aware. I’m happy by Aquaplus’ choice to enhance this sport after launch. Most significantly, there was a time when the participant character’s sluggish working animation gave me movement illness in a method no different sport has, which is now fastened. Alongside this animation repair, motion pace has additionally elevated, which makes it way more possible to dodge monsters within the area, a requirement in any RPG with image encounters.
Monochrome Mobius might not be a sport for everybody — and even many individuals. It’s clearly written for Utawarerumono followers, and in altering its design philosophy from a visible novel with occasional tactical fight to a full-fledged RPG, it seemingly loses a lot of these followers as nicely. It additionally has obvious flaws in its pacing and writing and will use a graphical improve. However it’s a strong proof of idea for what an Utawarerumono RPG may very well be, and I see a variety of potential in Aquaplus’ future as an RPG developer in the event that they want to pursue it.