Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten Review
Better Safe than Sorry
The series of strategic visual novels Utawarerumono adds a turn-based RPG to its lines. Developed by Aquaplus, Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is an attractive first entry for newcomers while being an opportunity for fans to get to know the origins of some characters of the series. Using a classic RPG formula, the game has everything it should need to satisfy genre fans, yet it lacks a voice of its own as it takes no real risks. Its story, music, and how the different mechanics are combined, however, create an enjoyable 30-plus-hour adventure.
The strongest feature of Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is its story. Players don’t need to be aware of any other events to fully enjoy this entry. The game works as a prequel to Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, so those who played that game will be rewarded with getting to know more about some characters, namely the origins of Oshtor. The story starts in the land of Arva Shulan with Shunya and her father being attacked by a bunch of mysterious people. In order to save Shunya, her father teleports her to a place called Yamato with instructions to look for someone called Oshtor. Although Oshtor lives peacefully in a small village with her mother and siblings, he decides to embark on a tough enterprise to take Shunya back to a fantasy land said to exist only in legends. They are joined by two other likable allies and a talking stuffed animal called Halu in an adventure with mysteries to unravel, powerful warriors to defeat, and ancient powers to unleash, with all of these activities creating a delightful and varied tale. The story includes heartbreaking moments that can get players caught joining the wailing of its characters on somber moments, while also laughing with them when the game decides to not take itself so seriously. The storytelling succeeds in keeping players engaged throughout the whole game while the open ending certainly invites them to play other entries in order to discover what happens next.
What makes the story notably alluring is the set of peculiar denizens, with eccentric characters and awkward interactions being part of the norm. The pacing of the story allows the four playable characters to take their time to develop and spend a fair amount of important events together in order to create strong bonds. Their interactions are mostly funny, and the futuristic toy-like Halu adds a welcome number of sarcastic remarks to the equation. Other main characters add a good dose of comedy too, such as learning about the double life of the ruler of Yamato or the time when the heroes are being trained by master Diktoma, a wise but unconventional warrior. Main antagonists add intrigue to the plot, and secondary characters help shape the world by portraying how people live and the problems they face.
Oshtor and his allies travel to different parts of the empire of Yamato and complete several missions before they are able to get to Arva Shulan. Exploring is rewarding since there are plenty of items scattered across these worlds, as well as a varied set of enemies that also drop items and money. Gathering materials is important since players can invest them in the shop to upgrade it, which unlocks better items and allows them to fortify weapons and armor. Activating Halu’s abilities such as showing items on the map or recovering HP after battles also requires these materials, giving players another good reason to search for them. However, when it comes to consumables, this is where the game falters. Many of the items have the same effects, with players having a wide set of items that they’ll likely never use.
Besides the main story, there are thirty optional quests that players can tackle. The number of requests fits nicely with the length of the game, which comes in at around 35 hours. They are provided little by little in specific moments and give good rewards that motivate players to complete them. Going from one place to another is easy since there are some mechanisms that can be used to fast travel to other areas. A feature that is also highly appreciated is that if the heroes are considerably stronger than the enemies, they can instantly kill them by attacking them on the field with no need to engage in battle. Taking enemies down this way grants the same experience, money, and items that they would have received if they battle them normally. This makes traveling the world and exploring considerably more enjoyable. However, even with this ability, exploring starts to feel a little repetitive in the late portion of the game as there are only a few moments when players encounter puzzles that makes an area feel different.
The turn-based battle system is something new to the series and has a lot of good ideas. Turns are not only determined by the speed of the combatants, but also by the ring their portraits are in. There are three different rings, with inner ones taking less time to get around. In this way, being in the inner rings allows those characters to act a lot faster than the ones on the outer ones. Certain abilities enable characters to move to the inner rings, and enemies can be sent to the outer rings to prevent them from attacking for a while, adding an interesting layer of strategy to the battles. Each character has an element linked to them and a varied set of abilities, with the party having a good balance between healers, mages, and attackers. Players are able to personalize the growth of their characters since they receive battle points whenever they level up. Besides automatic stat increases for each level, they can spend these points to get extra boosts to the stats they desire. The combination of all these features certainly makes the battle system interesting, yet its charm wears after a while
Each character can also use an ability called Overzeal, which is like a limit break, when their gauge has been filled. While using Overzeal, combatants increase their stats, heal from any status ailments, and can unleash a special ability that deals significantly more damage than the rest of the abilities. The heroes can also summon Halu in combat, who turns into a big robot. Unlike the other characters, Halu spends action points each turn, with all abilities requiring the use of these points. Unfortunately, Halu has a very limited number of action points, making him attack at most three times before he needs to be called back. It also takes a lot of time for players to fill the bar used to summon Halu, so the inclusion of Halu in battle becomes an afterthought than a reliable tool.
The game is visually alluring, with a world full of beautiful sights, cute creatures with long ears, and great battle animations. In addition, cutscenes, character design, and enemies help to create a captivating world for the eyes. However, there are several visual bugs such as missing weapons during important cutscenes, with a character charging at an enemy with an invisible sword, making these scenes notably less impactful. Voice acting is only available in Japanese, yet it serves its purpose. The musical score is undoubtedly one of the game’s strengths. It feels varied, adapting to each area and making the adventure more captivating.
Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is an enjoyable game with a good story and a couple of interesting ideas in its battle system. It is an easy recommendation for fans of the series and those looking for a traditional RPG that does not try to invent the wheel. Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten does nothing wrong yet nothing remarkably right to make it memorable.
Disclosure: This review is based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Gripping story with eccentric characters
Interesting way to assign turns in battle
Battling and exploring feel repetitive after a while
An unnecessary variety of consumable items
Several disruptive visual bugs