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Mystery Chronicles: One Way Heroics review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

I like to think of Mystery Chronicles: One Way Heroics as an endless runner masquerading as an RPG. After all, the game's core mechanic is that you're going as fast as you can in one direction, trying to outrun the end of the world, and the game ultimately measures how successful you were by looking at how far you went. If that's not the essence of endless runners, I don't know what is.

I'm simplifying things, of course. The major difference is that here you have some small degree of choice as to how directly you travel in that one direction: while the Shine Raid — that aforementioned end of the world, which is literally just a wall of light — is moving towards you relentlessly from one side of the screen, it's up to you whether you just want to boot it in one direction, or if you want to stop and search for loot, battle enemies, and visit the tiny little kingdoms that pop up here and there. On top of that, the easiest mode does have an endpoint — you reach 400km, you beat the fallen angel Alma, and that's it.

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There's also a bit of resource management at play here, as you can carry over a finite number of items from one playthrough to the next. Likewise, your personal stats don't reset every time you start a new game, so you can gradually get stronger with each run.

On this latter point, however, the fact you can carry things over (be they stats or items) points to how much One Way Heroics wants you to play it over and over again. You can also see that in the roguelike nature of the game, and the promise you'll never play the same path twice in a row.

Personally, I don't see the appeal. The combat is incredibly shallow (which, admittedly, makes sense, since you've always got to keep that relentless Shine Raid in mind). Managing resources isn't all that fun, since you know you're going to lose most of them at the end of your current run. The worlds — particularly in the early stages — are empty, which doesn't just mean that you're looking at the same dull environments over and over, it's also a challenge to take on tougher monsters as you get further and further in.

I feel like even the game's designers were aware of One Way Heroics’ shortcomings. After all, why else include cameos with characters from Shiren the Wanderer or Danganronpa? They're fun little Easter Eggs, sure, but it seems like they also make it easy to overlook this game's lack of interesting content.

Or maybe Mystery Chronicles: One Way Heroics just isn't for me. After all, endless runners have never really spoken to me, so it's not like giving them an RPG sheen will make that much difference. If they are your thing, then it might be worth checking out, but know what you’re getting into beforehand.

Grade: C-