Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten - PS4 Review

Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten by developer Aquaplus and publisher NIS AmericaPS4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
It's time again to look at the series I probably have the hardest time pronouncing. A part of the Utawarerumono franchise, we are looking at Monochrome: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten. Set as a prequel to the "Twin Masks" titles, Monochrome Mobius stars Oshtor and his rise to become a strong warrior for his country.

Those of you familiar with the Utawarerumono franchise may be familiar with Oshtar, but those who may be new to the series, allow me to lay out a bit of background into what you'll be getting into. In the land of Yamato, reminiscent of something close to Ye Olde Japan, people with beast-like traits inhabit the land. A young man named Oshtor is living in the village of Ennakamuy with his mother and little sister. One day he is tasked with the local lord to discover what has been happening with some issues with the townsfolk. In the process, Oshtor discovers a girl named Shunya. Shunya tells Oshtor that his father, who he had thought dead many years ago, was still alive. And so Oshtor decides to set out with Shunya in order to see for himself whether his father was still alive or not. Thus begins their adventure to Arva Shulan.

Monochrome Mobius takes a bit of a step away from what you may be expecting from an Utawarerumono title, replacing the "visual novel with turn-based strategy segments" with a "3D exploration and more traditional turn-based battle" style. Yep, that's right, we've got a standard turn-based battle system as well as full 3D map and field exploration this time. Exploring Yamato and Arva Shulan is done by running around a large map (very large actually) as any of the party members you acquire. You roam around, filling in the map as you go, picking up items from shiny locations, snagging chests, and getting into fights (maybe). You can run, although there is a stamina gauge that needs to recover, and jump around, and you can even interact with any friendly people you meet or areas of interest such as climbable vines.

When in town it is pretty similar, only you get a free full recovery, and you can buy stuff at the equipment and item stores, as well as check notice boards for any sidequests that may be available. Later on in the story you can spend some materials at the equipment shop to upgrade the quality of the gear they offer. Pay attention to this, as sometimes "lesser" equipment can end up better at higher "tiers". As an example, if a "steel sword" is better than a "bronze sword" to start out, a "bronze sword II" could end up better than a "steel sword II". Just something I noticed. Side quests can range from a variety of different requests, but can usually be summarized as "go here, defeat thing, report back". Side quests do have time limits, story wise not actual time wise, so be sure to get those done if you're interested!

As an additional note for the shop upgrades, after reaching a certain point in the story you unlock the ability to get, well, abilities by providing certain materials as well as meeting certain gameplay objectives, such as getting incapacitated by certain status effects. This can lead to useful abilities such as increasing the rate your dash stamina comes back, increasing rare material drop chances, or adding markers on the map for shiny items and chests.

Combat in Monochrome Mobius is a little...weird, I guess? Not because the combat mechanics are anything obscure or unintuitive, but more so because it just...might not happen if you play in a certain way? Obviously boss fights and event battles are mandatory, but the developers decided to add in what are probably some anti-frustration features that can be abused a little bit under certain circumstances. Essentially you can attack them on the field map to start the battle, but if you get a certain level stronger than the enemies, instead of starting the fight you just outright kill them on the field map, and you get all the exp and drops you would normally and no resource expenditure. I think some of you can see where this is going. 

Well, needless to say, my first task when introduced to the field map was to explore all the map, even the "tougher areas", as well as fight everything I saw. Cue a short while later and I can now field attack kill all of the enemies I can see that aren't either in the "you don't want to be here, I'm serious" area or a special monster. This does let off as you continue through the game though, so you will start getting into actual fights again later. Oh, also, you do end up getting a fast travel mechanic, so don't worry too much about that early game.

So, how is the battle system actually? It's pretty standard turn-based fare for the most part. Each character or enemy take their turns based on their speed stat, and have options such as attack, skill, item, defend, and flee. Pro tip, by hitting left or right on your turn, you can swap between the "attack, skill, 'spoiler command', item" options and "Defend, flee" options when your turn comes around. So, where is the unique twist you ask? Well, turn order is shown through an "action ring" that your character portraits speed around after taking action. However, there are three actions rings. You can ascend rings, which get smaller in size as you go up, greatly reducing the time between your turns. In order to ascend rings, you have two options. The first, and most likely, is by attacking an enemy a lot. They will get staggered, and the next hit will drop them a ring, or revert their ring position to the start if on the lowest ring, and raise you a ring. The other option is by building up the zeal gauge. When full you get a stat boost and have the special option under your skills to ascend a ring.

As an interesting added bonus for those unfamiliar with Utawarerumono, Bonus Points are a thing. These points are earned primarily on leveling up, and can be assigned to whatever stats you wish, either to improve a positive trait or balance out a lagging trait. For example, Shunya doesn't have a high natural physical attack, so you could bolster that, or you could increase her Int and MP stats so she can deal more spell damage and cast more spells.

I am pleased to let you know that the world is rather pretty in 3D animation, and you can swap between any of your current party members at will on the field map, each of which have their own unique attack animation for starting battle. Also, and this is something I was extremely pleased to see, the animated fights are REALLY well choreographed. Like, seriously, the cinematic battles are really great. Areas you traverse are pretty vast and are also pleasing to look at as well, and the character designs for important characters are good to look at.

Another piece of good news, or pieces, is that the soundtrack is also pretty good. I've always been pleased with the soundtracks from the Utawarerumono games, and Monochrome Mobius doesn't disappoint. Perhaps it doesn't have any really stand out tracks like some of the previous titles, but all the tracks are very thematic and very orchestral in nature. There's a lot of traditional Japanese instrument sounds, and it shows both in composition and tone.

Overall, my experience with Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten was largely positive. I enjoyed the turn-based combat with it's own twist, the characters were interesting, and the graphics and music were well received. The fight scenes were really well choreographed, and finally being able to freely explore in an Utawarerumono title was pretty nice. While I did find the difficulty to be a little lacking on the normal setting, there is a harder difficulty available and self restrictions you can impose for a more challenging playthrough. The fact you can render combat almost non-existant can also hamper your enjoyment. Monochrome Mobius is a solid Utawarerumono title that needs little to no prior knowledge of the series, and is a pretty fun title on its own.

Score: 7.5 / 10



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