Mei Q is a game that needed a bit more. In pretty much every category I can think of, it needed just a little more. It needed more exploration of its setting, it needed more fully realised characters, it needed a more well rounded combat system and it definitely needed more originality. The game is an absolute hotbed of minor niggles and generally annoyances, never doing anything so badly that the game falls to pieces but at the same time never doing anything astoundingly right. Its a game that encourages a huge sigh from me as a barely muster up the energy to tap words into my keyboard….
Mei Q is boring which might surprise you looking at the games rather bombastic trailers. And yes, if you have literally never seen an anime before, you might not end up sick to death of the constant tropes this games story throws up. Its a magic girl story with an element of mecha thrown in for good measure, Madoka by was of Gundamn if you will allow me to grossly simplify and misrepresent those two shows. The story starts up by explaining how the world as stopped, literally stopped on its axis, and everywhere has been plunged into eternal night. Now, to be fair, this is a pretty interesting concept and if the game allowed you to explore what it actually means to live inside a stopped world, then it could have been something really engaging, but nothing quite as interesting as that ever happens. It commits the cardinal sin of story telling in that you are told everything has gone to hell and never shown it. And despite having such high stakes the story is pretty small in scope too, never leaving the “southern cross” (think Anime Vatican), which again might have been fine, if I could have walked around town at all and seen what’s what. People who didn’t like the way P3P had no town element need not apply.
Character wise things are more interesting, but not by much. “Archetype” is the name of the game here, but that’s only because I’m feeling too generous to say “cliche”. You play as Estra, the typical hero girl, who is one of the machina mages along with Mopy Girl, Hyper Girl, Rival Girl and Nurse Girl you all set out to save the world. Despite everyone feeling so tropey, they do become pretty likable as the story goes on, and even though the plot was about a generic as cornflakes, I did at least like the people telling it.
One thing I was impressed with was the visual design of everything. The technical graphics are pretty basic, but they do enough to convey what the need to about the art work. Everything works with clear and distinct colour theme which explicitly tells you everything you need to about the Character, the area or the enemy at a glance. The simplicity in shading allows for the actual design to be complex and intricate without becoming over deigned. I particularly liked the mecha designs, they have a very steam punk vibe underpinning their entire design, but with a ceremonial flair that fits with the fact that they are religious artefacts in universe. The girls on the other hand look very non-religious, to be blunt they look more like strippers, which is fine by me but apparently not with Australia. Their not really that bad, but the costumes are very revealing, so if you don’t go for any of that, then maybe steer clear of this one.
Everything is pretty standard fair for a Dungeon RPG in the gameplay department. You explore the dungeon in first person, solving light puzzles and finding items in hiding departments. You move about until you randomly encounter an enemy and enter into turn based combat. I might sound like a broken record here, but again there’s nothing surprising here, it is what ever you expect it to be. There are a few extra garnishes thrown in to make things a little more unique, but nothing too crazy. The biggest addition is the fact the both the mage and the mech act as two separate characters in one slot. You need to rotate between the two to make full use of their abilities, and its really spices up the strategy of combat when you’re playing with a full party.
I would describe the game as totally middle of the road, in basically every aspect. Combat is by the numbers, and the dungeon exploration is bog standard. Its hard to recommend at full price unless you really need the kind of fix right now. And to be fair it does hit a very specific niche, I mean, the genre isn’t exactly sprawling with choice right now. Otherwise its noting more than an easy time waster. See it on sale, feel free to pick it up and waste some bus journeys on this one.