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Mary Skelter: Nightmares (神獄塔 メアリスケルター, Divine Prison Tower Mary Skelter) is a Dungeon Crawling RPG initially developed for the Playstation Vita by Compile Heart. It was released in Japan in 2016 and in the west in 2017, with an English PC port via Steam in 2018.
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In a cataclysm long ago, the sentient hellhole known as The Jail was created. Anyone unlucky enough to be dragged inside is kept as a prisoner, regularly tortured by the "Marchens" that live within the Jail and living in fear of the invincible Nightmares that rule it. Jack and Alice are two such prisoners, until they're busted out of their cell by a girl who can fight the Marchens. Calling herself Red Riding Hood, she claims Alice is like her, a Blood Maiden, and it's readily apparent there's more to Jack than meets the eye...

Notable for combining its heavy use of blood theming with a Fractured Fairy Tale take on its playable cast.

A sequel for the PlayStation 4, Mary Skelter 2, released in 2018 with an enhanced remake of the first game. The setting is nearly identical to the first, with some minor changes: Little Mermaid and new character Otsuu are members of the Dawn, and rescue Jack and Alice from the Jail. Things go sour when Alice falls into Blood Skelter and sends the other three off of the side of a cliff. Jack, mortally wounded, is transformed into a friendly Nightmare.

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A port of Mary Skelter 2 was announced for the Nintendo Switch on March 30, 2019 and a western localization announcement was made May 10, 2019, with a pending release date on both.

Tropes associated with Mary Skelter: Nightmares:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The remake expands on the Another Story ending and ultimately results in the revival of Little Mermaid, bringing closure to the sequel.
  • Alien Blood: Marchen blood is a shocking shade of magenta, and glows in the dark. This isn't just censorship, Jack's (mostly-)human blood is shown as red.
  • All Just a Dream: In the remake, Jack and Otsuu invoke this trope by dismissing the Mary Skelter 2 timeline as a bad nightmare when they're asked for specifics about what happened there.
  • All There in the Manual: There are two novels that go along with (some versions of) the game. One, aptly named Prologue, details how the Jail appeared, the disaster from 15 years ago, a bit of of backstory for the Blood Maidens and the formation of the Blood Team. The second one, Hikari no Arika, follows a different cast through events parallel to what's going on in the game, it's required reading to get the context to some events in the last parts of the game.
  • Always Save the Girl: Mutually between Jack and Alice. Keeping each other alive is more important to them than anything else.
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    • In the backstory, Dr. Ueshima (Miko's mentor) joined the expedition into the Jail Tower in an attempt to invoke this trope, reasoning that the men will prioritize her safety over doing something reckless. She gets bitten in half for her troubles.
  • Antagonist Title: The Japanese title references the Jail Tower, while the English title references the Nightmares.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The Compile Heart-staple touching minigame only has to be performed successfully once per character; following that, the game allows you receive the statistical benefits instantly without playing the minigame.
      • Inversely, the minigame can be played for no blood cost once the game is cleared.
    • Alice's Rabbit Hole ability is a portable save point, an instant dungeon exit and impromptu dungeon marker, and only costs a single point of SP to set. And the dungeon you tackle before you get Rabbit Hole is the only one to have a fixed save point.
    • Zigzagged with the requirements for the True Ending. You are given more than one attempt to choose the correct room within the Dawn to investigate, but if you fail to get all the Mary Gun upgrades before Haru leaves his post to investigate the tower, then you're out of luck. Likewise, the game will warn you when you're about to trigger the final boss event, but doesn't give any warning about the extremely important event that precedes it.
    • Nightmares will not spawn to chase you on floors that have heavy puzzle elements.
    • The player is supposed to unlock the remake by finishing Mary Skelter 2, but an unlock key can be downloaded as free DLC. Futhermore, the game will let you skip right to the Jail Tower climb if you can successfully identify the Big Bad, allowing players who have already played the original and are just trying to get to the added scenes that bring closure to the sequel to skip several dozen hours of gameplay.
  • Beef Gate: In the remake there is a memo placed near the Jail Tower on the City Streets map, accessible immediately after getting Snow White. Trying to get the memo will toss you into battle against Stone Eater and Saturn, enemies you shouldn't encounter until you're in the upper levels of the Jail Tower itself.
  • The Berserker: A maiden in Blood Skelter will attack allies and enemies indiscriminately, with enough of a power boost to make this a serious problem.
  • Blood Lust: Marchen blood tastes sweet to the Blood Maidens and also raises their aggressive tendencies.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: A game mechanic. Once a Blood Maiden is covered in enough Marchen Blood, she'll enter Massacre or Blood Skelter mode. Jack can also spray them with his blood to purge corruption.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The remake gives you Otsuu and Little Mermaid as a reward for clearing its postgame. Odds are that there will be nothing left in the game to use the reward on at that point.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Everything Jack does in battle, though he uses a mechanic more abstract than numerical HP - how much blood he has left. Using the Mary Gun when low on blood or blocking an attack can leave him stunned, too many stuns in one battle and he's knocked out completely.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The game occasionally slips in some of the silly banter that Compile Heart's lighter works are known for, particularly in the relationship cutscenes. Though even those have Mood Whiplashes, such as Kaguya going from exploiting Jack's Nice Guy nature for her lazy lifestyle to lamenting how everyone treats her different after she shares the secret of their births.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The memos found throughout the game end up becoming plot-relevant, but the most notable one is given to you about midway through the first chapter. To elaborate, it's a picture of a magnolia leaf drawn by Professor Tohjima, and the characters take a brief moment to note how terrible Tohjima's handwriting is compared to the author of the note found in the Jail. (Even though the writing looks identical in the pictures.) Once the Jail notes start getting suspicious, the Professor claims that he wrote the notes and forgot about them. To get the True Ending, you have to choose the magnolia leaf memo during the interrogation and call the Professor out on his lie.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: One of the big reveals surrounding the Jail is that it can mimic a person's desires if said desires are strong enough. Snark plans to exploit this to remake the world, but is thwarted by Hikari's desire reincarnating her as the Angelic Girl and setting the stage for the Blood Team to engage in a final battle.
  • Cooldown Hug: How Jack brings Alice down from her first Blood Skelter. It's technically because he bleeds on her, but the emotion is there.
  • The Corruption: Corruption builds up in Blood Maidens as they're exposed to stress - in gameplay terms, taking large amounts of damage at once, having a weakness hit, or seeing an ally KO'ed. The worse the corruption, the higher the chances of them entering Blood Skelter.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: As of the remake, the canon seems to be original "Another Story" ending (with added Adaptation Expansion) -> Mary Skelter 2 true ending -> Mary Skelter remake post-game -> Mary Skelter remake true ending. This happy ending is one that was very much earned.
  • Darker and Edgier: This game is significantly darker and more creepy than standard Compile Heart fare. You know you're in for something special when one of the first lines of dialogue is Jack asking Alice to lick his open torture wounds.
    • The prologue novels included on the Japanese website and in the English Limited Edition manage to be even more gory than the actual game, chronicling the disastrous Jail Tower expedition among other things. We're even "treated" to pictures of the Dawn expedition's Team Mom and Little Mermaid being impaled by the Jail core and Red Riding Hood, respectively.
  • Deus ex Machina: Even with the Clap Your Hands If You Believe explanation, Hikari reincarnating with god-like powers and conveniently setting the stage for the Blood Team to face the skyscraper-sized Jail Nightmare comes completely out of left field. It doesn't help that Hikari is a bit character who was only briefly developed in the in-game prequel novel.
  • Developers' Foresight: The character endings feature a close-up portrait of the girl that Jack has the highest affection with. The developers made sure to include a portrait for every single class/character combination in the game. Likewise, the ending cast shot accounts for whether or not Hameln is in the party.
    • Surprisingly averted with the remake in regards to recruiting Hameln, given the previous level of thoroughness surrounding her. Due to changes in the labyrinth layouts it's entirely possible to go partially through both the Waterside and Dorm areas, get all the parts for the Mary Gun, and use it to head to her cave. The events will play out as though you had already recruited Gretel and Rapunzel, even if you hadn't.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Sleeping Beauty is the first character to join with an AOE ability in her default job and she has naturally high speed. Shortly after she joins, Cinderella, who also has innate AOE skills and high ability, can join in Chapter 3 and the two of them in tandem can turn nearly every random battle into a cakewalk until the characters with the multi-elemental abilities that always hit the enemy weakness can get enough SP to warrant being able to spam them.
    • The Tower is opened well before you're ready to handle the monsters inside, but if you're able to trigger a Merchant encounter within it (and have the money), you can purchase near-endgame equipment.
    • The Little Sword, made by using Tiny Princess on a Long Sword, provides an impressive 25 HP and Agility and an additional 9 Defense when fully upgraded. This will allow a Paladin Alice to easily be the second fastest member of the team behind Sleeping Beauty, enabling quick use of Cover to survive anything Sleeping Beauty fails to kill off. This weapon can be made toward the end of the Graveyard and will easily serve into the Dorm and Waterside labyrinths before a sufficient replacement is found.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The game's theme song, "Arakajime Ushinawareta Bokura no Ballad", is performed by Earphones - a group consisting of Thumbelina's, Snow White's, and Sleeping Beauty's voice actresses.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The game doesn't even try to hide Massacre's resemblance to orgasm.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The Another Story optional area turns out to be one. To elaborate, the Blood Team is sent to explore a recently discovered area. Upon going there they find another Nightmare and a dungeon Core, noticing that both the monster and the Jail itself are acting strange. After a long and tiresome chase and battle, they discover a passage leading to what can only be outside the Jail. What did they find there? Another Jail, with the party realizing all of their world's surface might be like that. A hell of a contrast to how hopeful most of the other endings turn out.
    • The bad ending also amounts to one giant Now What? moment. The Order's followers are dead, the Tower withers away rendering escape impossible, Snark is nowhere to be found, Haru can't even speculate what will happen once the Jail seed's insemination takes effect, and the heroes are left wondering whether their efforts were All for Nothing.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • "Genocide Mode" becomes "Massacre Mode" in the English version, probably because "genocide" is a word loaded with not-so-great implications for native English-speakers. The skills that the mode grants are likewise changed from "Geno-[name]" to "Mass [name]." The Genocide/Massacre Skills still retain the exploding G icon.
    • In a more general Cultural Translation sense, Blood Maidens go by the Japanese titles of their namesake fairy tales in the Japanese version and the English translations of said fairy tales in the English version. (For example, Akazukin vs Red Riding Hood.) It gets interesting when the opening movies not only directly romanize the Japanese names, but the opening video for Mary Skelter 2 flat-out uses the English names at certain points.
  • Early Game Hell: While the City Streets are quite merciful, the Graveyard is far less so. You start with only Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, characters intended for the back row, due to Alice and Red Riding Hood running in first. The pair have almost no gear unless you gathered it ahead of time and you're forced to pass through a forced encounter to reunite the team. The remake eases up on that last point, but the smaller maps mean you're far more likely to encounter the Nightmare. It's entirely possible for it to show up behind you while you're in the dead end path leading to Alice and Red Riding Hood, disabling the event and leaving you trapped in a near guaranteed Game Over. Once you rescue Thumbelina, gaining a full and balanced party, the game's difficulty eases up considerably.
  • Easter Egg: The Blood Maidens, Clara, and Miko react when you touch their heads, hands, or legs on the menu screens.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Playing the game on the easiest difficulty reduces the amount of experience points the party receives after battle; the game even warns you about this when you begin a new game. This is inverted on Horror difficulty, where enemies are the hardest but the party gains an experience boost.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Defied. There's no particular correlation between the five elements, and the Blood Maidens' resistances and weaknesses depend entirely on what they have equipped. The game even provides an elemental wheel tutorial that is completely pointless.
    • Played straight in the remake and Mary Skelter 2. While they provide the same useless tutorial, minus the Lightning element as that has since been removed, there is correlation on the elements for enemies. There are two opposing sets of elements, with the other set neutral, for any given enemy. Wind and Water or Fire and Earth. The Blood Maidens can still freely adjust their weaknesses and resistances through gear.
  • Evolving Credits: The remake has a second opening video that includes Otsuu and Little Mermaid in the Blood Maiden introductions.
  • Fairy Tale: All the party members are named and themed that way. Jack (he of beanstalk fame), Alice and her rabbit-holes, Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Thumbelina, Cinderella, Gretel and Rapunzel are all recognizable names. The odd-girl-out to Western players is Kaguya, who's based on the Japanese folk story "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" (which to be fair is just as well-known in Japan as the Grimm tales and their ilk are to English speakers).
    • There's also the Pied Piper of Hamelin and references to a much more obscure tale called The Hunting of the Snark
  • Fan Disservice: One action the all-female party can take during battle is licking blood off each other. This is accompanied by moans of mixed discomfort and pleasure from both participants. That this serves to satisfy the Jail's libido only further adds to the wrongness of it all.
  • Foreshadowing: The Professor's demonstration of how the Jail's mimicry allows it to go as far as replicating voices comes back later when a bean pod like Marchen is disguised as Michiru to lure her followers into the Jail Tower. Though never heard by the player, it apparently spoke just enough to convince them to follow, being silent the rest of the time until growling at the real Michiru. The mimicry is also more precise when handled by complete Jail cores themselves, the real Michiru being a perfect copy of the original who died when the jail landed and Mamoru's group being mostly the same as their originals but with the minds of the original Dawn exploration team mixed in.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: During the prologue, Jack and Alice hear the very loud sounds of battle coming from above them, which draws most of the guards away. The blood splatter from Red Riding Hood's unsubtle incursion is already on the map and serves as your guide to escape the first Murder Hunt.
  • Genius Loci: The Jail itself. It doesn't appear to takes sides, though; if the Blood Maidens sate its desires, it'll reward them and/or punish its own denizens without a second thought.
  • Genre Mashup: Both games are dungeon crawlers that incorporate Roguelike, Metroidvania, and Survival Horror elements while presenting the story in Visual Novel style. Two Nightmares from the first game reuse some Trillion: God of Destruction combat mechanics, simply viewed in first person and set into real time rather than turn based actions; All areas of the Jail possess certain gimmicks to progress tied to specific Blood Maidens you may or may not have access to yet; And all Nightmare chases disable the use of both the map and menus cutting you off from any resources you may have outside of HP and SP so as to require a swift escape from an unkillable enemy before being worn out.
  • God Guise: Michiru is revered by the Order of the Sun as a divine figure called Oohime. It turns out that some people decided to worship Michiru for her Cloudcuckoolander tendencies and Chiaki decided that running with it would be better for her safety. The only thing special about her is that she was likely the very first mimic created by the Jail. It's later implied that the Order of the Sun's formation was yet another manipulation by Snark.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Jack and Alice aren't particularly trusting of the Dawn at any point, but questions start being raised once it is revealed that Nightmares are intelligent beings and things really get murky when the team finds Hansel (a Nightmare) and Gretel (a Blood Maiden) living like family and has to decide whether to leave them alone or take Hansel out. They ultimately decide that there are too many things that can go wrong with Hansel around, though none of the team feels good about exterminating him.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Surprisingly averted. Conventional firearms are enough to down any given Marchen. The problem is that the people in the Jail have been cut from civilization for over two decades and have no means of producing or maintaining such weapons. There were too many Marchens and too little ammo, not to mention that most of the hardware people down there did have was lost in the disaster 15 years ago.
    • The one time a normal gun shows up in the game it is treated as a very real threat.
    • Played straight with the Nightmares due to their Healing Factor.
  • Happily Ever After: This trope is quoted word-for-word as the heroes' goal once they learn about their namesake fairy tales. However, the ending is much more ambiguous as to what happens after they escape the Jail.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Dream (lowest enemy stats but lowered EXP), Normal, and Horror (highest enemy stats but higher EXP).
  • Implacable Man: Nightmare are invincible ordinarily. If you get cornered, all you can do is stun them and run away.
  • Interface Screw: On any difficulty above Dream, a Murder Hunt will disable the map and black out the surroundings, forcing you to run blindly from a nightmare, with only the luminous blood splatter from previous Marchen fights for guidance.
  • Internal Reveal: The fact that the characters are based on fairy tales is obvious to just about everyone playing the game, but is an endgame revelation to the characters In-Universe.
  • Kill and Replace: Snark does this to Professor Tohjima after the failed Jail expedition, taking advantage of the Professor's reclusive nature. Miko is the only member of the Dawn from that era to even suspect anything, and she decides not to act on it.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail:
    • Remember those prisoners from the very start of the game, those two with fairly unique designs that are voiced even in the frugal English dub? Yeah, they show up again. The girl in particular helps the heroes out big time in reaching the Golden Ending.
    • Retroactively done in the remake and the sequel with Little Mermaid.
  • Meta Twist: The remake takes place after the timeline is corrected in Mary Skelter 2's ending. It is not strictly included as a bonus or to help players who did not play the original; the remake's expanded post-game contains the ultimate ending of the narrative for both games.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • The Golden Ending requires the player to investigate the lab in Chapter 3, obtain all three Mary Gun upgrades, correctly deduce the identity of Snark, and use the Mary Gun Reverser to save the chosen girl after defeating the Jail Nightmare.
    • Fail to choose the correct option after the Jail Nightmare is defeated, and the chosen girl falls to her doom before you are abruptly kicked back to the title screen.
    • Fail to identify the traitor, and the Professor is still revealed to be Snark, but sacrifices the Order of the Sun's followers to create the Evil God. The player defeats it, but Snark's plan is complete and it is implied that the planet is screwed.
    • The remake adds a variation of the Golden Ending in which every major character from both games manage to escape.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Nightmares, in addition to chasing after you in real time, are capable of leapfrogging over party members in the turn order if you take too long to choose battle actions.
  • Nerf: The remake's attempts at balancing things largely amounts to this and enemy side Balance Buffs. Numerous Tiny Princess items, such as the Little Sword or Small Nurse Outfit, that could last most of the game had their stats put in line with the rest, requiring more frequent changes in gear, while far more enemies are given full party attacks to reduce the reliance on a Cover spamming Paladin and promote a more aggressive playstyle paired with slightly more defensive gearing on the party as a whole.
  • Nice Guy: Jack is unconditionally pleasant to everyone he meets. The main thing stopping him from being in Extreme Doormat territory is Alice telling him to stop when someone tries to take advantage.
  • Non-Elemental: Mortal Force is an Infinity +1 Element variant, hitting everything's weakness, even if they don't have one, for massive damage and generally resulting in multiple kills plus a ludicrous amount of blood splatter. The only things in place to prevent this spell from trivializing the entire game are an initially-exorbitant SP cost and an unusually massive customization cost to fully upgrade it, problems that cease to exist in the latter half of the game. Blood Chemists learn Disaster Rune, a slightly weaker variant of the spell that retains the ability to hit nonexistent weaknesses.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The preview novel covering the failed Jail Tower expedition only gives the characters nicknames. (Professor, Assistant, Leader, Chief, Mother, Doctor) However, we learn from the game itself that the Professor's last name is Tohjima, and it's all but stated that the Doctor is Miko's mentor whose last name is Ueshima.
  • Post-End Game Content: "Another Story" is an interesting twist on this. The Golden Ending closes in such a way that would make it really hard to justify further adventures in the game world, so the game instead rewinds to tell what effectively amounts to an Interquel with deliberately-questionable canonicity. Gameplay-wise, however, it is a fairly straightforward Playable Epilogue with the final dungeon being fully explorable and all of the endgame events removed.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The ending theme is a remixed medley of classical songs With Lyrics.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • It's implied Jack has been habitually wounding himself so Alice can lick up his blood for as long as they've been in prison. When the Mark of Dawn examine him, they note he's chronically anemic, explaining why Alice went through similar treatment but is in better condition.
    • In a game full of supernatural powers, Snark escapes being cornered by the heroes by pulling a gun on them.
  • Relationship Values: Giving the Blood Maidens gifts unlock character scenes, which in turn unlock Massacre skills.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Pink eyes, actually. They show a Blood Maiden is in danger of slipping into Blood Skelter.
  • Reincarnation: The Jail's mimicry can do this to the dead, to fictional characters (case in point, the Blood Team) and even give form to sheer desire.
  • Retcon: A very minor one in the remake regarding the post-game: Another Story happens after Snark is defeated, instead of being set at an ambiguous time before the climax. The player can talk to Hikari at any point to trigger the ending.
  • Schmuck Bait: This can be invoked on the Nightmares, who will happily walk into traps in the dungeons while trying to chase you. It only deals a tiny amount of damage, however.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spiritual Successor: Compile Heart's Tokyo Clanpool shares several similarities with Mary Skelter, the primary difference being that Tokyo Clanpool's tone is significantly lighter. Of course, with Mary Skelter 2's release, this relationship is severely downplayed.
  • The Story That Never Was: In the remake, the events leading to Mary Skelter 2 are completely averted. Since the heroes locate Little Mermaid's corpse for Nightmare Otsuu, she can use the Government Building Jail egg to revive Mermaid right then and there instead of relying on time travel.
  • Super Mode: A Blood Maiden who gets covered in Marchen blood will enter Massacre for a few turns, giving them a power boost, access to special skills, and restoring HP and SP from further blood splatter.
  • Support Party Member:
    • Jack's role in battle. He's the only one with access to the team's items, and can use his Mary Gun to purge corruption or end Blood Skelter. In a pinch, he can also guard a blood maiden. If he gets KOed, you lose access to all these functions, and since he's the one with the items, he can't be revived during battle.
    • Blood Maidens not actively participating in battle can partner up with one who is to offer stat boosts and support skills.
  • Tightrope Walking: Some dungeons feature chains suspended over bottomless pits that the player has to maintain their balance on as they are automatically led across.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: It's implied right from the start that Tokyo is the city that sunk underground, but the Blood Team comes across Shinjuku's Tochomae Station in Another Story which confirms it. The remake has a second bonus dungeon located in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which has become a Jail Tower that stands tall among the wreckage of what used to be Shinjuku.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Most of the Nightmares can be summed up as "FOEs but in real time". Two of them are instead better described as "Trillion as a multi floored Puzzle Boss."
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Alice raises the party's physical damage output when Jack is unconscious and there's nothing stopping Jack from using his skills with a near empty supply of blood short of a >50% chance at passing out for overtaxing his blood supply. Use a shot, pass out, have Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella wipe everything in one attack, repeat every single random encounter.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: The Nightmares are invincible until each area's core is destroyed. It's possible to evade the Nightmares until then, as they do not initiate battle automatically upon contact, but it is also possible to get cornered by them, forcing a fight to knock them out for a while before escaping again.
    • This is the decision that the Blood Team comes to regarding Hansel.
  • Voodoo Shark: The novel attempts to Hand Wave the Internal Reveal by stating that the Professor deliberately chose not to tell them, but one wonders how the people of the Liberated District can interact with someone calling themselves Sleeping Beauty and not mention the fairy tale. It also leaves the question of why they'd need to come up with that, as the game itself already establishes that normal and complete names, such as Miko and Towa's, have already become a notable oddity rather than the norm.
  • Women Are Wiser: In the backstory, the Dawn's leaders hold a vote to determine whether they should explore the Jail Tower. The two "no" votes belong to Mother and Doctor, the only ladies on the council. It is unfortunately (for them) immediately Subverted, as Doctor uses an Always Save the Girl gambit to convince herself to go and Mother changes her mind as well.
  • Word Salad Title: Downplayed. "Mary Gun" and "Blood Skelter" are terms within the game's story, but "Mary Skelter" is a mashup of the two with no meaning.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The entire conflict is manufactured by Snark with the end goal of invoking the Jail seed. He creates the Blood Team and the Order of the Sun to provide the human sacrifice required to use its powers, and if he is unable to use either of them, simply jumps in himself.

Tropes specific to Mary Skelter 2 (Heavy spoilers ahead!)

  • All for Nothing: All of Otsuu's effort to save Little Mermaid only results in a world where Jack and the other Blood Maidens die, and Little Mermaid ultimately chooses to undo it all for their sake. Or at least, that's how it seems at first.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If a party member ends a battle with their Blood Gauge filled, it will be reduced by one unit. This prevents an issue in the Vita and Steam versions of the first game where a Blood Maiden who is faster than Jack could fall into Blood Skelter before he takes his first turn. Unfortunately, it does come at a price. The newly added passive corruption gains, on top of the damage and death gains, does put the team at a higher risk of Blood Skelter than was present originally, however not being able to start a fight with a full blood gauge makes it much harder for the team to sustain themselves through Genocide Mode's HP/SP gains from kills, especially early on.
    • Only gifts that will raise affection levels can be given to a character, making it merely a matter of finding the items they'd like rather than finding it among everything you've collected and risking a loss for giving them things they dislike.
    • Similarly no room decorations will cause an affection loss, and anything given is saved rather than being entirely replaced allowing you to mix and match the rooms more freely instead of needing a constant supply to make or undo any changes.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The combat-capable party size is increased from five to six, though Otsuu is mandatory.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Many of the stronger skills, generally anything above moderate damage tier and especially if capable of hitting multiple enemies, from the first game were given cast times that can be interrupted. Getting them off can be amazing, but it's generally just more efficient to turn to the weaker skills for reliable output. This does help to make the Genocide skills feel more powerful this time around, as they lack the restriction of cast times rather than just being cheaper versions of powerful skills.
    • Building Otsuu up in an offensively oriented way. Her double turns can allow her to make quick work of any random encounter, but the sheer amount of delay that puts toward her next turn means that during bosses other characters will get three or more turns each before hers has the chance to roll around again also cutting you off from Jack's blood for a considerable amount of time.
  • Back Stab: The new "Kagome Kagome" mechanic lets the player turn enemies away from them with single target attacks allowing everyone to follow up on it and subject them to this.
  • Book-Ends: The game ends with Little Mermaid's death at the hands of Red Riding Hood, as described in the prequel novel. After the credits end and one final scene, the first game is loaded and its OP plays.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • As mentioned above, weaker skills without cast times are this. Additionally basic attacks can be this if a character has gear focused on triggering the "Kagome Kagome" mechanic. They won't do much on their own, but reliably allowing everyone else to dramatically increase their damage can greatly speed things along. The act of turning back around also costs an action, functionally an entire turn for Mooks, potentially providing more room to use cast time skills and definitely decreasing the damage you take.
    • Stacking Agility and making Otsuu your "Kagome Kagome" character helps too. The double turns means better odds at getting something turned around, or being able to turn two things at once, while the lower delay from just using basic attacks keeps her turn count more in line with the others' so Jack can be put to use as necessary.
  • Call-Back: The eradication of the Dawn Expedition in the backstory starts with Mother being impaled by the Jail core. In this game, the first Blood Maiden to die is impaled by the upper Tower Nightmare.
    • There is a scene in the first game where the Professor shows off some results of his testing on the small Jail core sample. It was averse to Jack's blood but a small amount of Alice's was enough for the fragment to start using her voice. The first game did further explore this, but once again complete cores are shown to be fully capable of recreating people, this time Cinderella, Alice, and Jack specifically, but one is destroyed in the process of creating a copy of Jack.
  • Canon Character All Along:
    • To get the True Ending, the player has to prove that the Mysterious Nightmare is the Alice from the start of the game, who is promptly rechristened Nightmare Alice.
    • Otsuu is the Bonus Boss from the first game given the form of a Blood Maiden.
  • Censored Child Death: The deaths of the younger Blood Maidens, including Cinderella and Rapunzel, happen off-screen. On the other hand, this trope is Defied by the inclusion of 5-year-old Little Mermaid's death, which uses the exact same CG as the first game's prequel novel.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A mic used by Little Mermaid makes it into the first Mary Skelter timeline and ends up restoring Jack's memory of the second game.
    • The random character specific gifts that Jack can find also show up again in the remake, seeming to be a bunch of Joke Items used to grant Jack some Scratch Damage, but are vital in restoring Otsuu's memories of the previous timeline.
  • Darker and Edgier: If you thought the situation in the first game was bleak, the first chapter of this one ends with Jack as a Nightmare, Alice and Red Riding Hood missing in action, the Reasonable Authority Figures from the first game being killed off, and the team having to set up a base underground. Multiple members of the original team fall into Blood Skelter and must be hunted down to save them, and events both prior to and during the game have left several characters with considerably lower mental stability regarding Marchen, Nightmares, and each other.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: The last we see of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Thumbelina is a shot of their limp hands, accompanied by their final words.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Like the first game, opening theme "Witchcraft - Theophile no Kiseki" is performed by Thumbelina's, Snow White's, and Sleeping Beauty's voice actresses.
  • Downer Ending: The True Ending. Every playable character from the first game is killed, and Otsuu and Little Mermaid reset the timeline, which the game confirms by showing Little Mermaid's death. The only ray of hope is that we know that the first game holds the possibility of a happy ending.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: The Jail, of all things, is guilty of this; it completely misinterprets the desire of Alice to revive Jack, instead focusing on her desire to erase the world without him and creates the Omnicidal Maniac Mysterious Nightmare.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Early in the game, the Dawn is sacked by the Mysterious Nightmare. By the time the party arrives, Haru and Miko have already been brutally murdered, and Towa lasts just long enough for his death to be witnessed by the party. Tohjima's body is nowhere to be found.
  • Dub Name Change: Somewhat with Tsuu being changed to Otsuu for the English release, the latter originally just being most of the cast's respect for her.
  • Dwindling Party: After Nightmare Love is defeated, Alice and Jack are abruptly killed by the upper Tower Nightmare. The team throws themselves at the Nightmare in bunches (Thumbelina and her sisters, then Red Riding Hood and Kaguya with Cinderella and Rapunzel joining in, and finally Gretel and Hameln) in a last-ditch effort to slow it down, but to no avail. The only ones left standing are Otsuu and Little Mermaid.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Liberated District in this game is housed in the subway where Hameln used to live. The original is wrecked by the Mysterious Nightmare.
  • Embedded Precursor: The game comes with an enhanced remake of the first Mary Skelter.
  • Extra Turn: Otsuu and Nightmare Jack share a party slot, and the duo gets two actions to share between each other when their turn comes up.
  • Fairy Tale: Mary Skelter 2 adds Japanese tale "Tsuru no Ongaeshi" (roughly translated as Crane's Return of a Favor), and uses The Little Mermaid in a much greater capacity than the first game.
  • For Want of a Nail: The game's setting and premise is fairly similar to the original, with a few tweaks: Little Mermaid is alive, sisters Thumbelina, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty are part of the Order of the Sun, and Hameln appears to be a regular part of the squad as opposed to a Secret Character. The Jail tower is white instead of black, as are the Dawn's uniforms. The game still starts off with Jack and Alice being rescued, except with Little Mermaid and Otsuu accompanying Red Riding Hood. The game turns to be an alternate timeline caused by Otsuu using a seed belonging to a separate Jail to Time Travel and prevent Red Riding Hood from killing Little Mermaid. While she is saved, it removes the discovery of Blood Skelter from the timeline which completely derails the events of the first game.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The game's opening, while being abstract enough to mostly avoid Spoiler Opening, is loaded with hints regarding the game's major twists. This includes clocks moving backwards, a butterfly resting in Otsuu's hair before she casts a Nightmare-like shadow, a sketch featuring the Mysterious Nightmare subtitled "White Rabbit", Alice being surrounded by a dark silhouette right before the second half of the character roll call, and Little Mermaid disintegrating into foam.
    • The first chapter of the Mary Skelter 2 prequel novel flat-out states that the game is a story about a princess who should have died and a prince who was robbed of their future.
    • The game's adherence to Fairy Tale Motifs almost immediately gives away that Otsuu was born as something other than a Blood Maiden. Said character's connection to Nightmare Jack only adds to this.
    • One sidequest when first entering the Jail Tower has the Marchen you just fought turn out to be Not Quite Dead, attempting an ambush that's stopped by Jack and Hameln. Things do not go quite so well when the Tower Nightmare pulls a similar trick in the True Ending, staying hidden until the Blood Team has worn themselves out against the Mysterious Nightmare. Jack is the second one to die, being linked to the now destroyed core, leading most of the team to end up hanging back to buy time for others as they feel their limit for Blood Skelter coming. Hameln is the last to die, protecting Otsuu and Little Mermaid who had been rendered unconscious by Gretel's "treatment" for Blood Skelter.
  • Flashback: Each of the first few chapters are preceded by scenes following the perspective of what appears to be a Nightmare. It is pursued by none other than the Blood Team with their designs from the first game. Those who have watched every scene from the first game will likely pick up fairly quickly that this is an expanded Perspective Flip of the first game's Another Story.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Mamoru and Hansel are playable in a battle against the Mysterious Nightmare.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the True Ending, most of the Blood Team is slaughtered by the upper Tower Nightmare to allow Otsuu and Little Mermaid time to escape. Little Mermaid returns the favor by agreeing to undo Otsuu's wish, even with the knowledge that she will be killed by Red Riding Hood.
  • High School A.U.: This is the setting of Love Prison Tower Mary Skelter, a Visual Novel preorder bonus to Mary Skelter 2.
  • Kill 'Em All: Chiaki dies before the game even starts, the Dawn leadership is killed off by the Mysterious Nightmare, and the Blood Team save for Otsuu and Little Mermaid die fighting the upper Tower Nightmare. That means that, immediately prior to the Reset Button Ending, the only named characters from the first game that are still alive are Michiru, Clara, Mamoru, and Hikari. (Amusingly enough for the latter two; in the original timeline, they died and were resurrected.)
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Players who have never played the Vita and/or Steam versions of Mary Skelter: Nightmares will be forced to choose between spoiling the first game's bonus ending and the sequel's True Ending. For what it's worth, the developers highly recommend that newcomers play the sequel first, to the point where players have to download a (free) unlock key to play the remake before finishing the sequel.
  • Light Is Not Good: This game inverts the Evil Is Not Well-Lit Nightmare warning from the first game, with a white haze becoming the calling card of a Nightmare.
  • Lighter and Softer: While still notably darker than most Compile Heart works, see Darker and Edgier above, Mary Skelter 2 scales things back in comparison to Death end re;Quest by applying the darker events at key points instead of being an unrelenting series of The Many Deaths of You.
  • Love Hurts: It doesn't go well for either Official Couple. Jack and Alice die not once but twice (one version of Alice being the Big Bad entirely because of Jack's perceived death at the start of the game), and Otsuu and Little Mermaid press the Reset Button leading to Mermaid's original death at the hands of Red Riding Hood.
  • Meta Twist:
    • The characters are gained in roughly the opposite order as they are gained in the first game.
    • The post-game of the remake takes place after the Reset Button Ending of 2, implying that the remake is actually a sequel canonically.
  • Multiple Endings: There are two:
    • The True Ending, which at the very least requires the player to deduce the identity of the Mysterious Nightmare, is a Reset Button Ending; after defeating Nightmare Love, the upper Tower Nightmare appears and start killing off the Blood Maidens while Otsuu and Little Mermaid escape to the Jail egg. They use the egg to undo Otsuu's actions and return things to how they were in the first game...resulting in Mermaid's Death by Origin Story before the closing credits.
    • The Bad Ending has the player defeating the Mysterious Nightmare, with it fleeing before the killing blow can be dealt. Nightmare Jack leaves the Blood Team, who are too exhausted to give chase, to try to finish the fight. Shortly after he leaves the Jail Tower begins to collapse, forcing a need to retreat. At the base of the tower ruins the Blood Team meets up with Clara and Michiru, who confirm everyone is still alive, and Otsuu reassures Alice that Jack is fine as she can still sense him. They agree to regroup, find Jack, and look for a new way out. And then you're booted straight back to the title screen.
  • Necessary Fail:
    • The game makes an effective argument for Little Mermaid's accidental murder in the original timeline, as tragic as it is, being an overall good. Fittingly, the true ending re-inserts this event into the timeline.
    • Also, as tragic as it is, this game's events in general are necessary for Otsuu and Little Mermaid to live Happily Ever After.
  • Post-End Game Content: Surprisingly averted; this game has no post-game content whatsoever. To compensate, the remake's post game has been expanded, and allows players who already finished the original version of that game to skip over the vast majority of its main plot.
  • The Power of Love:
    • A twisted variant, in which Nightmare Jack and Nightmare Alice fuse to become Nightmare Love.
    • When faced with choosing between normal Alice and Nightmare Alice, a humanoid version of Jack materializes from his Nightmare variant so that he can continue to protect Blood Maiden Alice. It conveniently retains a character with Nightmare Jack's role for the final battle.
  • Psychic Link: Otsuu and Nightmare Jack are mentally linked. This helps keep Jack mentally stable but, should Jack give into his impulses and become Jack Ripper, also puts Otsuu in danger of being dragged into Blood Skelter with him.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: In the prequel novel, Thumbelina and her sisters leave the Dawn and take up positions within the Order of the Sun due to Chiaki's death, after he unintentionally sent Cinderella's despair into overdrive during an interrogation and triggered Blood Skelter. Part of the reason why this happened is because the presence of Otsuu and Little Mermaid along with the first game's Blood Maidens make Cinderella feel unnecessary.
  • Sequel Escalation:
    • The type of gore that was exclusive to the first game's prequel novels finds its way into the actual game here.
    • The Jail is used to pull of a feat more impressive than any in the first game: changing the past.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The Alice that joins the team later in the game is a mimic of the Alice from the start of the game. The player has to prove this by pointing out Alice's Hair Decoration, which Jack pulled off during the attempted escape at the start of the game yet somehow is being worn by Alice when the Blood Team returns for her.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The final boss theme is a more climactic version of the first game's initial random encounter music.
    • Dark Reprise: It could alternatively be looked at this way as the boss is the original Alice and Jack, now Nightmares, aiming to destroy the Nightmare that did this to them and their Marchen mimics aiding her. You are the random encounter.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The first game is mostly standalone, with the Sequel Hook being prefaced as a story that may or may not have happened. The second game ends with the Reset Button being pressed, leading to the first game again, though now with the possibility of saving both the original Blood Team and the sequel's two Blood Maidens.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Dawn HQ being set ablaze at the end of the first chapter.
    • The CG depicting Alice getting Impaled with Extreme Prejudice lets the players know that things are about to hit rock bottom.
  • Yuri Genre: The game has a lesbian Official Couple with Otsuu and Little Mermaid, as well as fanservicey shots involving multiple girls. However, the developers saw fit to change the Relationship Values marker from hearts to stars for everyone except Little Mermaid, suggesting that none of the other girls are interested in being anything more than platonic with Otsuu.
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