Title: Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten
Release Date: September 5, 2023
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: NIS America
Genre: Turn-Based JRPG
Last year Fall, publisher Shiravune released the PC version of the Aquaplus-developed turn-based RPG Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten. Now, this Utawareruomno series prequel will greet Western PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 users from publisher NIS America.
Seeing as we reviewed the initial PC version of the game, which was riddled with several technical issues at launch, I was pretty excited to play the PS5 release for a hopefully more polished experience.
Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten follows the eventual legend Oshtor, who resides in the quiet village of Ennakamuy. He’s a reliable older brother to his sister, Nekone. However, during one seemingly ordinary day doing everyday tasks, he encounters a peculiar girl, Shunya, who claims to be the daughter of Oshtor’s father.
Unfortunately, their parting was fraught with danger. Believing him to have been dead since his youth, Oshtor doubts the authenticity of her reveal. Yet, he eventually caves, initiating a journey where they try to reach Shunya’s home of Arva Shulan.
For a deeper dive into the gameplay systems and story of Monochrome Mobius, check out our review of the PC version because those elements are obviously the same. Summatively speaking, the title is a highly traditional turn-based JRPG, vastly differing from the other entries in the series, which were visual novels with the occasional tactical battle.
Those with even a passing familiarity with turn-based games will quickly get the gist of what to do, with the central unique element being the Action Ring depicting the incoming arrivals of ally and enemy actions.
This overt turn transparency gives Monochrome Mobius the necessary distinction to set itself apart from its contemporaries. You can actively hinder enemies by throwing them back in the furthest action ring so their turn takes longer. Plus, gems with various boons will appear at specific spots on the rings, giving further incentive to pay attention to where you reside.
Achieving higher levels allows players to invest points in character stats. Since everyone has easily detectable specialties, this partially feels like an illusion of genuine, meaningful choice. Still, you can deviate from what’s expected if you like. As you can gather, it’s a fun battle system, yet you won’t have to think too much unless you’re facing bosses on Hard mode.
You’ll also spend the bulk of your playtime traversing vast maps and completing sidequests, with the former unfortunately comprised of common emptiness. Thankfully, you have a pretty generous dash function that lasts for a good long while and rids any frustration that would otherwise be present in several expanses.
You’ll hit the general gameplay loop quickly, and it’ll become abundantly evident that this title’s pacing and exploration are akin to a PlayStation 2-era title, which is by no means a bad thing. There’s just a simplicity to it all that reminds me of low-budget JRPGs from that time, especially given the presentation.
As for the story, while it can be enjoyed standalone partially due to it occurring in the past, established fans will get more out of it because of alluded connective tissue with certain characters and plot threads. Oshtor, for example, is a major character in later entries, so knowing future events will make particular sequences here more compelling.
Then again, not knowing who anyone is and going in completely blind may offer a unique perspective on the world, making you unconsciously craft on-the-fly conclusions and impressions that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Ultimately, it’s up to you. This isn’t a Kingdom Hearts or Trails type of situation where you absolutely need to know each prior title. You can get by fine in Monochrome Mobius if you’re a newcomer.
Going any further down that road of points would just be needlessly retreading our previous review, so I’ll refrain. As for my thoughts regarding the PlayStation 5 release specifically, I had a noticeably more enjoyable time with it than the PC version.
For one, the performance boasts a far smoother framerate that stays consistent throughout the story. I distinctly recall the PC launch suffering from frequent drops in specific locales. The presentation also appears enhanced, the most noticeable being NPCs with facial features.
For those unaware, the PC version was released with NPCs having blank faces, and it admittedly worsened the tone in various instances. I’m aware this was fixed in a post-release patch, yet the PlayStation 5 version having this in its default state is undeniably significantly better.
The translation seemed less awkward, too, though I don’t have the scripts side by side to compare. At the very least, you won’t have to worry about not understanding something because of a poor translation job.
It’s worth emphasizing that I only played Monochrome Mobius on PC before it got multiple updates for optimization, so I don’t have firsthand experience with those changes. Still, the base PlayStation 5 release having these fixes brings it up a bit.
Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is mostly the same on PlayStation 5 as on PC, except in a better launch state. If you’ve already played the game on PC, you have practically no reason to get this version unless you’re a diehard fan. On the other hand, newcomers to this entry don’t have anything significant to worry about.
Once again, check out our review of the PC release for more in-depth comments, as the verdict here won’t be much higher; it’s the same game at the end of the day. While Monochrome Mobius tells a captivating narrative with an endearing cast, the poor story pacing and lack of engagement with the combat, despite its neat ideas, make the experience one that can overstay its welcome. Fans will undoubtedly have their fill here, though.
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