Welcome Time Wasters!
I’m doing that thing again where I look at a game that isn’t actually out yet. Yeah, I know something more festive may have been in order, but this week’s game really caught my attention. That game is Monster Sanctuary.
I actually saw a trailer for Monster Sanctuary earlier this month. It was to promote the game’s Kickstarter, which is already done by the time this article goes up. What I didn’t know is that there was also a demo out to promote the Kickstarter. This isn’t just a little sneak peak at the game, either. It offers players a good couple of hours of gameplay and about 15 different monsters to play with. Honestly, it easily sold me on the game.
Monster Sanctuary isn’t just a game that fits into a single genre type. Instead, it blends several genres together in great success. The three gaming genres were talking about here are monster collecting, turn-based RPG and Metroidvania. Anyone who keeps up with my column knows that this is right up my alley. Let’s take a look at each of the different aspects of the game.
The monster collecting aspect of Monster Sanctuary is slightly different than what players are expecting. Rather than fighting a monster, beating it into submission and then capturing it, the player raises monsters from eggs. These eggs are rare drops that can come from monsters the player defeats. The idea here is that the monster is loyal to the person who raises it, rather than being submissive to a person that captures it. Players can keep up to six monsters at a time.
Now let’s move on to the turn-based RPG part of the game. I know that many monster collecting games already use a turn-based RPG system, but Monster Sanctuary doesn’t follow the same trend. Rather than a single monster doing battle with enemies, players can send out up to three monsters at a time. The game allows the player to choose what order the monsters go in and the enemies take their turns once the monsters finish their actions.
This is a great system as it lets the player make combos with the different attacks and abilities of their monsters. Higher combos result in greater effects, which in turn can result in finishing battles quicker. Players want to finish battles as quickly as possible for a higher rank. The higher a rank the player has at the end of a battle, the more likely they are to get a rare drop. This can be one of those monster eggs I was talking about earlier.
Another interesting thing to note about Monster Sanctuary is how it handles leveling up. Just like in any other RPG, monsters gain EXP until they reach the next level. When a monster levels up, it also obtains a skill point. Players can use these skill points to unlock new skills, passive buffs and other benefits for their monsters. This lets the player really plan out their party composition in a way that allows the monsters to greatly synergize with each other. There’s also other factors to take into account, such as elemental weaknesses and strengths, when forming teams.
With the monster collecting and turn-based RPG parts out the game out of the way, we can now talk about the Metroidvania influence. Monster Sanctuary features large areas for players to explore. However, all parts of these areas won’t be immediately accessible to the player. In some cases the player can gain new equipment that let’s them move forward, such as double jump boots. However, there are other times where they will need the help of their monster friends to progress.
Each monster has a special ability that it can use outside of battle. These abilities can cause a variety of effects. For example, some monsters can destroy weak walls with their attacks. There are also others that can fly the player a short distance, and those than can burn down vines obstructing a path. This weaves the monster collecting part of the game in with the Metroidvania gameplay in a way I’ve not seen done before. It adds an extra little benefit to collecting the monsters besides just battling them.
Moving on, the graphics in Monster Sanctuary are solid. The game looks a lot like Terraria, which features some simple, but effective sprite art. The monster designs are a bit hit or miss with me, but there isn’t a large pool to look through in the demo. What does look great is the combat. It all takes place on the field, rather than transporting the player to a separate battlefield. The effects from special attacks and abilities are also flashy and fun to watch, but don’t take too long to complete.
The audio in Monster Sanctuary is another sound element of the game (pun intended). The battle music is fitting and the rest of the audio seems to match up well with the visuals. If I’m being completely honest, I feel like there was a lack of truly memorable tunes in the game, but this is only a demo.
Overall, Monster Sanctuary is looking to be a great game. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the demo and am looking forward to its release. The developers are shooting for a late 2020 release. This includes PC and Switch versions. I’m confident enough to say that I’ll be picking up the Switch version when it comes out. I’ll also clarify that I’m not a Kickstarter backer. I’ve been burned in the past and don’t typically back projects like this anymore. Even when they are as great looking as this, or the upcoming Blasphemous game from our friends over at The Game Kitchen. Go give it a look if it seems interesting to you.
(Note: Demo, Early Access, Beta and other similar previews don’t get review scores.)