A Perfect Pocket Monster Platforming RPG
Monster Sanctuary takes inspiration from many different Genre of games and I was instantly surprised at how these popular elements combine into one game that is simple, fun and rewarding.
As a Monster Keeper, you must embark on a quest to save the Monster Sanctuary, as you begin you get to choose one of four Monsters which will be your guide throughout the game as well as a member of your Monster Team. You will soon become familiar with certain elements of gameplay and if you are not then the guide is more than happy to help. As you begin you will notice straight away that the style of the game is reminiscent of a 16 bit game from the Super Nintendo era but obviously touched up nicely for newer consoles. It has that Terraria and Stardew Valley style of graphics which is real eye candy for that old school feel. First off is the turn-based battles that take place where you initiate combat with enemy Monsters. As a team of three in total, you can take it in turns to deplete the enemy teams health through turn-based combat. The exploration is different from what you would expect for a game with turn-based combat elements. This is a platformer and not just a regular platformer either. The exploration is of a Metroidvania style has many winding paths that are just waiting to be explored. As someone who is not a fan of Metroidvania style of exploration in platform games, I am always pleasantly surprised and find it super enjoyable when it is implemented in a role-playing style game.
The platforming of Monster Sanctuary is some of the most responsive and fun I have experienced in a while and what really makes it a fun experience is the different ways that your own Monsters can help with it. For example, flying Monsters will give you an extra boost to your Jump, as you obtain different Monsters you will see they have certain field abilities which help with exploration and finding secret areas, and some of those harder to reach areas that were previously inaccessible are now no longer. Other Monsters can create blocks needed for some switches. There are a few abilities so if something looks obvious to activate under a certain condition then it more than likely is. Chests are plentiful and can be found hidden away and contain loot helpful in your adventure. The world itself is quite vast and there is plenty of exploration and a variety of different biomes from Caves to a desert and an Abandoned Tower, the variety of enemy Monsters that inhabits each area is not overwhelming and the characteristics of each Monster matches the habitat that they live in. The character and Monster designs are simple yet effective and all have their own characteristics, even when your monsters take a hit they will show emotion that they are. There is plenty of variety of end game content that you can go back and finish should you wish to go back and catch them all.
Battles consist of taking it in turns dealing damage with your Monsters versus the enemy Monsters. For each attack you do you build a combo meter which rises, more powerful attacks are suited until the end of the battle to increase your combo meter significantly. A higher meter allows for better rewards and a chance for rarer loot after battle. The loot can range from Monsters eggs which you can hatch instantly and add to your roster to new pieces of gear to enhance your Monsters stats, you can gain healing items also but this is something I never found myself using because of how the game fully heals your team after each battle, you may use these healing items once or twice during some battles if a powerful foe happens to catch you off guard but for the most part, they don’t really have any use. The best items you can get are the items to upgrade your already existing equipment via the blacksmith. It’s also worth noting that there is another use for Monsters as any you already have can be donated and you can acquire some new items by doing this. Some Monsters have healing abilities which are usually more useful than healing items and because each Monster comes with a set of upgradeable perks in a Talent Tree Style Interface these are easily upgraded. Each monster feels unique while some do share moves, there is a good variety. Monsters skills consist of either elemental types or physical attacks and all Monsters have their weaknesses depicted by an upwards arrow. The game depicts how much health the enemy will have after using a certain attack which is helpful in knowing the best move to use and this varies as sometimes a Critical Hit can happen which is always nice.
I would say much of the challenge in Monster Sanctuary comes later on in the game where normal battles can range between 3 to 5 minutes, while the battles may seem challenging I think they came off more than an annoyance because of how long you end up spending in them and it is easy to get distracted when you are focused on winning only to find yourself almost overwhelmed by the enemy team, this is really the only thing I can say about Monster Sanctuary that was a minor annoyance was some normal battles got tedious later on as you are chipping away at their health with the same moves that you are using until this point, sure there is some variety but there is no reason why you can’t avoid them altogether and it’s nothing a swift jump over them can’t fix unless your in the caverns with a low ceiling that is. If you really do have to end up fighting a large number of enemies, I would suggest using moves that Poison or break your enemies defences. This will ensure they are dispatched much faster especially as some enemies have a habit of self-healing and even putting up a Barrier which then causes them to take more damage than normal.
In all, I have enjoyed my time in Monster Sanctuary and anyone with a keen interest of Monster Catching and 16-bit style of games, you can’t really go wrong with Monster Sanctuary.
A PlayStation 4 Code was provided by Team17