Standing Out in an Ocean of Rogue-likes
Monster Slayers is a fast-paced game that can steal hours of your life away. I have lots of social obligations on the weekends, but somehow I still sunk 8 hours into it between Saturday night and Sunday morning. This is a game that deals with deck building, turn based combat, gear and skill selection, rogue-like elements and a leveling system. It mingles all of these together into a game that just seems complex enough.
While it could take a fair amount of time to unlock all the in-game awards and Steam achievements, after my 8 hours I had beaten the ‘end boss’ three times – each time with a different character. It is a meat grinder, for sure. You start off very weak and struggle to fight the first dungeon monsters. Each death feeds the power and resources of your next would-be Monster Slayer. When you finally defeat the Harbinger, your current character runs off to join the elites of the monster hunting world, taking whatever gear and gold he had with them (the cheeky jerk).
Layout for Success.
The game is laid out pretty straight forward. There are no frills or extraneous menus, and you can get all the information you need to prepare for your next adventure just with the click of a button. That said, if you are like me and inclined to play these games at a rapid pace when you get the hang of them, you may find yourself accidentally discarding cards and even skipping your own turn. This can be a deadly mistake when fighting any mob.
Mechanically, Monster Slayers is pretty basic. You adventure, get gear and new cards, level up, and grow stronger. As your progress through the three dungeons you can add and remove cards from your deck, tinker with your gear load-out, take your chances camping, meet companions who grant special abilities, and experience a few other events. The fights are hard enough to make you feel good for preparing, and the card strategy is complex enough to reward you for paying attention and coming up with combos. The gear system is not annoying and the RNG creates some fun loot for you to collect.
Cartoon Violence, Sounds of Adventure, and Mood Music.
Honestly, one of the big highlights of this game was the music. I would happily grab those audio tracks and play them during my table top RPG sessions. Good music that your brain is okay with listening to over and over again can be key in any protracted battle, be it on the PC or at the real life table. The audio effects are also of good quality, and I was legitimately surprised at how many spoken words and varied voices there were in the game. Those differences helped make the game re-playable in quick succession.
Cartoony 2D drawings, observed from a side scrolling screen, illustrate the world and denizens of this world. The art is solid and fun to look at. Character creation allows for a variety of options, including skin tones, hair colours and styles, and varied voices. I was surprised at how many options the game allows you in building a unique look for your little mass murderer. The cute art may not appeal to everyone, but it scores some extra points with me for just how dynamic it is.
Lastly, the enemies. All the baddies have excellent design, many of them have thematic powers usable only by them – and it pays to learn how these abilities work. Getting a handle on what cards your enemies will be playing with allows for some really fun deck builds.
All Adventures End.
The basic concept and the game’s ability to deliver to fans of the fantasy rogue-like genre is strong. The core mechanics blend seamlessly together. That said, it is a amalgamation of several familiar ideas already done in other games, so there isn’t a much new to see here. Additionally, if you don’t like one aspect of it, there is a chance it could ruin the entire thing for you.
There is some replayability in this game. If you like rogue-likes this will be a must. However, after very little time invested, I feel like I have seen the vast majority of the content, and for me it will be a game I rarely revisit. Keeping that in mind the developer, Nerdook, is already asking the games community what additions they would like to see going forward. In the event they make good on this potential with occasional freebie content updates and a full expansion or two, I could see myself returning to this game time and time again.
Final Score: 8/10
Review by Old Man Mordaith
Edited by Jesse Roberts