I had no idea what I was going to make of this game when I first saw it. Billed as interactive fiction, and categorised on the Nintendo eShop as belonging to the Simulation, Adventure and Puzzle Genres (all of which appeal to me), I hoped that this would be a fun little game. After all, it’s been around on other platforms since 2013, so it must be doing something right, mustn’t it?
Well, yes and no. This is a tough one for me to review, as it definitely feels like I am NOT the target audience for this type of game. It feels aimed at a younger audience, so I have done my best to approach it with that kind of mindset which has helped a little, though it is still far from perfect.
Let’s start at the beginning. What do you do in Monster Loves You?
You make choices.
And I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but the game does a fair job of making it more exciting than my description. You start as a baby monster and then grow up through the stages of monster life, eventually either dying or ascending to become an elder. And to do this, you have to make a lot of tough choices along the way.
I’ve made it almost two-hundred and fifty words into this review without describing the gameplay to you. And that’s because the one genre this game really belongs in is the visual novel genre. Your interactions consist entirely of choosing an adventure and then making choices about your actions within that adventure. These actions can then boost any of the six statistics that affect your life as a monster and how other monsters view you – Bravery, Cleverness, Ferocity, Honesty, Kindness and Respect.
The choices that you make regarding your own actions within these situations causes these stats to increase or decrease, which then can affect your chance is of success if you take a slightly riskier option as the game goes on. This does lend a tiny RPG-like element to this visual novel, which I very much appreciated, as it feels like there is at least a tiny amount of skill involved within this game.
But this isn’t a game in the way I think of games. It only takes 30-40 minutes to play through the story, and then when you reach the end, the only option you have is to play it again and make different choices, to see if you can reach more of the “dozen-or-so” promised endings.
I didn’t get that far. Because having played through a couple of times, I found that I was done with this game, and wanted to play something that had actual gameplay elements involved.
Now I know it sounds like I hated this game, and actually that’s not true. It’s got a lovely visual style, and the writing (which is by far the most important thing ever in a visual novel-style game) is funny, entertaining and kept me going throughout my playthroughs. I particularly enjoyed that it quite often has you cross paths with fairytales, and the last section where you are able to affect how monsters view humans and vice versa had the potential to be the most interesting section of the game. However, I wanted to spend more time in this world than I was allowed to on a single playthrough, and was hoping to interact with it in a more in-depth way as the game went on. But by the time I had finished my first playthrough I knew that was never going to happen, as that’s not what this game is designed to be.
As well as wanting the game to be more than it is, my other gripes are small but valid. The music is … well it’s not terrible by any means, but it’s short and repetitive and I spent a good chunk of the game with the volume turned down. The interface feels very random, with the icons giving you no indication of what it is you are going to do, and the whole thing feels as if it is set out like a mobile game (which I know this game has been, so I understand why). And lastly, the length of it just meant that it didn’t grip me at all – the lack of additional post-game content (in a traditional sense) meant that all I could do was play the bits I had already done again but give different answers, and see whether it changed the journey. And based on the two playthroughs I did, although I did get to see some new bits on the second go, it didn’t make me desperate to see other endings.
Kids may enjoy this, and I hope that they do, as the creators seem to have a talent for putting together a game, but this ended up as nothing more than a damp squib of a game for me.