Exploring a colourful world and collecting similarly colourful monsters is a pass time most of this section’s readers are familiar with, I’m sure. But I doubt you’ve ever done it like this. In Moi Rai Games’ ‘Monster Sanctuary’, the RPG subgenre of monster collecting is combined with classic platform exploration akin to Metroid.
The game opens with the hero– a Monster Keeper in the land of Monster Sanctuary– picking a familiar monster, which will talk to you throughout the story. This will be your first monster, and in my experience of the game, one of your best. The eagle is strong, being adaptable to any battle.
You are then treated to a tutorial, showing the controls on how to explore – running and jumping, alongside the various abilities the monsters will grant you that allow you to reach new areas – and the turn-based combat system, which has a focus on combos and synergy. ‘Monster Sanctuary’ is a game of experimentation, allowing far more synergy between individual monsters than a game like Pokémon. You use three monsters in a battle and have over 70 to choose from now – there are also light and dark-shifted variants that add another layer of strategy – resulting in hundreds of combinations. Every monster also has extensive skill trees, requiring the player to plan based on their other monsters’ capabilities. These skill trees can be reset, allowing for experimentation, and the monsters can be given equipment and food to further fine tune their stats.
As ‘Monster Sanctuary’ is an early access title, it is still a way from being complete, with a target release in late 2020, and a Switch port coming soon after. In its current state, the game is thoroughly enjoyable, with roughly 20 hours of content, although I’d like for the platforming elements to receive more of a focus in later updates. Sections of platforming often reward you with little – just a new weapon that changes your stats in a slightly different manner. The game is rather easy as well, with most bosses only requiring a few adjustments. Although, beating the bosses isn’t the challenge I’d say – the game has a system that gives you better rewards based on the efficiency with which you kill each boss, with the ultimate reward of adding them to your party. I had to customize my team a lot for this, although the eagle, slime and monk proved versatile enough for most of them.
Moi Rai Games have done a great job so far, responding well to feedback from their fanbase. Online PVP was recently added, which I have yet to partake in, although I imagine optimising your team (three in battle and three in reserve for Keeper battles), to face the unexpected would be incredibly satisfying. I’m excited for the future of this title, and whilst more of the same would be welcomed, I think Moi Rai Games could capitalise on the game’s unique nature, becoming something so niche that it transcends the indie label.