Game Review #238: Monster Slayers (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Bradford “TheWaffinator87” E.
Developer: Nerdook Productions
Category: Role-Playing, Adventure
Release Date: 4.5.2019
Price (at time of review): $14.99
Buy Monster Slayers from the eShop here.
It Wasn’t Always True Love
You ever enjoy something so much that it’s hard to find the exact words to say? You sit and think yet nothing comes out? That is where I am with Monster Slayers. Monster Slayers, from Nerdook Productions and Digerati, has me so mesmerized that I am having a mental block on the perfect words to use to best describe this game. I simply can’t get enough.
You may think you have heard all the love stories, but I am here to tell you otherwise. Now, my love for Monster Slayers wasn’t love at first sight. It wasn’t always a happy love story. No sir, this is about a journey that led to love. This is a story about Monster Slayers and me.
Monster Slayers is a roguelike, deck building, RPG Adventure game where you create heroes—a.k.a. “Monster Slayers”—and then fight through dungeons and stages killing all kinds of monsters to get to the "Legendary Monsters" (Bosses). You do all this in hopes of earning your shot at being called a “Monster Slayer” and joining the Monster Slayer Guild. This one game pretty much covers a lot of very popular game genres—and the majority of the types of games I play—so, how could it not be love at first sight? Well, I’m glad you asked...
Sink or Swim
Whenever you hear the phrase “sink or swim” you know that you are about to come up to some kind of challenge. You have been shown how to swim, now it’s your chance to show what you got. Will you sink or will you swim? The tutorial of the game covers just enough to tell you how to play, and then lets you go off into the monster-filled world. I feel like newbies to card games/deck building games will have their arses handed to them, therefore sinking right away. But even with a decent card/deck-building game background (Clash Royale, Yu-Gi-Oh, MTG, Hearthstone, and a few more) you will end up sinking. I do feel myself getting better with every passing run, but in the end, I’m the one that keeps getting defeated.
So Much to Choose, What to Choose?
In Monster Slayers, the gameplay feels a lot like other fun roguelike games I’ve played, like The Binding of Isaac, Iron Crypticle, and Darkest Dungeon. It’s one of those games where, every time you play, you can earn accessories that will carry over when you die to make your next round a little easier. Also, every time you play you earn Fame, which, in turn, helps you rank up. Every time you rank up you get a Skill Point, which you can use to buy skills, which also helps make the next round a little easier.
Every time you start a new run you get to choose a new character. I have played as most of them. There are up to 12 different class types to choose from. I have 8 classes unlocked, and I’ve tried out 6 out of the 8. My favorite—which I seem to do the best as—is the Ranger.
Even though there aren’t too many character customization options, it really doesn’t matter. You won’t live long enough to get too attached to your character anyway. In fact, when you are picking your character and setting them up, it will tell you that it doesn’t matter anyway, since that they won’t live long. As you complete runs it will get easier, though, as long as you can grasp the basics. Every time you play the levels are randomized, so don’t try to memorize the layouts, just get better at deck editing.
Decks are different based off the hero (character) you choose, but they all start with 12 cards. You will have the opportunity to add and remove cards and make the deck more to your pleasing. You even get to upgrade the cards as well. So, say you have a level 1 Attack card that does 3DMG (damage) you will be able to upgrade it to a higher level and now it will do 7DMG, and then even 10DMG. You will start off with a Hand Size (how many cards you can hold/start with) of 3 but once you reach level 5 your Hand Size increases to 4. I don’t know what the next hand size increase level is because the highest I have made it is level 7. My guess would be level 10, but that is all in theory.
Let’s slay some monsters!
Each level has a nice theme to it where there is always something different to encounter. In each stage there are a bunch of rooms, and the map won’t display what is in certain rooms until you have completed the adjacent room to unlock what lies ahead.
Each room will contain all kinds of encounters, like:
Monsters - All kinds like zombies, wraiths, griffins, lions, skeletons, and more. Most important are the Legendary Monsters (Bosses of each stage) that you must slay!
Healers - Restores HP/Delete a card
Merchants - View Wares (Items, restock items, heal 25HP (good if no healers available), buy cards/ Delete or Upgrade a card
Captains - like Guard Captain who can increase Starting AP/ or upgrade cards
Warriors - Give you XP boost or buy a LvL5 card (Usually good additions to your deck, that’s what I go with).
And so many more to encounter!
You’re Not Alone
Every time you start a new run or can manage to complete a stage/level, you will have the opportunity to add a companion to your party. Each companion has their own ability that adds a little spice to your battles. I usually go with a companion that allows you to draw a card and get extra AP. In this game, getting the draw advantage and having enough AP or MANA to cast them is everything. I usually stay away from the one that can add gold to your total.
Each companion has a cool-down time after using their ability. It is usually about two battles, unless you sold their cool-down time to the Altar. What I mean by that is, when you come across an Altar you will get a buff in one area, but then will have a decrease somewhere else. Example: Gain 1 HP for every card you play, but your company cool-down will increase by 2. As much as that is tempting, to be honest, having a quicker cool-down for your companion is far better than 1 HP for all cards you play—especially when you are in a boss battle, when you will want your companions’ help!
The controls are super easy to grasp, which is good, because it balances out with the difficulty of the game. If you are already getting frustrated from the difficulty, you wouldn’t want the controls to add to the frustration party. The only controls you need to get yourself familiar with are the left thumbstick for navigation, the A button for confirmation, and the B Button for discarding cards and cancellation. The only things you need to get familiar with are the cards and building a deck that you can play competitively, yet still find to be easiest for you.
This is partially what kept me intrigued enough to keep giving Monster Slayers another shot. It has the same cartoon-like vibe and feel as other amazing games I have been privileged to play thus far. It was more like watching a story, which makes sense, since it has the RPG elements. In fact, I am still playing as I write my feelings about it, and I never do that. I don’t want to ever alter my feelings once I have gotten a final thought, but this game keeps drawing me in.
If you have played many RPG games, you notice a common set up: you have HP (hit points/health), AP (attack points, which are your allowance of what you can string together in a turn), and MANA (your allowance for what you can cast on magic spells). You will also notice another common theme: a story. Whereas most stories take commitment, this story, well… doesn’t. This makes it great for quick pick-ups or longer gaming sessions, which is exactly where I find myself with this game. I find myself picking it up for a minute or two at a time or even an hour at a time, and I enjoy it the same either way.
My takeaway and my recommendation for this game is not to give up. It takes a few runs to find your niche, but once you do you will find it more enjoyable and easier to grasp. Once you learn to cut cards you don’t need, level up the right cards, find that perfect balance of a deck, and add the right companions to have by your side, then maybe you can be the next MONSTER SLAYER!
Buy Monster Slayers from the eShop here.
Follow Nerdook Productions
*Review Code Provided by Digerati