Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Digerati Distribution's Monster Slayers Proves Fun Is Better Than Facade

Some games look amazing, but play poorly. Other games look somewhat primitive, but are tons of fun. I think the latter category is where "Monster Slayers" falls. It's not particularly the best looking indie, but it's rogue-like elements, and strategy RPG mechanics come together in such a manner as to make each playthrough just as fun as the first. Saying "Monster Slayers" is simply a rogue-like strategy RPG wouldn't do it justice though. It is a game inspired by a particular Hearthstone creator's work, and it has it's own unique card battle system in play along with several randomized elements.

The game, like many games in the genre features a cast of class based characters you can choose from, and visually/audibly customize for personality sake. Each class of characters whether it be the rogue, archer, knight, barbarian, dragon, merchant, or any of the remaining class options therein has an underlying class based perk or perks that change the way the player approaches battles in the game. The knight, for example, is a defensive character that can dabble in spells, and strong physical attacks. Others, of course, are a tilted balance of offense, defense, and a particular set of uniquely applied skills. While they all differ according to class they each can use their given AP (action points), HP (health points), MP (mana points), and card collection in the same manner to best the monstrous baddies that lie in wait in the equally rogue-like dungeon areas. Their action points along with their mana points will allow for the usage of color coded, and function varied cards (Attack, Defense, Support, Magic, Interrupt/Counter Spells). The cards, like just about everything else in the game, are initially randomized, and are offered in a class specific manner. Choosing the cards to play in the turn based combat sequences will weigh heavily on that characters' survival. Along the way they'll also pick up companions with helpful cool down focused skills of their own that can be utilized as well as gear/weapons, and additional cards or attribute boosts that can be equipped to better sustain them as they journey from dungeon to dungeon battling the lesser monsters, and even the monsters of legend.

Monster Slayers begins by allowing you to freely choose from one of several mostly traditional RPG character classes. Minus the dragon, and the merchant class. After you choose your class you'll be able to alter the character's appearance, voice, and gender through a decent selection of available options. From there you'll be taken to the main menu which houses the randomly accessible dungeon areas as well as a card, inventory, and mechanics explanation in their own designated menus. The gameplay itself isn't too hard to pick up on, and most of what you'll be doing is selecting monsters to fight via a squared off map while taking breaks between to visit merchants, altars, treasure chests, campfires, and other helpful individuals that will add to your assets and longevity in one way or another.

The card based combat in the game isn't as complicated as a game like "Magic the Gathering', or even as complex as Hearthstone, but it does borrow feature functionality from those types of games. Your cards which come in the attack, defense, support, magic, and interrupt variety are drawn from your collection, and used through the available AP and MP points. To add a twist to card combat you'll also find cards can be upgraded to become more powerful. Card upgrades come into play when you are able to access the merchants, altars, campfires, or other adventurers that appear on the dungeon tiles as you defeat increasingly more difficult monsters. The merchant will take your gold for healing, gear, and new cards. Some of which come in different rarities with different bonus perks tied to them. The altars, on the other hand, give both a blessing, and a curse. The blessing being that of attribute enhancement, and the curses things like cards that are of no use being added to your deck. The campfires are also a place of chance in that you draw cards with potential benefits, but at the risk of losing everything you've acquired if you draw a fish bone card. The more cards you draw the more you risk drawing a fish bone card. On top of the random battles, and random appearance of helpful opportunities you'll also find an upgrade, and medal tree that can be unlocked for even more perks. These character upgrades are made unlockable through dungeon battle completion, and the leveling up that takes place there. They cost points to unlock, and as you unlock them more upgrades will become available. Needless to say buffing up your character can be done in multiple ways including the cards you collect, the gear you equip, and the upgrades you unlock. Let us not forget the companions that grow in strength, and number the longer you survive as well.

Each dungeon along with it's name, and limited supply of occupied tile spaces offers the player limited opportunities to loot the place, gather gold for merchants, and grow stronger through experience based leveling. The monsters which appear as a previous one is defeated are increasingly stronger in level up to boss rank making the battle, and how you handle your given hand of cards increasingly more important. Each monster you defeat will reward you with experience points accordingly, and supposing you level up, lost HP will be automatically replenished without a need to visit a healing tile, a merchant, or a campfire. Supposing your character dies in one of their dungeon outings any previously bought, or collected gear/weapons will return to your inventory. While you don't necessarily have to choose the same character class again on your follow-up playthrough it is a good idea to stick with a character class you have gear for as it will make the playthroughs easier to play through. I should also note that the game keeps all upgrades, and medals unlocked even after a characters' death. The ultimate goal of the game is to survive long enough to defeat all of the legendary monsters, which are the bosses of each given dungeon.

Lastly the game, in life or death, rewards you with fame points. Fame points always carry over in the night and day cycles along with your end game stats that display such feats (or lack thereof) as your character deaths, and bosses defeated among other things. It's a tally of total time and effort invested. Perhaps for bragging rights. The game does cycle through night and day, and plays out as such in each dungeon as well as on the overview map. It's significance is a mystery as are the fame points. At least to me.

The Verdict ...

As I said earlier on in this review this is not a game that will impress everyone with it's art or animations. It's your basic indie presentation in those regards. That being said the randomized gameplay elements, the card based combat, and the way the game plays out makes the game fun, and addictive. It is a game with infinite replay value, and for the price I think it's very much worth buying. No one playthrough will ever be the same, and though it is offline only there is tons of fun to be had playing "Monster Slayers". Definitely add it to your game collection if you like rogue-like RPGs that are done right!

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