Switch version tested
Review code provided
No single task sounds easier than defeating three mythical monsters and garnering all the fame that comes with it. However, much like anything that says Rogue-Like, this setup ensures countless defeats and just as many “just one more run” moments. Monster Slayers hits the Nintendo Switch as a Rogue-Like deck building RPG with a surprising amount of depth and just enough charm to make it stand out in a field that is seeing a surge of similarly styled games.
From the start, players are tasked with creating a character from one of the varying classes like a knight, cleric, rogue, but also adds in character classes like the merchant and even the dragon. There is a decent amount of depth here, allowing the player to create a unique avatar even with custom voice sounds. Unfortunately, the first issue with Monster Slayers rears its ugly head. The UI is not good. The text is extremely small reminding me of the launch issues with the original Dead Rising at the advent of the HD era. In handheld, this is very apparent which adds to the chaos with an already clunky interface. When selecting your loadout, the boxes are entirely too small and only highlighted by a slight outline when selected. The omission of a touch interface here feels like a missed opportunity as it could have really streamlined play. What is here once you enter one of the dungeons plays just fine. Inputs are handled with the ‘A’ button or a double tap of ‘B’ to discard an unwanted card. Gameplay is as fast and fluid as one could expect from a strategy deck building game. Once you’ve become familiar with the cards and their effect you will be blasting through the early battles. As you progress the character not only levels up gaining in both AP and MP (Action and Mana) but HP and hand size so more cards can be played per turn. In addition, as the quests are undertaken and monsters are slain, a separate fame level is raised. This allows the player to unlock a permanent passive effect that aids in the journey for future runs. At the beginning of each run and after each completed quest you are allowed to gain a companion who has skill to aid you along the way. They can be upgraded through the fame progression and become a powerful ally that can turn the tide of battle.
Visually, Monster Slayers is a brightly coloured cartoonish take on the genre, with a style similar to that seen South Park. Minimalistic animations, while charming, begin to show their limitations in battle. Each character has a single attack animation. This even extends to the magic attacks where a fire spell and ice spell look the same. The only difference can be seen when the spell strikes the enemy as a different colour pops up along with the damage and coinciding effect. The enemies suffer the same fate. While some have an added power attack animation, they repeat the same lunge and swipe attack as the player even while having their own unique cards and spells for attacks. The dungeon itself is represented by a grid. Here again we have a small interface that feels clunky as you move around the randomly generated blocks to select your next interaction, whether it be a battle a treasure chest or even ally encounter. The addition of a campsite allows players to rest up but also engage in a quick game of chance. Here you can win HP, MP or even items, however if pushed too far you win nothing. This could have been very engaging but is handled like the rest of the game and is ultimately just based on luck.
The story or lack thereof is delivered through text before undertaking the initial quest. Each character class has their own motivations but all require besting 3 legendary monsters and returning home for all the glory. Initially, I was excited as I thought the game was going to be fully voice acted but this was not to be. At the onset in the character creation, you are able to select a voice for your character but this is limited to taunts, celebrations and the grunts of battle. The music while fitting is more of an afterthought here. It sits harmlessly in the background. Often times I found myself waiting for it to swell as the battle ebbed and flowed but alas it was not up to the task.
These quibbles aside what we have is a very competent, deep and enjoyable experience. Monster Slayers continues to pull me back into its dungeons as I quest to become the greatest hero ever. Fun, tactical and rewarding Monster Slayers is a deck building RPG that shouldn’t go overlooked in a field growing quickly with competition.
TBG Score: 7.5/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 05/04/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, RPG
Developer: Nerdook Productions
Download link: eShop