As Culter, a young boy with a touch of amnesia has a rare ability which allows him to communicate with monsters. On his adventure, our young hero comes across Aira, a shepherd who can also control monsters who will lend her hand in order to uncover the truth. Thanks to his special ability, Culter will be able to recruit a bevy of monsters to help him fight. Will you be able to help our young hero remember who he is?
Monster Viator is a traditional turn-based JRPG where you roam around from dungeon to dungeon; town to town, encountering a bevy of random battles. After each battle, characters earn XP which allows them to level up, increase their HP (Health Point) and SP (Special Point) meters. Unlike most JRPG however, after each battle, your party’s health and special meters are filled up; meaning you don’t have to worry about trying to survive from town to town. Additionally, non-party members also gain XP which ensures that some characters fall behind and encourages players to mix and match. It also avoids endless grinding.
Culter can recruit animals as party members; kind of like the Shin Megami Tensei and Pokémon series. Most companions are recruited automatically as you wander around and help certain of them or just coming across them. After a brief conversation where you’ll get to ask them to join, they’ll join you on your adventure. This allows for a bit of freedom when it comes to party members.
Human party members can be assigned to different jobs; different jobs means different skillset; another great way for players to mix and match in order to find a strategy that works well. Obviously, the game will keep players on their toes because based on enemy strengths/weaknesses, you might have to switch out party members from one boss battle to another. As with any RPG games, players can find treasures that can increase some job’s level as they are not jobs that can be upgraded. Jobs can be changed at Goddess statues found across various areas such as towns.
It wouldn’t be a proper RPG without your gear! Each character can equip a weapon, armor, and a ring. While the first two are pretty self-explanatory, the ring allows special buffs on the character such as increased HP or SP. In order to help players tougher battles, they can strengthen their equipment. This can be done at all times via the menu as long as you have enough coins. The stronger the item is, the more expensive the next level will be. Each piece of equipment will reach a max level where you won’t be able to upgrade them further and obviously you can’t rely on the same equipment throughout the game. The further you get, stronger gear is always to purchase in new towns.
Unfortunately, as much as the game is enjoyable, it’s not without its flaws. Oh my god, the loading. Loading occurs when entering and leaving caves, towns, etc. which is to be expected, but also every time you enter and finish a battle. While most of the time, later down the line, it becomes trivial, early on, your team members almost come across as overpowered meaning that both loading screens combined last longer than the battle.
Which brings me to the other problem: the game’s balancing. While most JRPGs require level grinding to keep up with the difficulty curve, Monster Viator will put players in a false state of safety. Early battles are insanely easy; before and after battles, loading screens will last longer than the battles themselves. Then you reach a second area where battles get slightly harder, but still easily manageable. But then, you get smacked to reality as the third dungeon, enemies can also one hit you and bosses take barely any damage from your attacks.
Monster Viator has that classic 16-bit pixelated look that old school gamers (and some newer gamers) can appreciate. It’s bright and filled with colorful sprites. There’s also a decent variety of level design as well. The game’s soundtrack is definitely a high point here as it’s perfectly tuned and typical JRPG tracks for exploration across dungeons, towns but the battle theme is a real banger. Thankful for those longer battles.
JRPG fans will revel in Monster Viator. It follows the typical formula to a tee by adding its own sense of uniqueness by adding jobs mixed with monster collecting (in a way). Being able to recruit specific monsters for your party can allow for a lot of variety in terms of party members and subsequent battles. Sure, it’s not perfect as it has balancing issues, but once you get a grasp of the pacing after about an hour, this becomes trivial; same thing with the abundance of loading screens.
- Easy to pick up and play
- Great pixelated visual style
- Early game is poorly balanced
- Too much loading