When I was a kid I remember when I received my first Pokemon game. I quickly became a huge fan of the franchise as the gameplay was quite addicting. While I am not as big of a fan of the franchise as I once was, the basic premise behind the Pokemon franchise still interests me. There have been a number of indie games that have tried their own twist on the formula over the years. One of those games was Monster Crown which released on PC around a year and a half ago and made its way to Nintendo Switch last October. Well Monster Crown has finally made its way to PlayStation today giving me a good reason to check it out. Monster Crown is an interesting more adult twist on the typical Pokemon formula which leads to an interesting game that is held back by some bugs.
If it wasn’t already really obvious, Monster Crown was clearly inspired by the Pokemon series. The game actually shares quite a bit in common with the older Pokemon games. Throughout your adventures you will get into monster battles. Once you have weakened a monster you can offer it a pact in order to join your team. Once a monster joins your team you can use them in future fights.
The battle system is similar to your typical monster training game. You and your opponent take turns using various attacks. Your goal is to deplete your opponent’s health before they do the same to you. The battles rely on a sort of rock, papers, scissors mechanic where each move and creature has an associated type. Each type is strong against one type and weak against another. Outside of having strong creatures in your party, you need to take advantage of type advantages in order to succeed in battle.
While it is obvious that Monster Crown was inspired by Pokemon, the game also has a decidedly more adult feel to it than its inspiration. The game is far from a mature game, but it does delve into more adult topics which ultimately makes it feel more realistic than Pokemon. If Pokemon actually existed, I think the world that would result would be close to Monster Crown’s than Pokemon’s. The world has had a number of recent wars, the existence of monsters lead to deaths, and the villains in the world are more realistic. The world just doesn’t have the same charming/rose colored glasses feel as the Pokemon titles. This even applies to the gameplay as it gives you gameplay options like losing creatures for good if they lose all of their health in combat.
I found this to be a pretty interesting twist on your typical monster training game. While I like the charm of the Pokemon series, I found it intriguing to play a more adult Pokemon style game. The world of Monster Crown is quite interesting where it has similarities with other games from the genre while also feeling quite different as well. If you are generally intrigued by the Pokemon premise but wish it was a little more adult, I think you will really appreciate this aspect of Monster Crown.
Ultimately I found the main combat of the game to be enjoyable. I wouldn’t say that the combat is significantly different than most other games from the genre. It does have a bigger emphasis on switching out creatures to get a boost to moves, but otherwise it is all based around trying to use type advantages to your own advantage. Basically your thoughts on the combat are going to be similar to your thoughts on every other game from this genre. If you have never really liked the Pokemon style gameplay, I don’t see the game changing your mind. Those who enjoy the premise though but want a more adult approach should enjoy the gameplay.
Outside of some minor tweaks to the gameplay, the other major element that differentiates Monster Crown from other games in the genre is the emphasis on the breeding mechanics. Most games from this genre have some sort of breeding mechanic where you can try to create more powerful versions of the various creatures. This seems to be a much bigger emphasis in Monster Crown as you can end up creating hybrids to give you even more creature possibilities as well as tweaking their stats and abilities.
While I haven’t spent much time with the breeding mechanic in Monster Crown (more on this later), this is a really interesting addition to the game. I am not the type of player to micromanage their team of creatures to make them the absolute best that they can be. Those who like the idea of trying to create the best versions of each creature imaginable will likely really enjoy this aspect of the game. The game already has quite a few different creature types and with the ability to create hybrids the number of possibilities is impressive. Players who are big into the breeding aspects of these other monster training games will likely really appreciate this aspect of the game.
Monster Crown has a lot of potential and there are a lot of things that I liked about the game. The game has some issues though that prevent it from being as good as it could have been.
The biggest problem with the game is just the fact that there are quite a few bugs in the game. I will preface this by saying that this review is based off of a pre-release build of the game so some of these issues may have already been fixed. Some of the bugs are minor like graphical glitches and other smaller problems which are more annoyances than game breaking. There are more significant issues in the game though. While playing the game I have encountered a number of game crashes that have kicked me back to the main menu. I also got stuck behind a character at one point where it was impossible to move anywhere. For these reasons I would recommend saving regularly or you may end up losing quite a bit of progress. The biggest issue though is that I have yet to be able to actually do much with the breeding as whenever I open up the menu I get a black screen which prevents me from doing anything with the mechanic. You eventually get to a point in the story where you have to breed monsters in order to progress, and due to this bug it is impossible for me to continue in the game until it is fixed.
Other than the bugs, the other major issue I had with Monster Crown is just the fact that the game makes itself more complicated than it needed to be. The game doesn’t give you a lot of direction at times where you are basically on your own to figure out how to proceed. Outside of a checkmark on your mini-map you aren’t given much direction on what you are supposed to do next.
This extends into the gameplay itself. To differentiate itself from games like Pokemon I understand why the game wanted to change things to differentiate itself. I applaud the game for the most part in these efforts. I think the choice of monster types was a mistake though. In Pokemon most of the type strengths and weaknesses are obvious. Fire beats grass while water beats fire for example. These make intuitive sense and thus are easy to figure out. Instead Monster Crown uses types such as malicious, brute, will, etc. It is not particularly evident which of these types are strong against others. I eventually started to learn the strengths/weaknesses, but for quite a long time I had to reference the charts that I made outlining what was strong and weak against each type. I think the game could have done a better job making the strengths and weaknesses of each of the monster types more evident.
Like a lot of RPGs the game has sections where you will have to grind in order to make progress. I applaud the game as you can turn on a setting that automatically shares all experience earned from a fight with all of the creatures currently with you. This helps with leveling up weaker creatures as you can go into harder fights and have your more powerful creatures fight and give experience to your weaker creatures. The game also has a weird quirk where you will encounter some really powerful creatures in your journey. These creatures are made difficult so they are harder to beat. As you can use eight creatures in each fight though you can use all of them to weaken the creature enough that its health is depleted to the point where you can get them to join your team. If you can successfully do this, you will have a really powerful creature for future fights which will help you breeze through your next fights. In a way it is better to just keep acquiring new more powerful creatures rather than putting in the time to increase the level of the creatures you already have.
Normally I like to give an estimate of a game’s length, but I can’t give a definitive length for Monster Crown due to a couple reasons. First I haven’t been able to complete the game myself due to the bug I mentioned earlier. Second the game is the type where the length is going to depend on what type of player that you are. If you rush through the game only doing what is needed to progress the story you will likely finish the game considerably quicker than someone who takes their time. Especially if you take your time with the breeding and training aspects of the game it could add a ton of time to the game. I would guess the average player will take around 10 hours to beat the main story/gameplay. If you spend more time with the training/breeding mechanics though, I think it could be considerably longer.
Heading into Monster Crown I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I generally enjoy a good monster training game and the idea of a more adult oriented game kind of intrigued me. Monster Crown shares quite a bit in common with your typical game from the genre. The gameplay is still quite fun as you acquire your own team and try to make them more powerful. The game also has a pretty extensive breeding system allowing you to create your own creatures. I had fun with the game and it shows a lot of potential. Unfortunately at this time the game has quite a few bugs which can sometimes be annoying and other times will break the game. Otherwise the game could have given the players a little more direction leading to some scenarios where you are basically left on your own to figure out what you need to do.
If you generally are not a big fan of the “Pokemon” gameplay or aren’t interested in a more adult take on the genre, I don’t know if Monster Crown will be for you. If you are looking for an interesting monster training game though and can look past the game’s bugs, I think there is an enjoyable game here that you should consider picking up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Studio Aurum and SOEDESCO for the review copy of Monster Crown used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.