STAFF REVIEW of Monster Slayers (Xbox One)

Thursday, June 7, 2018.
by Kirsten Naughton

Monster Slayers Box art Remember those movies where you could slay dragons and save the princess? Well, I'm here to tell you that Monster Slayer is not that kind of game. There is a dragon, but, sadly, there is no princess. Nope, in this game there's three legendary monsters, and you have to come home victorious from slaying them all.

Brought to you by Nerdook Productions, Monster Slayer is a 2D-action rogue-like RPG. You have the option of playing eight different characters that all have different abilities and weaknesses that should suit a lot of gamers styles out there and you will be able to choose from and what you can expect when playing them:

- Dragon: No merchants, weapons or armour, but you gain free elemental damage per attack (toggle skin tone to set elemental type).

- Rogue: Sneaky melee class, great at disarming traps, earning extra gold and drawing a lot of cards.

- Ranger: Ranged specialist. Great at dodging and landing accurate and critical hits. Always starts first in battle.

- Knight: Defensive melee class, great at blocking damage, counter attacks and anti-magic abilities.

- Barbarian: Offensive melee class, great at dishing out large amounts of damage even at the expense of your own life.

- Cleric: Magic healer, great at tanking, healing damage and highly effective versus undead enemies.

- Wizard: Magic glass cannon, great at dealing incredible amounts of damage very quickly.

- Merchant: Starts with a thin deck, and has access to cards from all six starting classes. Merchant restocks do not increase in cost.

Don't expect a real in-depth character customization as things are fairly basic in this area. It can be best described as: pick a name, skin tone, voice, hair style, hair colour and gender, and that's it. Nothing too fancy but not a deal breaker by any means.

After customizing your character you head to a map, and it's basically the main page. Here you'll find that there are different areas where you can go, such as Elderberry Forest, The Old Castle, The Dead Forest, Crystal Caverns, the Forbidden Forest and the Volcanic tunnels. Now, right off the bat, I was not a fan with the basic controls. I found that moving my joystick where I wanted to go was rather unresponsive. For example, when I moved the joystick to the left to try to go beyond the Old Castle or Elderberry Forest, it would have a slight lag in the actual movement of the cursor. Now, I'm not entirely sure if that's just how it was made, but it makes it rather frustrating to navigate the map.

Navigating the map aside, you finally get to your first destination, Elderberry Forest. This is where the tutorial is found. In your mini-map that comes up, you click on the entrance, and after entering you are greeted by an enemy. He's usually pretty easy. After beating that enemy, the mini map shows you what is available to you including such things as an enemy and the level it is found in, or if its a treasure chest. During your adventure, you will come across non-combat situations (like treasure chests) that require you to make a decision. Most of these decisions will modify your deck of cards.

Before I get into my thoughts on combat, I'll take you through the battles. The battles are turn based as you choose your cards for your moves. They vary from heal or attack cards. You have the option to get another hand before the battle begins, or keep the one you have. Mana is spent to play magic cards, as your hero regenerates one mana at the start of each turn. Action Points (AP) are also reset at the end of each turn, so any unspent points are wasted. AP's can be used to acquire such things as additional HP and more. Your hero's equipped weapon also adds damage to the first attack each turn.

The battles remind me of Castle Crashers so much, except for the fact you don't control your character you are playing. You just choose and click and then the battle plays out. As a more personal note, I like being able to control my character. I don't like games that I sit there and simply click the A button. That's not as entertaining for me.

I have to be honest, while I may not seem to be a huge fan of Monster Slayers, I have to admit that it has some solid gameplay, it's just not my cup of tea. I have two reasons why and I feel they are significant enough to make the game either really irritating or the perfect, depending on your preference. It all depends on the kind of gamer you are.

The game progresses through a day by day system. Every time you die, you essentially have to start all over again with a new character at level one, but the days keep going. Now, I'm the kind of gamer who finds satisfaction in leveling up characters and advancing to different areas. this is why Monster Slayer frustrated me, because no matter how long I tried, I would die and have to start all over again. This may or may not be a deal breaker for you, but either way, it's something to point out.

After what feels like a handful of hours filled with fighting, collecting coins and dying, I feel this game is very repetitive. With you dying, as I said above, you get knocked back down to level one and have to choose your character again. For me, I love games with variety and a sense of adventure, as it keeps me playing again and again. I don't find it enjoyable to do the same fight with the same enemy repeatedly.

Irregardless of my personal thoughts, Monster Slayer is a well built game for anyone that likes rogue-like games, where you'll find yourself dying over and over again and having to restart. I like the graphics and the layout, but it just wasn't my kind of game. I may never be a Monster Slayer, but that doesn't mean you can't give this game a chance. Try it out, you may just find that you like it!

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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