Collecting, and upgrading monsters has been a pastime for many, but that experience hasn’t been that common on iOS. Monster Adventures is a new game looking to fill that untapped niche on iOS, by giving more than just a simple Pokemon clone. Instead it combines some elements of collecting & battling monsters with action RPG gameplay to make a new style. The game comes from Foursaken Media who has a history of merging genres with Heroes and Castles combining castle defense and 3rd person RPG, while Block Fortress merges Minecraft with some tower defense, and first person shooter elements. Monster Adventures is instantly recognizable as another in Foursaken’s stable of games with a familiar 3D art style, and the genre mash-up.
The game begins with your player discovering a monster that is instinctually tied to him, and from there you embark on a deluxe adventure. The heart of the game is sending your monster out into the wilderness in an attempt to discover new beings to either collect, or do battle. It’s a little of both as you need to wear down the enemies you come across to capture them. Once captured, you can use their abilities to enhance your own monster’s skill set. There are also boss battles out in the wild, which lets you pick up various pieces that you can outfit your monster with. There’s some special jargon for the collectibles, but essentially you collect forms that can be applied to the head, body, arms, and legs, and you can tap into different entities for the four different sections. For instance your monster can have a spiked head, bird’s wings, tiger’s claws, and rock based legs.
Everything you do contributes to upgrading your monster, so you continually go into the wilderness to experience the action RPG style. There are also some rogue-like elements in collecting various pieces of loot, which you try to return home, because if your monster falls in the wild, you lose all of your loot. As you enhance your monster, you can get it ready for monster battles in the coliseum, which provides a leveled up monster combatant to do battle with for a grand prize. There are also numerous quests to achieve to again help perform the RPG style upgrades to the monster. If that wasn’t enough, all of the single player actions can also be performed through online multiplayer with an option for head to head online battle, or co-op exploration in the wilderness.
There’s a lot to get familiar with, but once you do it’s a relatively straightforward game experience. The initial stages can be quite convoluted, and it’s not the most inviting game with the methodical introduction of actual engaging gameplay. Everything in the game seems slow moving to really draw out the upgrades to potentially turn off some users before the main features are truly activated. The difficulty curve is also a bit off putting, because it seems you’re always out classed by bosses in the wilderness, and monsters in the arena. It takes a lot of rudimentary tasks of collecting simple blobs, and earning coins to get the new abilities, and forms to actually make for a level playing field. With that said, the game invites you to go to portals in the wilderness, and face bosses even when your monster isn’t ready. The main structure of the game just isn’t balanced as good as it could be to create a nice flow of collecting, battling, and upgrading, and instead it’s a truncated experience that requires a methodical approach.
One of the biggest problems with the game is that while there’s a lot going on, the base gameplay is surprisingly basic. Most of the action in the game becomes a simple button masher with a convoluted control scheme to switch through abilities. You end up doing the same thing over, and over as you go into the wilderness, and the battles aren’t set-up that well. It’s tough to dodge attacks, and mostly it’s about overpowering an enemy, or being overpowered all dependent upon skill level going in, and not any gameplay aspects. The base actions are easy enough, but activating the different abilities is done through a menu system on the right side of the screen. The menu is also overly dense to make it something that you just try to avoid. Another problem that is key to the game is elemental powers that help you capture specific enemies in the wild, but getting elemental powers requires in-app purchases, rather than being earned like coins.
Monster Adventures ($1.99, Universal) is overbearing, and convoluted at times with all of these extras that try to mask a relatively bland, and uninteresting gameplay style. There’s a lot of rudimentary repetition to unlock new abilities, and areas to explore, which only open up more of the same rudimentary repetition but at a higher level. Monster Adventures looks promising on the surface, but comes up short when digging through all of the clutter making it one to skip.