Monster Train, a brand-new title from the developers over at Shiny Shoe and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment. This Monster Train review is going to be focusing on a number of different elements for the game and will highlight the best or worst aspects of this strange rogue-like, deck building title.
Simple and Clean (perhaps Boring)
As we start off with arguably the least important aspect of any game: the visuals and graphics. When looking at the game, it’s easy to enjoy the overall visuals. There’s plenty of colour and vibrancy, the UI is simple and clean, all without being too overbearing or confusing.
In terms of aesthetics, the game doesn’t really do much wrong. The cards all have their own unique looks to them and the actions/units that go along with them fit the game perfectly, without any issues. Even the units that are summoned look great and are immediately recognizable the moment you see them. That’s a very important part of a deck-builder, since you’re going to want to be able to play cards at just a mere glance once you have enough experience.
Admittedly, the attack animations for the units are very simplified and are somewhat tiresome after you’ve seen them once too often. Thankfully, there’s a setting to speed up the combat by 2x the speed – something you’re bound to do before too long!
Randomly Engagingly Fun!
To state, no one would be remanded if they had initially considered the game nothing more than a clone of Slay the Spire, a very similar game in size and scope. Essentially, the gameplay is exactly the same, with a few changes in the mechanics to differentiate it more than enough.
The game plays with the typical rogue-like formula of starting a brand-new run every single time, with nothing more than the default loadout. By the end of the run, you’re bound to be equipped with a completely different loadout, all with brand-new elements that create a plethora of new strategies and tactics on the player’s end. As with other rogue-likes, by the time the run is over – because the game will not make things easy for you – you’ll have a few permanent improvements for the following run. Usually this is in the form of some new cards that weren’t available to begin with.
So, what exactly is the gameplay? To put it simply, it’s a process of building an on-going deck of cards that progressively changes depending on the decisions you make – be they good or bad. Each card will have a different effect and can be as simple as dealing damage or defending against damage. On top of that, they can be complex, requiring you to rethink a strategy to get the most out of them! In terms of card variety, the complexity they can bring to the table makes the game incredibly engaging and re-playable. Depending on your luck, you may have an absolutely outstanding run or one that is trying its absolute hardest to try and get you killed. This variance is what makes the game so much fun!
It may sound a lot like Slay the Spire, but Monster Train has one key difference in its gameplay: multi-level unit management.
In Monster Train, there are several separate tiers with enemies on the right and your units on the left. Instead of dealing blanket damage a lot of the time, the cards you’ll be using will play a unit on a select tier. Once you’re ready to go, hit end turn and the damage step takes place. This will have the player units fighting against the enemies and vice-versa. On the right side there will be a unit-controller that needs to be killed, so whenever your units break through them, they’ll attack the unit-controller. The enemy can do the same to you, so be aware of your defense. Whoever reaches 0 health is the loser!
Between victories, you can choose the next location to go to, and depending on its difficulty, the rewards will vary. This means that if you play the risky game with higher difficulty, you’re a lot more likely to discover something more powerful. That risk vs. reward element of the game is a great aspect of this title!
Unfortunately at times, you’re going to get those dead runs, where you feel like you just can’t do anything against the AI. At times like this, you need to just dust yourself off and go again for a new, second run. Just a small reminder, though, the game is always going to have an element of luck, so if you’re not a fan of that aspect of deck-builders, it might not be for you.
Pleasant and Forgettable
An element of the game that is easy to forget is the audio and the overall soundtrack of the game as a whole. In terms of the soundtrack, it’s pleasing to the ears, but can easily be switched off if you don’t wish to listen to it. A game like this is easy to lose hours upon hours playing, and while the OST is rather epic and grandiose at the beginning, it does become a tad tiresome after a while – which is to be expected.
When it comes to the overall sound effects, many of which you will experience when placing a unit or playing a card, it varies. Some cards have a very satisfying sound effect when played on the train. Some other cards though definitely do not have that and can be a little disappointing, especially if it’s from your favorite card.
Yet, Simply A Must-Try!
Overall, it’s honestly kind of hard to find fault with the game, at least when talking about the gameplay. The rogue-like, deck-building gameplay is an incredible highlight of this overall package and blends the best of both worlds together. For the first few rounds, it’s understandable if you don’t make it very far and start to get frustrated, but it’s an easy “have another go” type of game. The OST is pretty epic to start off with, but will end up getting tiresome after a bit of time and some cards most definitely do not have a satisfying enough sound effect to them.
To be completely honest, though, Monster Train as a whole is a very enjoyable experience overall and is definitely worth the purchase for fans of deck-building games or rogue-likes. Even more so if you enjoyed Slay the Spire, as the game has a lot of influence over this title! It’s easy to just say Monster Train is nothing more than a clone, but it’s far from it and leads to an incredibly easy recommendation for fans of the genre!
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