Imagine if you will, a game that allows you to experience the entire lifetime of a character and shape your complete experience based on the decisions you make both out on adventures and back in your hometown. Imagine not only managing your attributes by acting and reacting in appropriate ways, but also increasing your meter by which others respect you over the course of your life. Now, imagine you’re a monster. This is essentially what Monster Loves You is: a life simulator that guides you towards one of a multitude of possible lifetimes. It’s a fascinating concept, to be sure.
Too bad it’s not much of a game.
Monster Loves You is an RPG adventure developed by Radial Games and Dejobaan Games in which you play as a monster who lives out a full life, and whose main goal is to acquire respect of fellow monsters and achieve some kind of nirvana in death. The way it works is that you choose from a series of possible adventures and respond to the cues in whatever way you prefer. You are given a finite amount of time to achieve as many objectives as you can and buff your stats into one of many different attributes.
There are four main sections to the game; birth, childhood, adulthood, and life’s end. Childhood is spent having adventures and fleshing out your character by developing strengths and weaknesses. In adulthood, it’s the same thing, except your choices will yield positive or negative respect points that affect how the ending plays out. The final section of Monster Loves You is where you are on your deathbed and must address how you have lived your life. I’ll admit that this was the part of the game I found to be a little bit moving in a strange way. Depending on your stats, as well as a dice roll, your monster will either ascend to a higher plane of existence or dissolve into death. However it plays out will reward you with one of 14 badges to commemorate the life you’ve lived.
This game is colorful and expressive, although not terribly varied. For the most part, Monster Loves You consists of still images, which is not necessarily a problem except for the fact that there are only a handful of settings and images in the whole game. It’s not bad, per se, but visually there’s not much going on beyond the first playthrough.
In many ways, Monster Loves You feels like a throwback to old text adventures which consisted of nothing more than offering you a series of choices and relying on your imagination to fill in the blanks about the details of what’s happening. Text adventures, however, provided a great deal of tension by placing deadly monsters and traps around every corner. This game has a complete absence of fail states, and while I get that the point is to live a full life there is really no incentive to care about what you’re doing unless you are actively trying to get a particular ending (and associated badge/achievement).
A playthrough of Monster Loves You won’t take more than about 45 minutes, and that’s if you’re really thinking about what decisions to make. I admit it was kind of a neat exercise in guiding your character through dialogue and action options, but beyond the initial charm factor, the fact is that there’s really no game at all to speak of. It is literally a Choose Your Own Adventure visual novel — actually that’s not exactly true, because those novels actually have meaningful consequences for your choices. If this game had more depth to it, I might have been more interested in exploring its narrative paths. However, the link between choices and attribute consequences are pretty transparent so there’s not much discovery to be had other than to slavishly get all the endings. I certainly don’t have a problem with this game existing or anything, but for $10, there just isn’t enough content to sustain more than one or two quick playthroughs by anyone but the most dedicated.
[+Cute story] [+Many possible story branches and endings] [+Anyone who reads can play this] [+Pretty soundtrack] [-Literally nothing but dialogue choices] [-$10 too much for what you get] [-Twice through is more than enough]