LifeisXbox’s Monster Crown review | When a game is called ‘Pokémon for grownups’, you can count on it grabbing my attention. As you’ve seen by the title, today I’ll be talking about Monster Crown, a game developed by Studio Aurum and published by the famous SOEDESCO. What started as a very successful Kickstarter project recently made its way to Xbox (and PlayStation) after releasing on PC and Nintendo Switch before that. In a world where monsters roam free and an evil young girl seeks power, it’s up to you to battle, tame and breed monsters. Not by catching them, of course, because you can’t release a total copy-paste of the popular Pokémon series. In Monster Crown, you ask monsters if they want to join you! Can you and your monsters restore the balance on Crown Island?
Most Memorable Moment
My most memorable moment was definitely my first breed! I was so excited when I unlocked this feature and ran/flew to The Barn (which is where you breed your monsters) quite often after that. The cool thing about breeding is that you can also name the monster you just bred. And I don’t remember which two monsters I combined for my first breed, but the monster that came out of it reminded me a little of good old Spyro (unfortunately, he wasn’t purple, but still). So naturally, I named the little guy Spyro. He has had his own spot in my party every since!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we Liked!
- Monsters and breeding | When you’re walking around in the wonderful world of Monster Island, you’ll see a bunch of monsters roaming around freely. With over 200 base monsters in Monster Crown, there is plenty of variation. The monsters you’ll encounter come in five types: Will, Brute, Malicious, Unstable and Relentless. Of course, there is an order in this, making it easier to face enemies. For example, Will beats Brute and Relentless beats Will. If you ever forget which types are more effective against each other, you can quickly take a look in the in-game menu. Now, here comes one of the best features of Monster Crown: breeding. It’s also one of the core mechanics as you’ll also need it to advance the main story. Creating hybrids was honestly so much fun and seeing what cool creatures came out of the eggs (unless you used high temperature breeding, which results in an embryo rather than an egg) was super fun. When you’re breeding, you choose one Primary monster and one Secondary monster. The cool thing here is that you can choose between every single monster you encounter. The entire breeding process is very elaborate, extending throughout the entire gameplay.
- Battling and taming monsters | Just as in the popular Pokémon games, you can engage in battle with these creatures, and some will even make their way towards you so if you’re not paying attention, you’ll find yourself in an unexpected battle. Fighting these monsters is pretty standard. You have a party of eight monsters and each one has their own set of moves. When engaging in battle, you can always choose which monster you want to battle with. Then, you can choose to attack your opponent, switch between monsters in your party, offer the opponent a pact, flee, or use an item for example to heal yourself. Offering a monster a pact is the game’s way of ‘catching’ them. You’re actually giving monsters a choice in joining you. Don’t worry though, most of the time you’ll find them accepting your pacts. Then there is also an advanced battle mechanism in place called synergy. Using four bars, you can accumulate synergy by switching between monsters or defending yourself. Attacking when you have synergy bars will make you stronger, for example giving said attack a power boost or lowering the enemy’s defense. It thus always you to beat monsters that are actually a lot stronger than you. Thanks to this synergy system, Monster Crown really sets itself apart from competitors like Pokémon or Nexomon.
- Overall gameplay | Let’s start with the first thing on the list of ‘things that made me feel both positive and negative towards Monster Crown’. While the gameplay has some fun elements, like breeding and combat, the rest of it feels a bit boring. It takes a while for the game to introduce the fun features, so if you are the type of player who after about an hour decides whether or not the game is worth continuing, I think you are going to say ‘no’ to this one. It’s a slow start, that’s for sure. The quests were always pretty straightforward, but were nowhere to be found. You can only rely on your tiny map that has a blunt cross on a specific town so you know where to go. It’s not like I felt like I was lacking guidance, but I often forgot what the story was, or what I was doing again and just relied on going towards the X on the map. A cool feature was the online multiplayer option, but I barely used it since I was focused on the main story for the most part. I did, however, miss a local multiplayer option.
- 8-bit graphics and unoriginal soundtrack | While I initially thought I would be really fond of the art style provided by Monster Crown, I found them to fall a little short. First and foremost, I found the monsters to be very cool but maybe a bit unfinished. They felt more like overall shapes that lacked detail. And even though I did love some of the monsters I recruited, I often found myself feeling indifferent towards them and the way they looked. When looking at this game, you cannot help but compare everything to Pokémon, as it clearly draws so so so much inspiration from it. And simply put: if you compare the monster design, Monster Crown falls behind by a long shot. Then we have the world itself. The game does offer various areas that are clearly distinguishable from each other, like Nio Kio City being very urband and alive, or snowy city of Frobec. Overall, I enjoyed the scenery of Monster Crown but often, the roads and off-paths were quite confusing. Dead ends were quite common and the small map in the lower left corner of your screen is useful, but only for a wide view. Besides this, I can be quite short about the soundtrack and sound-effects of the game: they screamed Pokémon. Even when my boyfriend walked in when I was playing Monster Crown, he felt like it was just a little too much Pokémon inspired.
- Story | I love a good story, especially in RPGs. Unfortunately, the story in this game didn’t really live up to my expectations. In Monster Crown, you play as a kid living on a firm on Monster Island with your mom and dad. After a long period of piece, an evil power-hungry girl named Beth wants to find the Philosopher King’s hidden power in orde to force her own agenda and rule the land. When your dad thinkgs you’re ready to see the world and tame your own monsters, he sends you on a mission to deliver a gift to the king. As you can guess, this is where you faith intertwines with Beth’s. You’ll soon discover the dark past of the world you’re travelling through! The overall story left me quite unsatisfied simply because it tried to be dark and light-hearted at the same time. I just didn’t really care for it and found myself skipping a lot of dialogue after a few hours.
- NPCs | Monster Crown is the perfect game for NPCs. And luckily, there were a lot of them in every city, town, and basically around every corner. However, talking to them often turned out to be a waste of time. I found that the conversations I had with most of the NPCs were boring, and sometimes they only said one thing. And then you moved on to the next person in town, and they said the exact same. They also didn’t really provide any useful information or offer any side quests. I was also hoping to engage in battle with a lot of people, but again, I was left disappointed. There are only a handful of NPCs that actually want to battle you, so training your monsters had to come from battling the monsters roaming the land (meaning that it went very slow). Most NPCs I encountered actually wanted to trade, which is a nice feature, of course, but a little more battles would’ve been nice.
What we Disliked
- Factors that needed more care | Now, let’s talk about everything that was just straight up wrong, annoying, or frustrating. And unfortunately, there are quite a few things on my list, which is why I bundled them into one item. Let’s start with the animations during battle. Basically, just like the monster designs, they were too simple and lacked depth. The attacks usually looked plain boring and seemed to lack overall effort. While we’re on the topic of battles and monsters, let’s talk about the various moves that monsters posses. Every monster starts out with a few moves (some with only two, others with more). However, when a monster learns a new move, the game does not announce this. I can’t help but wonder why this is the case. I want to be invested in my precious monsters, so I want to know when they learn new moves. The game tells you when they level up, so why not when they gain a new move?
Some other issues I had with Monster Crown are more technical. For example, there is no autosave feature, which, in this day and age, is just a mistake I think. I usually only have limited time to play games due to various reasons, so even if I can squeeze in half an hour on my Xbox, I’ll try to make it count. An autosave would be so great here. It’s a great way to prevent frustration if a game crashes too, by the way. Luckily, the game did not crash so no worries about that! But there was another issue with the saving. You can manually save your game from the menu (which is not ideal, by the way, the menu is really chuncky and I disliked using it too). I played for about 30 to 45 minutes, saved the game, and went to bed. I came back to the game the next day, and the progress I made the day before WAS NOT SAVED. I was so annoyed because I always make sure I save. So, I had no option but to play through the same part again. So I did, and did some extra things too. I saved, closed the game, and when I came back to it the next day I had the same issue. I had now played through part of the main story line twice and both times I saved, but the game, for whatever reason, thought it’d be fun for me to go through everything a third time. I am going to be honest here and say that I quit after seven hours, and I’m not sure I’m going to return. I think I still need about 2 or 3 hours to finish but if I’m going to keep having to redo parts… I just don’t have the time for that.
How long to beat the story | About 10 to 15 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 15+ hours
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂