With the likes of Block Fortress [Free / $1.99] and Heroes & Castles [Free / $1.99], the bros at Foursaken Media really have a penchant for creating great games across substantially different premises. This trend continues with Monster Adventures [$0.99], a dungeon crawler with loads of character customization and a touch of rogue-like randomization. It succeeds wonderfully too, making it yet another title from Foursaken worth playing.
The story in Monster Adventures starts out relatively simple, focusing on your role as a novice trainer representing your town in a monster tournament. In order to train for the tournament, you'll have to take your monster into the wild to defeat wildlings, which earn gold, experience and abilities. Earning all three improves your monster, which allows you to go further into the wild and lets you earn even more of the above, and so on. Meanwhile, you can enter your monster into the tournament, advancing up the ranks until you win the whole thing. It's a straightforward mission, but it gets the job done for keeping you engaged.
Also pretty straightforward is Monster Adventure's action-RPG gameplay. The wilds are divided into levels which are further separated into randomized stages which remind me of the original Legend of Zelda (minus the randomness). Guide your monster to a new stage, take out the wildlings, earn rewards and repeat. In addition to simply taking out baddies, you can also capture them for AP, which is used to learn new abilities.
Each level always has a screen that will have a town teleporter, as well as a screen that'll let you go deeper into the wilds (which open up harder enemies and greater rewards). There's a constant tension between exploring further and returning home to cash out your rewards (dying in the wilds substantially reduces the gold and experience earned), which I loved as a risk/reward mechanic.
While similar games offer the allure of customization via allowing players to capture a wide variety of monsters that have different stats and abilities, Monster Adventures instead accomplishes this with a full-on emphasis on individual monster advancement. Players can customize their monsters in three separate ways. Essences can be equipped in a similar fashion to weapons/armor which increase your monster's attributes in a variety of different ways. Abilities are earned by capturing wildlings in the field and are separated into active abilities (of which only four can be equipped) and passive abilities, which are always active.
Finally, players can also change the elemental attunement of their monsters which both grants additional stats and also makes them strong/weak against other elementals. Elementals are probably the most significant customization, as it creates a rock/paper/scissors-esque relationship with enemies that can either help you take on tough foes or make it far more difficult. It's important to note that Monster Adventures starts off a bit slow, but as you delve deeper into the tournament and wilds, you unlock a lot more options.
I'm a huge fan of the sheer amount of customizability in Monster Adventures. Essences do more than offer immediate attribute increases and appearance changes -- they also impact stat increases for level-ups, allowing some pretty deep long-term customization. Combine this with the large selection of possible abilities along with the elemental attuenment, and Monster Adventures does a great job allowing players to truly create monsters that appeal to their play style. Eventually, you unlock additional monsters, allowing you to maintain multiple characters with different attributes/abilities.
Monster Adventures does contain some IAP, and while it is relatively tame, one area that I'm a bit iffy on deals with the elemental currency. Elemental Orbs are used to change elemental attunement. Considering the fact that your Monster's elemental alignment affects a great deal of things, including capturing monsters, I found myself wanting to change it often. Unfortunately, orbs are a bit rare at the onset, although I started earning more once you unlocked a few passive abilities to raise the earn rate. In addition, cheaper items that temporarily change your monster's elemental also alleviate the Orb shortage.
Make no mistake, Monster Adventures banks a lot on its customization system to succeed. Thankfully, the impressive amount of options combined with decent controls and robust multiplayer options (including co-op!) means it succeeds easily. Monster Adventures is a great action-RPG that you simply need to check out.
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