Monster Loves You! (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, April 27, 2013

When I was younger I was a big fan of the “choose your own adventure” novel, where you would make a decision and flip to the appropriate page to continue the story. This interest carried over into the visual novel gaming genre as I got older, and while the majority of games in this style continue to be Japanese in origin and romance/drama oriented a few developers in other countries have tried their hand at it. Dejobaan and Radial Games are the latest to do so with Monster Loves You! but they have taken the genre in a very different direction. In this title you step into the role of a monster from birth to death and make decisions along the way that affect your personality and character. It’s a fairly short title that may not be for everyone, but there’s a lot of charm and plenty of opportunities for multiple play-throughs should the quirkiness catch your attention.

Dejobaan titles have always been a little bit quirky, and while this one was co-developed with Radial the sense of humor the studio is known for has remained intact. Like most visual novels, gameplay consists of reading each scenario and then making choices to determine how your monster will react to them. The game is divided up into life cycles, starting with birth, and then going through adolescence and adulthood. Each of these cycles gives players a set number of days and a slew of scenarios to choose from, and the way everything is structured ensures that it isn’t possible to see every event or option in one go. Your monster has traits that are developed based upon your actions, and these are divided into Kindness, Ferocity, Bravery, Honest, and Cleverness (and when you’re an adult you also try and gain Respect from the other monsters). The options you choose in each situation determine whether these traits rise or fall, and play a direct role in whether you become an Elder at the end of adulthood or are dissolved in the spawning vat and bring the game to a close early.

The writing is what absolutely won me over, as there is a sense of whimsicalness throughout each of the different stages of life. Considering that a visual novel has the player reading the entire time they play, it’s critical that the script remains engaging, and that’s exactly what Dejobaan and Radial were able to pull off. On my first play-through I played it straight and made an honest and kind monster that was well respected and created peace with the humans, while the second time around I thought through problems with my claws. That particular monster didn’t last very long, but I still enjoyed the experience and discovering what unique and humorous situation I can get into next. It’s entirely possible to go to war with the humans as an elder or even completely abandon monsters entirely and live disguised as a human doctor. Depending on your reading speed and how fast you choose to make decisions, a single game can last between 30-40 minutes to an hour and a half or so making Monster Loves You! a title that one can run through when they have a quick moment (and it is possible to save your progress at any point). Your personal tastes will likely determine how much replay value this title offers, but I enjoyed the writing and wanted to go through several times to try out different character traits. I do wish there were a few more days per life cycle, but considering how much branching dialogue the game already has the developers may have gone crazy trying to put too much else in.

Visual novels in Japan have been split between games that are completely static and titles that have some limited animation but Monster Loves You! goes for an entirely static approach. The graphics have a hand drawn comic book feel to them and some of the monster portraits that characters will encounter have a fairly imaginative look, which helps to flesh out the overall world. One complaint I have is that the monster town locations are only a few static backgrounds that the text/menus are placed on top of. I really liked the level of detail that was placed on your monster’s personal house, and a few more backgrounds of this type would’ve added additional depth. The menus are also well designed and it is easy to navigate and read through all of the choices, making this a game that seems as though it could be enjoyed by just about any age. As for the sound work, there are very little sound effects but the background music is great. Dejobaan and Radial went for mellow, cheerful background music that reinforces the whimsical nature of the game and I found that a few hours after I had finished playing some of the tunes were still stuck in my head. That’s certainly a rare occurrence, and considering that this was a title based around reading I was pleasantly surprised that the music stood out.

As someone that has played through plenty of Japanese and Western visual novels I enjoyed Monster Loves You! quite a bit, but I feel that the 30-40 minute playing time and bright and colorful visuals should help this particular game stand out to players that aren’t usually into this type of thing. It’s a lot more accessible, especially as you’re only managing a handful of character traits. At the $10 price point, if the idea of an interactive novel/comic book appeals to you and you think the story will warrant multiple play-throughs then I highly recommend checking it out. Again, this all depends on your personal tastes and there are some people that may not accept the idea of a game that’s essentially just reading and picking options, but keep an open mind and I suspect you may be pleasantly surprised. I hope more casual/all-ages style visual and interactive novels like this one, as they could really help to bring the genre out of obscurity and inspire further creativity.

http://www.dejobaan.com/monster/
http://store.steampowered.com/app/226740/

The Good

+ Quirky scenarios and amusing dialogue

+ Plenty of choices allowing for multiple play-throughs

+ Charming art style and relaxing background music


The Bad

- Not enough graphical backgrounds, could use additional variety

- Monster life cycles fly by just a bit too quickly

Verdict7.5

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