Public service announcement to all Switch owners – if you ever found yourself wanting to guide a monster from monsterling to crotchety-elder-monster-trying-to-secure-their-legacy, you’re in luck. Monster Loves You!, first released by Dejobaan Games and Radial Games in 2013 for PC, PS4, and mobile, has now made its way to Nintendo Switch.
Village menace or neurosurgeon?
Monster Loves You! is, at its core, a stats-building interactive novel. You’re repeatedly presented with different “choices” for your monster, which first affect your personality. Later, the fate of both monsters and humanity is at stake.
No pressure, or anything.
The main selling point here is the sheer number of paths open to you, and the replayability that provides. With over 900 choices and more than a dozen different endings on offer, this game is designed to be played multiple times. In fact, with a playthrough clocking in at 45 minutes, getting your money’s worth relies on the fact that you’ll be playing it more than once.
There are some nice touches here. Your monster is shaped visually by the decisions you make, and “kind” choices aren’t more inherently correct than “ferocious” or “clever” choices. The different endings (no spoilers, the ending titles are on the home screen) are wildly varied, from the annihilation of humanity, to becoming a monster neurosurgeon, or just being the gosh-darn kindest, most generous monster who ever was.
You have the freedom to become the monster you always wanted to be. I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Monsters you can take home to meet your parents
Gameplay consists almost entirely of text-based dialogue, overlaid onto bright, static visuals. Luckily, the text is well written and humorous.
With so many references to blood, gore and devouring small animals, the writers have succeeded in walking the fine line required to keep the overall tone very light. I found the Easter egg references to fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel a particular treat.
The vibrant, cartoonish art style also goes a long way to counterbalance the game’s frequent descriptions of violence. Off-put by detailed descriptions of eating small animals? Just look at how cute your monster is! Bright colours! Yay!
The soundtrack is downright charming, changing to suit each monster life-stage. Monsterlings are accompanied by bubbly squeaky-clean tunes, while the music of your older years has a certain mysticism (although I’m certain the soundtrack of my own later years will be a mix of Daft Punk and anime opening songs, not so classy as choirs and strings).
The background environments have also obviously had considerable thought put into them, although I would have liked to have been able to interact with them in some way – even if it were the cliché “click on the house and an eye peers out and winks”.
There must be more than this provincial life
Now, I’m one of those players who can play a game again and again, for even the tiniest promise of a slightly different ending. So, why was it such a struggle for me to do the same with Monster Loves You!?
Despite the decent writing and the many branching choices, the storylines and visuals do eventually become repetitive. Monsters A, B, or C are in trouble – will you help? Will you do it by being scary, brave, smart, or kind?
None of this is helped by the game failing to flag dialogue options you have selected before, and making it difficult to determine which mini-adventures you’ve chosen previously; they are often represented by similar and repeatedly used icons.
I also would have liked to have been able to customise my monster in some way, to be able to identify with each new monster. This feeling of disconnect was amplified by the avatar which represented my monster in dialogue remaining identical in each playthrough, regardless of how my in-game monster was developing visually.
“Love” is a little strong – how about “like”?
Was it worth the developer porting this to the Switch? Yes, I believe it was. The point-and-click dialogue boxes are well suited to touchscreen, and the Switch is fast becoming the best console for indie titles (in our humble opinion).
Monster Loves You! has humorous writing, a bright and quirky art style, and is a fun way to spend a few hours. Only a monster wouldn’t at least find one playthrough to be a charming experience.
Whether you will want to play through each of the 16 endings is a different question. While this game will change your monster’s life, don’t expect it to change yours.