Monster Sanctuary is a game that’s flown completely under the radar. It’s a Metroidvania with turn-based combat that has you taming monsters as you do in Pokemon. Here’s what I thought of my first 3 hours.
Monster Sanctuary is a game that, on paper, sounds like it would horrible. I mean… who in their right mind would make a turn-based Metroidvania, right? Well, Moi Rai Games from publisher Team17 Digital did and their gambit paid off. Monster Sanctuary is fantastic. The aesthetic is the same as games like Terraria and Starbound. It actually looks more like the latter, but prettier. This game wears its Pokemon inspiration on its sleeve. As soon as the game starts you’re given a choice between 4 starting monsters.
These monsters serve as your protector as well as your guide. If you’re ever lost you can just ask the thing where to go next and it’ll give you some clues. I chose the frog starter because of its bulkiness, and I’m thrilled I did. This thing hits hard and can tank hits for other squishier members in your group. It can even heal! If you’ve ever played a Metroidvania you’ll know what to do. Get lost exploring a huge labyrinth while finding keys and different gadgets to help you progress further in the game. That still applies to Monster Sancturay, but it’s different. Depending on the type of monster following you depends on what special ability you’ll have. Can’t reach that ledge over there? Switch to your bird and have it glide you over.
Is there a secret behind that wall? Switch to your starter (well… the frog I’m not sure on the others) and watch as it destroys the wall with one clean swipe. Every monster you hatch does something in the labyrinth you’re exploring to help you get by. If you can’t progress it’s most likely because you haven’t found the right one yet. That made hatching new monsters exciting because I never knew what new ability I would unlock next.
Combat is a bit slow-paced, but fun. It’s wholly turn-based and every monster on your team will have a chance to act in battle. I like to start by using spells that enhanced my defensive or offensive stats. Then I focus on using whatever moves my opponents are weak against. If you manage to defeat all of your enemies quickly you’ll be rewarded with stars at the end of the battle. The highest is 5 stars and you should aim to get as many as you can so you can get the best possible rewards. The rewards include unlocking that monster you fought as a new companion in the form of an egg. You don’t have to worry about grinding your new addition up to your level because they’ll hatch at whatever level the highest member of your party is. It’s a great way to experiment with new monsters to see which ones work best for you.
Battling isn’t all you do in Monster Sanctuary. There are also puzzles. These puzzles often rewarded me with new loot to equip my team with. Yes, you can equip your monsters with various weapons and accessories to take their stats up. You can even level them up and choose what new skills they’ll take into the next battle with you. It’s nothing super deep or anything we haven’t seen before, but the fact that Moi Rai Games added all of this to a Metroidvania is really impressive and the end result is one of the best games I’ve played this year.
Monster Sanctuary is one of those surprise hits with me. I love Metroidvanias and I love turn-based monster-catching games. I never thought adding the two together would work. Well, it does work and I can’t wait to jump back into this game and complete it. This game even has an online pvp that lets you test your monster team against someone else’s. How cool is that? I’ve yet to unlock it so I’ll be sure to update this (or write an entirely new article) when I do.
You can experience this game yourself as part of Xbox Game Pass. That’s how I’m currently playing it and I plan on buying this game to support the developers since I like it so much.
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I’m Omar. I’m the founder of drakulus.com and the new founder of Petescorner.net. I cover every type of game genre there is and I’m using all of the skills I learned over the last 7 years working on Drakulus to make Pete’s Corner the best it can be. My favorite types of games are strategy, RPGs, and Shooters. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy other types of genres. Those are just my top 3. You can expect my brutally honest opinion on what I think of games in long reviews, editorial pieces, and game news coverage.