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Monster Sanctuary Review

Monster Sanctuary Review

In this retro-inspired Metroidvania RPG created by Moi Rai and Team 17, you play as a young Monster Keeper who is just starting on their journey. The first thing required is to pick an astral familiar. An astral familiar is a monster who will stay with you during the full duration of your journey. They are there to help battle and give you advice as you progress. There are four different familiars to choose from with their own strengths and weaknesses and they all look super cool, which makes this decision really hard. Spectral Wolf who has water and wind attacks; Eagle with fire and wind attacks; Toad with earth and water attacks; and Spectral Lion with strong fire and earth attacks. I chose the Lion since I have two cats at home and figured some feline representation in the game would be needed. Next up is one of the tasks that I find hardest, picking a name. Since my familiar is a lion, I could have gone with something regal or related to The Lion King movie, but instead I use the simplest name ever; Fire Kitty. 

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By reading the description of the game, you may think that it sounds a lot like the games in the Pokémon series. The idea of fighting with teams of monsters is similar, but Monster Sanctuary is so much more complex, and a lot more humane. The key to make a monster more loyal is to hatch them from the egg. Monster Keepers raise their own monsters who will grow alongside them and fight to protect them. This definitely sounds a lot nicer than throwing a ball at a wild Pokémon and trapping them, forcing them to fight for you. At the beginning you will only have your familiar monster to fight with, but as you defeat enemies, they will drop items like food, items like Double Jump boots or eggs. This is how you grow your monster team. As soon as you get an egg in your possession all you need to do is hatch it, and give it a swanky name. Or if you really like, you can have 50 of the same monster with the default name like Magmapillar power to you. I find it way too hard to keep track of the stronger ones I want to use in battle if the names are too similar. Instead my Magmapillar has the name Hotpocket, and my slime Dr Slimy Squish. Names are capped at 15 characters, so I had to spell slimey wrong to make it fit.

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As you raise more monsters you will see up to three monsters will fight together as a team in battle. Each turn in the battle allows you to switch who you want to attack first, which is really beneficial when using the combo system. In the top right of your screen you will see a Combo Counter that increases based on how often you hit your enemies or heal or buff your allies. It definitely pays off to be strategic in planning your moves. If you use weaker characters to heal and buff your team first, it increases the amount of damage you will deal in the following attacks. This counter will reset after every turn so there is always a chance to maximise your attack power. One aspect I love is when you are in battle and you are choosing which attack to use, if you click on move and highlight who you want to target, you can see exactly how much damage you will do. This is extremely handy for figuring out which of your attacks will be the most effective. It also works this way for the various healing moves too. Speaking of healing, Monster Sanctuary has a very unique health system. During battle, the monster has mana that will automatically work on replenishing some of their health. If needed you can always use a healing spell or potion to help you out. After you are done with the battle, all your monsters go back to full health. So you don’t have to worry about remembering to heal before you are thrown back into battle, or buying crazy amounts of potions.

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When you are victorious in battle, the monsters will earn points to use on their skill tree to unlock new attacks and magic. Each character has at least four different trees to select from, assigning them new moves or making their current moves more powerful. If you ever feel like you totally messed up on the skills you were learning, you can buy a Skill Resetter that will reset the skill tree. To increase the stats for your monsters, you can equip them with weapons and up to three accessories to strengthen them. You can also collect food which will also raise the monsters stats. Keep in mind though, that only the last three things they have eaten will have any effect on their stats. Each type of food will affect something different, like a potato will add hit points to your current total HP, an apple adds to your mana and eating a berry will increase the amount of critical damage your monster can do.

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I appreciate that the battles you are in take place exactly where you are standing at that time. No weird transportations to somewhere else like you may see in other RPGs; you fight on that spot. The visuals in the game are great and reminiscent of other great 16-bit role playing games in the past. There is a huge variety of monsters, some based on animals and bugs and others on more mythological creatures like tengu. I found it really tricky to decide who is going to be on my team since there are so many cool monsters. After a while you may find that you have a ton of duplicate monsters, or a ton of eggs you aren’t hatching. Fortunately there is a good use for them! Instead of just sitting in a box collecting dust, you can donate them to the Keepers Stronghold, which provides resources for monster keepers and tries to keep the land safe from the attacking Champion monsters. They will use them to fortify their armies to keep everyone safe.

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As you play, you will come across strong monsters known as Champions. Champions don’t usually allow anyone to control them, and they won’t let other monsters fight with them. They are quite rare but very strong, and there have been a lot more of them spotted around the Sanctuary. As you defeat Champions, you will rise in rank as a Monster Keeper, possibly even to the highest rank of Keeper Master, which only happens once every few generations. Your character’s goal is to be even more accomplished than his grandfather who reached the rank of Keeper Dragon, the second highest level. So it is up to you to get him there.

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This game is so in depth and has so much going on for it, it’s a game you have to check out, especially if you are a fan of Pokémon, platformers or love old school RPGs. Or if you have always wanted to see what a mix of the three would look like, this is it. I highly recommend checking this title out, there is a demo available on Steam and it is currently on the Game Pass service. Hopefully you have more ideas for monster names than I do, I think I’m going to start naming them after food items. Next up, monsters named Noodles and Pop Tart.

9.00/10 9

Monster Sanctuary (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

A great mix of a platformer, RPG and monster catching game Monster Sanctuary has so much depth and content to keep you busy for a long time. Feels like a great RPG from the 16-bit era, a ton of cool monsters to hatch, to aid you on your quest.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alana Dunitz

Alana Dunitz

Staff Writer

Lover of cats, coffee and all kinds of videogames! With a soft spot for retro and import games.

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