Review – Monster Viator
RPGs are one of my favorite types of games. I’ve been playing them ever since the Super Nintendo and PS1 days with games like Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, as well as the early Final Fantasy titles. RPGs have come a long way since then and in many ways have improved and vastly changed from what they once were. However, there’s something to be said for the slower and more methodically strategic gameplay they offered. KEMCO’s Monster Viator revisits this old school style in a most charming way.
You play as Culter, a mysterious boy with amnesia who has the inexplicable ability to talk to monsters. He meets a young girl by the name of Aira, who can control beasts with her magic harp. Together, they set off to find out answers about his identity and enlist the help of quite a few monsters along the way. It’s essentially Final Fantasy meets Pokemon. In my opinion, that’s never a bad thing.
Like early RPGs, Monster Viator uses a 16 bit 2D art style. The colors are vibrant and there is just enough detail given to the sprites to give them character and make them stand apart from one another. For the most part, the environments are pretty basic, but there is enough diversity between the regions to give them all their unique look and feel.
The music helps out with this too. Each region has its own score, which sells the cultural differences between regions. In fact, the soundtrack as a whole is pretty solid. It delivers the full spectrum of tones, from tense and menacing to up-beat and poppy. The boss battles are particularly epic with some adrenaline-pumping rock tunes to get you into the proper mood. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I never got tired of hearing the music, which is especially important when playing a longer game like any RPG.
The gameplay is turn-based, which is exactly what you would expect from a retro-inspired RPG. It’s simple, but still satisfying. There are multiple job classes you will discover and each of them have their own attributes. This adds a mild complexity to the game, as well as new strategic factors to consider. Job classes can only be changed when you come into contact with certain statues throughout the world, but saving can be done at any time from the main menu. Personally, I love this feature since it takes away the fear of losing a ton of progress if you get annihilated by a random boss before you’ve had the chance to save your game.
There’s also an auto-battle mode and an increased battle speed mode. I appreciated both of these as they make grinding sessions so much easier and less of a chore. Luckily, I didn’t experience the need to grind all that often, since the game usually directs you where to go with the difficulty curves feeling pretty organic. However, like with any RPG, you’ll occasionally come across some bosses and random high ranking encounters that will absolutely destroy you. That’s when you’ll have to grind for a while to level up, but at least with having the option to put it on auto-battle at a much faster speed, you can get through these sluggish sections much faster. Hell, I even did some grinding while I ate some lunch and tidied up my house. Win-win!
Along your travels, you’ll find lots of new weapons, shields, and power-up rings. You can strengthen each of these items up to five times before their benefits are maxed out. This allows you to continuously get better stats without having to frequently scour the world for towns with better equipment. You’ll still be able to purchase stronger items from some towns, but you won’t be stuck with weak equipment for too long this way.
Aside from weapons, shields, and rings to make you a formidable opponent, Monster Viator also has something called Carmina. Carmina are essentially buffs that you can add to each character to give them certain advantages. You’ll start off with being able to equip one Carmina per character, but once they’ve reached level 20, you can equip a second one. They’re all vastly different and playing around with them is key to surviving certain battles. I had a lot of fun experimenting with them and they gave the fights an extra layer of strategy.
I couldn’t finish this review without talking about the monsters. That’s what Monster Viator is about, after all. Through your travels, you’ll find many different monsters that you can recruit to your cause. Each beast harnesses a specific element like wind, water, and fire, which you’ll have to take into consideration when you enter certain regions as certain elements are weaker and stronger against others. Water is stronger against fire, fire is strong against wind, and wind is strong against water. You get the idea.
You can switch out which two monsters you have in your fighting party at any time in the main menu, as long as you’re not currently in battle. Aside from the elemental factors, every monster has their own unique moves, so make sure to change them out often so you can become familiar with them. Some have more healing moves, some add more buffs to the whole team, and others have fierce attacks. Each new area and boss will require different tactics to become the victor, so play it smart and know your team well.
There are over twenty different monsters you can enlist to your team, as well as countless other beasts that you will have to fight along the way. I’m really impressed with how many different monster designs they have. Yes, there are certain creatures that are of the same design, but only colored differently. That’s common in any RPG. That being said, there are still tons of unique enemies you’ll encounter which helps to keep Monster Viator feeling fresh throughout its entirety.
Monster Viator is a delightful throwback to JRPGs from the early 90’s. It has all of the charm of games from that era with its colorful 16 bit art style, adorable sprites, and awesome tunes. However, it also adds some modern day improvements like the ability to save at any time, increase the battle speed, and an auto-battle option. It’s a fairly easy game for the most part, but there are definitely difficulty spikes when it comes to bosses. Luckily, grinding is much less of a headache in this game, so you won’t mind needing to level up in certain areas as much. If you’re a fan of retro-inspired JRPGs or even just a casual JRPG fan, Monster Viator is worth your time.
The charming 16 bit graphics bring you back to the good old days of early 90’s JRPGs. There is a surprising amount of monster varieties.
Classic turn-based JRPG gameplay. There are other aspects to give it more weight, however, like different job skills, a large assortment of boosts (Carmina), and auto-battling options.
No voice acting, but the sound effects are solid and the soundtrack is wonderful. Each area and dungeon have their own theme and the rock tunes during battles are epic.
Monster Viator is a delightful throwback to JRPGs from the early 90’s. It’s fairly easy most of the time, aside from boss battles which are significantly tougher. The story is interesting, but not that deep.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Monster Viator is available now on Android, PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
Reviewed on PS4.