Tuesday, April 9

Review: Monster Slayers [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While deck-building games haven’t generally grabbed my interest, I think having more to do with how the free-to-play variety have a tendency to not be so free for long, I’ve always thought when paired with the right hook I could get into them. The concept of starting out with a sort of stock set of cards and then slowly either upgrading them, adding new stronger ones, or even pruning the weak to slowly improve your odds of success makes sense and seems to encourage refinement and strategizing more than pure luck over the longer haul. In the case of Monster Slayers you’ll be working through a roguelike RPG setup, working to build up your character and trying to make smart strategic decisions along the way to maximize your chances of success between the strength of your deck and permanent perks that you gather as you gain fame for your guild that will benefit your future characters.

You’ll begin each quest by choosing your class, and while you won’t have them all unlocked initially you’ll eventually have 12 to choose from. Whether trying to tank it up, use spells that slowly sap away enemy health, or setting up powerful chained attacks to bring down your opponents there’s something to suit pretty well every taste. You’ll move through a randomized dungeon every time, with monsters, healing, and potential help peppered around for you to find, and hopefully in a combination that’s favorable to your survival. Making smart use of what you find can be key, like taking a chance that you’ll be able to level up and heal rather than wasting a trip to the healer.

There are a variety of special tiles that will give you chances at new cards, gain gold, get additional action points for combat, or to upgrade or even remove cards in your deck. This is where your sense of strategy needs to kick in, figuring out what’s either been holding you back, like carrying too many weaker skills, giving more punch to one of your cornerstone cards, or picking up something new to shore up an area of weakness. If you at least generally stick to the same sort of class the longer-term perk system will help you bolster your core pretty effectively as well, and provides you further chances to amp up your damage, or tweak some of your stats to make you more effective.

While not everyone enjoys the card battle system concept Monster Slayers does a pretty excellent job of making it interesting and rewarding if you take the time to get acquainted with it. As with all roguelikes not every run will be a winner, but by making smart decisions and carefully tending to your deck you can have a pretty good time with it as well. Its pacing and perhaps the learning curve for people unfamiliar with this style of play may not give it universal appeal but for people willing to invest some time into it there’s a deep and rewarding RPG experience to be had here offering quite a lot of variety.

Score: 8

  • An abundance of classes to choose from, each with their own style of play
  • Plenty of roguelike risk and reward opportunities that you’ll need to weigh carefully as you go
  • Progression in the form of building fame for your guild helps to allow you to tune the gameplay more to your liking and benefit

  • For people who aren’t into turn-based combat and deck-building it probably won’t change your mind
  • Early on if you don’t latch on to the game’s systems and intricacies, and fail to make sound choices with your deck or classes, it may be intimidating and/or frustrating
  • Not all classes are created equally so if you prefer one that tends to be weaker it may be aggravating