When you create a franchise as successful as the Pokemon series it’s inevitable that there will be a long line of imitators. Developers from indies all the way to publishers have taken a crack at the formula with varied success but in broad terms to this point it has been notable how little variation there has been in the bulk of attempts. Where Monster Sanctuary first and most notably succeeds is in changing just enough by moving to combining the tried-and-true monster collection and combat with a Metroidvania-esque hook to its exploration. Perhaps it’s a relatively small change, but for me it provided a different and more engaging sense of exploration to help distract from the pretty well-known grind that you’d typically associate with games in this style. Also worth noting is that once you begin to assemble your team the depth and diversity of your various creatures’ skill trees is pretty impressive and perhaps bordering on overwhelming. You can go wide with many skills to work with, narrow with fewer but more potent skills, or even hyper-focused on one particular tree to make a powerhouse in a specific area. Then, further mixing and matching your team line-up to suit the enemies you’ll face you can really be potent in combat. It by no means reinvents the genre but it shows a depth of effort to break away from what you’d typically expect to deliver a more unique experience.
Justin Nation, Score: