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Monster Slayers - Switch Review

While I like to play a variety of games, I tend to stick to what I enjoy such as RPGs and action adventure. Other than the battle royal genre that is relatively new and exploded in popularity, an old but unfamiliar type of game that has been all the rage in the past year or two are games that describe themselves as rogue-like. This review will be for the Nintendo Switch game Monster Slayers that describes itself as “a rogue-like deck-building RPG adventure with an innovative card-based battle system”.

Simply put a rogue-like game is characterized by a dungeon crawl through procedurally generated levels, turn-based gameplay, and permanent death of the character. Some popular games that come to mind that are Spelunky, The Binding of Isaac, and 60 Parsecs I highlighted in a previous post. Of course, a review of Monster Slayers would not be complete without mentioning Slay the Spire, which it resembles the closest.

While they initially feel familiar and playing Slay the Spire after my time with Monster Slayers, I can say that Monster Slayers does enough to distinguish itself and is an enjoyable game for any fan of the roguelike genre. You start with different card decks depending on the character class you choose at the beginning. As you beat enemies you get to pick new cards, upgrade existing ones, or remove cards from your deck. In each dungeon, there is a boss and you complete a run if you beat 3 bosses. While simple the formula is fast paced and addicting. Each time you restart the layout of the dungeon changes and you eventually get a feel for what makes a good deck for the character you are playing. While you start over each game if you are killed, you carry over your progress, with items and total experience, that makes each run feel worthwhile, which I felt was lacking in games like Spelunky.

Unlike Slay the Spire, your battles are only one-on-one and each character has a mana resource to manage along with action points. The battles feel quicker and there are half a dozen characters you can unlock if you successfully “complete” the game with one of the starting classes. The rogue will have you chaining cards one after another relying on draw effects, the barbarian sacrifices health for extra damage, and the mage which has you building up mana to unleash devastating spell. You also have items you can equip on your character that give you defense, additional attack, or special skills that are saved in your inventory even after the death of your character. You also gain access to 2 companion characters that grant special abilities, such as recovering a portion of your health or gaining armor, that help compliments your character, and come in handy during a pinch.

Similar to Slay the Spire after each run you gain experience depending on how far you got, but in this game, you have a massive talent tree that allows you to unlock skills for your companions and upgrades to class cards in future runs. At the time of this review, I got to an overall level of 55. You gain more experience from defeating bosses, and you regularly gain about 1-2 levels per run, so you always feel you are progressing. Which I enjoyed. Each class felt unique, while some classes are easier to get through than others, I found myself playing game after game without realizing hours had gone by.

One flaw that detracted from my experience with Monster Slayers is the frequent slowdowns when encountering enemies, which I hope can be fixed with a patch as it is one of my only major complaints. The game doesn’t feel as polished as Slay the Spire, looking at the animations, backgrounds and familiar artwork used for cards. While the battle layout is straightforward, sometimes the screen can get filled with cards and text that might feel overwhelming for new players. While there are a variety of different effects that can be inflicted to you and your enemies I found that many were very similar, such as ignite, bleed, and repent that do damage at the start of your turn. Without being able to mouse over specific effects, and also during navigating of the dungeons, choosing cards, and companion abilities I felt the controls of the Switch took some time to get used to, especially if you are used to playing physical card games or on the PC.

However, Monster Slayers does introduce enough ideas of its own, and other than just being a fun game to play, that set it apart from other games in the rogue-like genre. My final score for this game is a good score of a B. The game is currently 15 on the Nintendo Eshop, and definitely worth the price and entry point for players new to the rogue-like games.

I hope you all enjoyed this review. Let me know in the comments below with your experience with this game or similar ones. Thanks as always and see you again soon.

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