As a puzzle game enthusiast, I love when developers try something new so here's the delightful open-world A Monster's Expedition.
A Monster's Expedition has you play as a monster with a backpack who explores a series of islands while discovering tidbits about humankind via speculative exhibitions that are scattered around the game world. This story makes one wonder if humanity is extinct whenever this adventure takes place yet A Monster's Expedition is anything but bleak with its lovely 3D visuals and top-notch sense of humour. Its graphics make everything look like a watercolour painting which is quite fetching indeed and the humour on display essentially mocks how ridiculous people are. For example, you'll come across exhibitions like cubecumbers which was people's attempt to make cucumbers easier to store and a deluxe birdbath which was the result of neighbours trying to upstage each other. It's very silly stuff.
On top of the humour and graphics being right up my alley, I also appreciated A Monster's Expedition's open-world approach which allows you to explore the game world at your leisure via the islands' many branching paths. Plus, the abilities to view the overworld map and warp between mailboxes make uncovering the entire world and discovering new locales as streamlined as possible. 📮
Wait; I haven't even mentioned the core gameplay yet so let's get to it! A Monster's Expedition has you control a monster on grid-based islands and you have the ability to push trees over which you can then flip, slide, and roll around. Why would you do this? Well, to make it to another island, you'll need to build bridges and every once in a while, a raft. Meanwhile, there are intricacies involved such as how combining 2 trees creates a raft, you need to push yourself from a rock to use a raft, logs will roll as far as they can, and some trees are 2 tiles tall which opens another dimension to puzzle-solving. Needless to say, considering all of the rules while experimenting is great fun.
I absolutely loved how all of these elements work together and the fact that you can reset an island or undo previous moves by the tap of a button allows you to experiment as freely as you want. With that being said, I sometimes came across particularly tricky islands that took me forever to figure out so after exploring the surrounding area, it became a bit annoying when I realised that all of the islands funneled to the one that I was stuck at. This happened multiple times and was kind of frustrating whenever it did.
My only other complaint is that after solving dozens upon dozens of islands, I kind of wished there were more elements to create some welcome complexity. As it is, there's enough to keep you entertained for an hour or two but it all kind of becomes repetitious after a while. If there were bonus islands that played with the gameplay in interesting ways, that would have broken things up a bit.
If you're looking for a chill albeit tricky puzzler with an excellent sense of humour then I highly recommend playing A Monster's Expedition. Its blend of exploration and clever puzzles makes for one stand-out tree-toppling experience.
- + Excellent puzzle gameplay that manages to be both laidback and challenging
- + Lovely watercolour graphical aesthetic
- + Great sense of humour and exploration
- - Puzzles eventually feel like they could use additional complexity
- - Hitting dead ends can be annoying