Very few retro-style RPGs actually feel authentic so here's Monster Viator; an RPG that'll surely take you back to the past.
Monster Viator tells the story of Culter who possesses the ability to talk with monsters. Of course, he has amnesia, too. Anyway, you begin the adventure by controlling him as his monster pals act on their own but you soon meet Aira who's a harpist that can tame monsters with her music. From then on, you control both human characters as well as a couple of monster companions in battle.
As you progress through the story, you'll meet chums such as the obnoxious Prince Biscute but the most surprising moment for me was learning about the monsters that join you on your journey. They range from silly creatures to beasts that have tragic back-stories which make them feel humanlike. I must say that although the plot and dialogue are intriguing and original, some of the story sequences go on for too long and I found myself becoming impatient at times, especially because it's strictly told via artless speech bubbles.
Monster Viator simply looks and sounds great. Its visuals are highly reminiscent of the late 16-bit / early PS1 era of 2D RPGs with pixel-perfect colourful graphics. Plus, the monster designs are awesome so the fact that you can recruit over 20 of them is made even sweeter. Meanwhile, the effects are gratifying and the music is very mid-'90s with a rocking battle theme, dungeon tunes that range from ambient to catchy, and many more impressive compositions. I wasn't expecting Monster Viator to look and sound this good.
The core gameplay involves traversing dungeons, towns, and the world map while battling foes and customizing your party in between. One aspect that's awesome is that you can do a lot of party configuration as well as save your progress whenever you want. This is one modernization facet that I can definitely get behind. Anyway, the battle system is extremely simple yet rewarding at the same time. All you essentially do is select Attack or various Skills for each character. You can also check enemy attributes, run, and defend as well as toggle various speeds and auto-play options to help streamline less strategic battles. It's great that such niceties are implemented.
Progressing your characters in Monster Viator involves many elements. Aside from merely levelling up and purchasing new equipment at towns, you can also Strengthen gear with money, equip found Carmina which provide boosts, and change out monsters with newly found ones. However, the most interesting way to provide your party with boosts is by discovering Treasure which can be found in many nooks and crannies. Simply possessing such treasure can increase your max HP, earned EXP, and even item drop rates.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Monster Viator and it made me nostalgic for '90s RPGs, there are a few downsides. For starters, because it's so heavily inspired by classic RPGs, it may be a tad too simple for many modern gamers whose expectations likely won't match what Monster Viator has to offer. For example, if you don't enjoy mindlessly beating on regular enemies as you work your way from point A to point B, you might get a little bored from time to time. Finally, I found the overall challenge to be rather hit and miss. Specifically, regular encounters are frequently far too easy while boss fights and subduing quests can be exceptionally difficult.
If you have a fondness for RPGs from the mid-'90s then I encourage you to give Monster Viator a try. Its wonderful retro aesthetic and rewarding gameplay loop are sure to entertain while providing a healthy dose of nostalgia, too.
- + Spot-on old-school RPG aesthetic with pixel-perfect visuals and great music
- + Rewarding yet simple battle system
- + Fun party progression and collectibles
- - May be a bit too simplistic for modern expectations
- - Story segments are often drawn-out
- - Balancing feels off from time to time