MonsterBag

MonsterBag Review

This backpack is about to go on quite a wild adventure

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PlayStation Vita on

ESRB Teen rating

It's not every day that you get to play as a backpack. In MonsterBag, you indeed control one as you go on a crazy journey to finally reunite with your little girl owner. If that sounds like it's for kids then don't be fooled since much violence and insanity will ensue.

MonsterBag screenshot 1
When you're a scientist, it's easy to get a head

MonsterBag is a difficult game to explain. I think it could be best summarized as part puzzle-solving and part timing. Most levels consist of a line of people, creatures, and objects where you simply tap left and right to make your way between individuals. However, moving isn't as simple as you may think since suspicious and aggravated people have the potential to brutally end your life as soon as you become noticed. To avoid your untimely demise, you must observe people's patterns as their eyes shift back and forth, and advance only when you cannot be seen. The puzzle aspect comes in the form of picking up and using objects as well as pushing buttons and spinning valves in order to contribute to a chain of events that'll eventually allow you to progress to the next level. An example would be throwing a club at a homeless fellow so he can set it aflame via his trashcan fire that you can then pass on to a large man who uses it to slaughter an alien. This is easier said than done since being able to experiment and figure out exactly what to do requires a great deal of trial and error, and above all else; patience.

The entirety of the game is composed of Saturday morning cartoon graphics that are beautifully and seamlessly animated. Each character exudes personality complete with their own non-verbal vocalizations. Environments are rendered in mostly greyscale which makes them generally look the same although distinguishable backdrops and objects provide hints as to where you are. Some sequences quickly devolve into eerie and dark atmospheres yet the overall bright and cheerful vibe ultimately prevails as the main attraction. A fun orchestral score (which sounds fantastic) helps to cohesively tie together the experience. To top the audio off, the effects and vocalizations are satisfying and suit the peculiar world of MonsterBag perfectly.

MonsterBag screenshot 2
That's one messy alien carcass

MonsterBag consists of 18 levels that can be completed in one sitting. Of course, that's assuming you'll know exactly what to do which I doubt that you will. In other words, you'll merely spend the majority of your time experimenting while trying to find out how to progress. If you were to memorize everything and play through a second time, you could probably complete it within an hour. Most of the levels are played almost identically with the odd one featuring some slightly modified gameplay. Such levels have you trying to outrun a monster, defeat bosses, or simply breeze through to watch some story segments. Since these levels are few and far between, you'll find the gameplay to be almost instantly repetitive due to its minimalistic and unvaried approach. That being said, the story takes you to some truly outlandish and memorable places that include a bus accident scene, a military invasion, a post-apocalyptic city, and an alien world. Even if the gameplay becomes monotonous, you may find these crazy moments redeeming enough to persevere.

One thing that annoys me about MonsterBag is that certain segments require more luck than skill. Specifically, you must complete some parts within a time limit which would otherwise be acceptable except for the fact that timing becomes an issue. This happens when two enemies look back and forth in an arrhythmic pattern thus making it take forever before you have the opportunity to advance. As you wait, the time keeps ticking down before you eventually lose only to have to try all over again. Hopefully next time the enemies will be more in-sync, but who knows if they'll be or not? It ends up feeling as tedious as rolling a pair of dice until two sixes appear.

MonsterBag screenshot 3
We have to work together if we want to get through this

MonsterBag is an undeniably adorable yet depraved game that's presented wonderfully. However, the short and repetitive campaign with a handful of intensely irritating segments that'll surely test your patience makes it a difficult game to widely recommend.

  • + Cute yet disturbingly twisted visuals are both charming and humorous
  • + Entertaining audio effects and vocalizations go well with the fun orchestral score
  • - Very minimal and repetitive gameplay
  • - Although it's incredibly short, it often takes forever to figure out what to do
  • - Certain parts require more luck than skill
4.0 out of 10
Official trailer for MonsterBag 1:47

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