Your first thoughts on seeing Monster Harvest will undoubtedly be its clear Stardew Valley meets Pokémon inspirations and while that comparison is not wrong, it's actually more like Digimon in its execution. Monster Harvest is the latest addition to the farming/life simulator genre with the gimmick of making your crops become monsters who will fight for you. So move into your Uncle's farm, grow some Planimals, make the occasional friend and discover what Slime Corp. is up to in Planimal Point.
Monster Harvest is one of those games that really excels with its access to the portable nature of the Nintendo Switch and is a perfect fit for the system in both its visual design and family friendly gameplay loop. It’s good to just be able to pick this up when you have a bit of free time to kill and then put it down when you’re busy again with no real concern with causing any issues with the game. This is helped with the day night cycle being functionally static as you move around the world. The only way to trigger the change of time is to fall asleep in your bed to recover a sliver of energy and start more work in the evening.
If you die in the dungeons, there is no negative penalty, just the ever looming presence of death that hangs over the very short lived Planimals with some cases of them not even surviving a single day. So you don't lose any items or gold when you blackout, which allows players to get a bit more risky with their gameplay as there is no negative effect.
- Perfect fit for the switch
- No time restrictions
- No penalty for losing
The main draw of your monster collecting games is the monsters themselves and building bonds with them as they become part of your team and help you along your journey. However, this doesn't translate over to Monster Harvest as your Planimals are functionally disposable and actually more beneficial to you dead in the long run. This is due to the fact that to increase your soil quality and thus, the base level a Planimal is harvested at, requires the essence of a dead Planimal. So while it's a mechanic that makes you feel like you're always making progress and prevents grinding up levels, in practice, it actually manages to avoid the appeal of the genre.
Monster Harvest at its core has one major problem that can't be fixed without a complete overhaul of the game, and that's the fact that it lacks its own identity as a game. To put this briefly, this game was clearly inspired by Stardew Valley, which itself isn't a bad thing but when you have direct references between the two, it's difficult to not think this is Stardew Valley with a gimmick. A clear example of this is the evil corporation Slime Corp making direct comparison with Joja Mart as an untrusted entity in the town who are situated out on the cusp of it.
Navigating through the menus on the game feels rough as the panel selected moves faster than it should, especially with the analogue stick - I found myself using the D-Pad to select things easier. This is not improved when trying to sell things either as you must initially select the item and then move it to the sell box, place it and then move to the next item you want to sell and repeat - it’s really tedious. That's not to mention that when trying to access sections in the menu (like the calendar), I could not look at the details due to the cursor not leaving the item selection menu
- No real bond with the monsters
- Lacks of identity
- Awkward UI
Final Score: 6/10
Ultimately, Monster Harvest isn't a bad game, it's just that in a genre that's been flooded with more and more titles thanks to the resurgence of farming/life sims, you are expected to do something to stand out that's not just a gimmick on the pre-existing formula. That being said, Monster Harvest is a fun game to explore if you enjoy the genre and are looking for a bit more of a casual experience and no time pressure of trying to get everything done within a day. You can pick up the game and enjoy growing the planimals on the go if you want a different take on the farming/life simulation genre as there is still an enjoyable game here.
Thanks you for checking out our Monster Harvest switch review, thank you to Merge Games (via Terminals.io) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: