Monster Sanctuary is a metroidvania mixed with RPG combat and other elements to shake up the formula a bit. Taking inspiration from the creature collection sub-genre of turn based RPGs like Pokemon and Digimon, Monster Sanctuary makes good use of a wide variety of monsters while keeping it somewhat fresh. Unfortunately though, not everything is perfect and there are a few issues that holds the game back from feeling like a true gem.

Gameplay

Monster Sanctuary features a core gameplay loop that replicates RPGs as you battle monsters regularly in turn-based combat and the metroidvania aspect fuctions as the game’s exploration. The game is well developed and makes good use of both genres that it is taking inspiration from, with treasure chests hidden around the world that can only be reached by making use of your monsters’ abilities. These abilities are set to each monster and allow the player to hover for a short period of time, activate numerous switches, break walls covering hidden paths and move large rocks.

The way to recruit monsters is through battle, where there is a chance an egg will drop that will give you one of the specific monsters you just defeated. There is a way to increase the chance of an egg dropping and this is achieved by receiving a higher rating in battles. This is where I feel the game has a few flaws, due to repeatedly having to do battles which drag on for quite a bit. This is due to combat always being 3v3 and the best I could get a round of combat finished was in two turns by chance. Add in that levelling your monsters takes several combat encounters, you end up being required to constantly battle enemies.

But if you enjoy a slower, more methodical battle system, there is a pretty in-depth combat system with lots of buffs, both passive and active as well as debuffs that can be triggered in a variety of ways. Combat truly shines in the monster keeper battles which are all 6v6 and require more strategy and smart use of your monsters abilities to come out on top. The are also champion monster battles that are a 3v1 with a much stronger monster that’ll hit several times on its turn of combat.

World / Level Design

The sanctuary of the game’s namesake is a manufactured place that is set up to give monsters a place to live safely and where the monster keepers raise their pets. The sanctuary is divided up into different regions from cave systems, snowy mountains and lush green forests with an underground tunnel system created by mole monsters. Each area feels unique in their design and provides a slightly increasing challenge as you progress through the sanctuary.

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Story / Personality

You start off the game inheriting your family’s Spectral Monster which is an immortal monster that has helped your family across the centuries with your choice of four as a player. As you start to make a name for yourself as a monster keeper, you discover a plot that will shake up the established purpose of the sanctuary. It’s an intriguing story that slowly pieces the puzzle together as you progress through the game, keeping things interesting instead of just grinding your way through.

Graphics / Art Direction

Choosing the classic sprite/pixel look that is abundant in the indie scene, Monster Sanctuary makes the most of it with animated sprites and a wide variety of expansive levels. Each level has its own defined colour that is prevalent among the whole area, making it easier to tell the difference between them. The creatures of Monster Sanctuary are well designed and have primarily taken inspiration from real life animals and plants.

Music / Sound Design

Monster Sanctuary Goes with a peaceful soundtrack during the exploration of the Sanctuary that will change up slightly to fit more thematically with the surrounding area. A good example of this is the snowy area that has wind chimes and a wintery feel that could easily fit a christmas album. I pleasantly enjoyed the ambient music that played throughout the game and will come back to play it just to chill to the tunes.

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Final Score: 85%

Monster Sanctuary is a well made mix of creature capturing games and metroidvanias, suitable for a fan of either genre. Full of interesting monster designs and peaceful music that really sets the mood for the area, Monster Sanctuary is able to effectively draw players into their world. However, what holds it back from being an unforgettable masterpiece is the issue with battles that can feel like a drag whilst levelling up can feel a bit few and far between due to the lengthy battles.

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