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.
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.