To look upon Monstrous, it would be fair to believe you were in for a rampaging war between the mighty myths of ancient Greece. The art is absolutely gorgeous, featuring intense beasts, poised to rain destruction down upon the land, ravaging cities and devastating each other in a literally-titanic melee of –
She’s right, of course – the premise of Monstrous, of the gods charged with terrorizing the populace in an attempt to reignite their failing faith, is unintentionally hilarious because the mechanics of Monstrous are entirely centered around flicking cards onto the play area. Absolutely no seriousness need apply.
Each player in Monstrous will begin with an identical deck of monster cards. A group of cities are laid out on the table/floor/wherever, and you get to flicking. The goal of the game is to be the god who amasses the biggest pile of faith points, which, in typical Olympian fashion, you will accrue by tossing your monsters down onto the populace. For each monster which lands on a city, you will generate Faith, presumably squished out of the civilians your recently-pitched cyclops lands upon.
However, this dexterity game rewards more than just accurate card-tosses – each monster has unique abilities. Trap monsters, for example, have powers that trigger when other monsters land on them. Other monsters might let you draw additional cards to throw, or steal faith from players, or force monsters off the field.
Jess: Like, I’m just imagining someone going to the store to buy a new toga or whatever, only to have a pegasus fall out of the sky and just squash the heck out of the place! Like, we’re bowling with beasts. It’s ridiculous!
And it is. But it’s not the mismatch between the (again, gorgeous) intense artwork and light mechanics that disappoints us about Monstrous. Our complaint about this otherwise fun little game is that it’s somewhat fussier than it needs to be.
Each time you pitch a monster onto the field, you must then assess. Did it land on another monster? Is that monster a trap monster? What does its power do? Did your monster actually make it onto a city? What is your monster’s power, and how might it affect things. What about the city power? Does it change anything. Wait, a monster got removed, what does that mean – do we assess everything all over again? Hang on, which side of the card landed face-up, because they all have different powers.
Andrew: Is it actually complicated? No, not at all. But as I said, it’s just a little fussy, and that’s a shame because the core gameplay mechanism suggests total simplicity, the art suggests epic gameplay, and Monstrous sorta embodies neither of those, and they work against each other.
Which isn’t to say that Monstrous is a bad game – it’s absolutely not that. It just doesn’t quite exist in the ultralight filler dexterity game category, but nor does it go anywhere particularly deep or compelling. It doesn’t take much to make a dexterity game fun, but ‘more rules’ seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Monstrous doesn’t quite snag our recommendation, despite stunning artwork and a good core concept. There’s fun to be found here, but it wasn’t for us.
(Gameosity received a review copy of this title. We were not otherwise compensated.)