There’s a certain thrill to choose your own adventures. Especially as a child with a special edition Goosebumps book in hand at the wee hours of night. Deciding on ways to try and survive as a character in the famous horror series, although it was just a guessing game of what path the author made the “right” one, brought a certain dread to the everyday activity of reading. So I understand the fun that could be gained from nothing more than reading and having a choice to form your own story. Monster Loves You! brings that into video game form with mildly successful results. It can be full of charm one moment and full of repetition in another. Basic things when considering what you have to go through when beginning a new choose your own adventure life.
Monster Loves You! is all about being born as a storybook creature and living your life in a world full of your kind, humans, and other magical entities. Each playthrough gives you a new monster to dictate throughout child birth, childhood, adulthood, even more adulthood, and inevitably death. As you’d expect, the plot itself can take a few different directions in terms of tone, setup, and ending. You can be a nice and caring monster, a mean and lying creature, an ask questions later and rude being, or anything in between. Your decisions will have a minor effect on the story, your attributes, and important, albeit meaningless, abilities to help you out. Most of it will deal with how you handle situations across a typical lifespan. At least for a monster.
The story itself is uniquely written and sits around the complexity of adults and the creativeness of children. There will be moments were you’ll be a little sad or joyous, depending on your personality. The choose your own adventure structure offered a little more than five ways to proceed around. Your favorite option wouldn’t always be available, but it is incredibly easy to be things like selfish, caring, or straight out evil. Most of all there is a sense of charm with the world that is createed through your imagination. The developers will tease you when you do something ridiculous or even throw in some classic fairy tale creatures and legends into the mix.
The gameplay is literally like reading a book with images. Instructions and the tale before you appear in text boxes. Once you finish reading and choosing a reaction option, if available, the screen scrolls over to the next box that’s apart of the event. Whoever is speaking or the topic of discussion will usually appear alongside this in picture form. Occasionally, some of the events will take place in a different environment and the background will change accordingly. The same can be said with the music. It will be happy, fearful, or sad as it needs to be in order to portray what’s happening in the small, still images and text boxes.
My very first playthrough lasted about an hour from start to finish. I read every line of text and decision before making any of my selections. I grew to care about what I was going for and those around me. Even if I couldn’t put other monster’s names to their faces. Then my second playthrough, in which I went the completely evil route, lasted about thirty minutes. I skimmed over details I already knew which was far too often. There were new occurrences and life events depending on a handful of choices, but they weren’t plentiful at all. By the time I completed the third run (clocking in at fifteen minutes), I felt like I had seen the entire catalog. Naturally, you won’t be able to experience everything in your first few attempts due to time constraints or that path being cut off. Still the feeling of repetition slowly crept over the game in less than two hours. Regardless of what type of monster you wanted to be at any given time.
Usually this is about the time I’d point out the cons to a title. Seeing how the situation is a little bit different with Monster Loves You!, there weren’t really any problems. I mean unless you absolutely hate reading. Which in that case, thanks for contributing to our culture dying a teeny bit. The only real issue I ever had was in the five hours plus territory. I was trying to achieve certain endings for trophies and spammed the X button to get through the meat of the tale. (Takes literal minutes to do this too.) A few times while doing it the game froze and I had no choice but to restart the game. Didn’t really hurt anything considering the length of a lone playthrough though.
You have to understand what you’re getting into with Monster Loves You!. It’s a choose your own adventure novel, just on your television screen. So there will be reading and repetition. Still I can’t shake my enjoyment level on the first couple of playthroughs. It offered cool story content, or at least in my head it did, and some very interesting situations. Only after seeing mostly everything after two hours did I begin to feel the inevitable drag. Then I look at the ten dollar price tag and decide it’s worth it.
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* Reviewed using a base PS4.