Monster Hunter Stories Review – A Boring Bedtime Story
The world of Monster Hunter is ripe for expansion, and Monster Hunter Stories proves it. In the past we’ve been restricted to taking down the massive beasts and using their skin and bones in order to fashion ourselves some new clothes and more weapons to collect more skin and bones – but Monster Hunter Stories takes a different approach – in fact, despite the title, you won’t be doing much hunting at all.
In Monster Hunter Stories you jump into the shoes of a Rider who – yes – rides monsters instead of hunting them. This small village nestled into a hidden corner of the Monster Hunter world has been living in harmony with monsters for ages, and they reject the ways of the hunters filling the rest of the world, isolating themselves and following their own way of life. It’s a nice concept, and to keep with the theme of this new friendly approach to nature, the world and the way you interact with it has changed too.
The new, more lighthearted theme of the game is married with a fantastic cel-shaded art style which just might be the best Monster Hunter has ever looked. Honestly, the presentation of Monster Hunter Stories can’t be praised enough – character models look sharp and well animated, cutscenes are vibrant, colors pop, and even the new cel-shaded designs of monsters look wonderful and whimsical. The art style might just be the most endearing part of the whole game – even if the wide open areas outside of the village don’t look quite as detailed and enchanting.
But of course it’s not just the art style that’s had an overhaul, you’ll need to work with your monster pals now to do battle. Your monster besties (literally referred to in-game as Monsties) can fight alongside you – they act pretty much independently, doing damage alongside you. While battling you can raise your Kinship with your Monstie, which will allow you to ride your pal (you are a Rider, after all) and unleash a strong attack upon your enemies – but of course, all of this is only as good as the battle system. Which is not good.
In Japan, Janken is a big thing – there’s huge televised tournaments for it taking place in massive arenas with fantastic prizes on the line – but here, the thought of a massive tournament for Rock, Paper, Scissors is a bit bewildering. Which is why, in Japan at least, the concept of a battle system that hinges solely on Rock, Paper, Scissors makes sense, but here? It’s tedious. It’s boring. It’s frustrating. All of the battles – all of them – boil down to you selecting the move that’ll beat out your opponent’s. Power moves beat Technical moves, Technical moves beat Speed moves and Speed moves beat Power moves. That’s it. That’s all of your offensive moves and all of the strategy attached to them laid out in a single sentence.
Sure, it gets deeper. Successfully picking moves that beat out your opponents will raise the Kinship you have with your Monstie, eventually allowing you to Ride On and unleash a special move – but every battle essentially just leads up to this one special attack – if you can even manage to charge it – and to say that battles get repetitive is a serious understatement.
In order to change things up, you’ve really got to get more Monsties. They all have unique abilities and one of the most engaging parts of the game is collecting and raising your Monsties. You can collect more and more creatures by stealing Monster Eggs from Monster Dens, and taking the eggs away to hatch them. Thankfully, Monsties don’t have to jump into battle to gain experience, and swapping your Monstie for another in battle won’t cost you your turn – phew!
But still, one frustrating thing about Monster Hunter Stories is that it is quite obviously not aimed for more experienced Monster Hunter fans – this game is, frankly, aimed at children. The whole game feels like Yokai Watch or Pokémon, but easier – the gameplay isn’t based around long fights with terrifying creatures, instead it’s about Janken. Heck, even losing all of your health doesn’t kill you, and instead just takes away one of three hearts and fills your health right back up.
Monster Hunter Stories isn’t bad, but it’s devastatingly tedious. You’ll be battling a lot, and it’ll never get any better, you’ll be playing Rock, Paper, Scissors until the end. The lack of depth is disappointing, especially when the presentation is of such a high quality – but ultimately, Monster Hunter Stories is aimed at kids, not Monster Hunter fans, and kids are sure to enjoy it.
Review code provided by the publisher. You can buy the game on Amazon.
Amazing art style, tedious battle system and a difficulty that's aimed at young children - not one for Monster Hunter fans, but maybe their kids. If they like Rock, Paper, Scissors, that is.
- Beautiful art style
- Loads of Monsties to collect
- Nice wide open areas
- Framerate is inconsistent
- Rock, Paper, Scissors
- Far too easy