Monster Crown brings some darkness and maturity to the Pokémon craze

It’s a great time to be a fan of monster training games. We’ve recently seen the first of two great DLC additions for Pokemon Sword and Shield, Ooblets released into Early Access with plenty of critical praise, and now Monster Crown is set to enter Early Access today. Similar to Pokemon, Monster Crown lets you fight, train and catch your own monsters, albeit with it’s own spin and approach to the concept.

Monster Crown seems pretty similar to Pokemon on the surface, putting players in the shoes of an adolescent who gains the first monster before being sent off on a journey by their parents. Reckless parenting aside, Monster Crown takes this premise and runs with it adding adult themes and an uneasiness to the general vibe.

The game starts with players choosing both the look and pronouns for their characters. It’s genuinely a breath of fresh air to see this kind of inclusivity in games and I’d love to see more of it in the future. With character customisation out of the way, you’re then thrown into its world tasking you with taking your first monster and completing your first battle. So far, so good, although this is where one of Monster Crown’s first major differences appears in the form of its monster type system.

Rather than the elemental types we are commonly used to, Monster Crown uses its own system incorporating five different elements for players to content with. In an extended form of Rock-Paper-Scissors, you have Will, Brute, Malicious, Unstable, Relentless, each of which is has an advantage over one element and a weakness to another.

Honestly, I did not get on with the type system in Monster Crown. I had to take a picture and constantly refer back to it with each battle, subsequently taking me out of the game in order to understand how the game works. While Pokémon is particularly inspired by real world elements, such as water beating fire and fire beating grass, this system feels obtuse and takes time to learn.

This is a problem because Monster Crown quickly ramps up the difficulty. If you haven’t gotten to grips with that system, you are going to struggle early on. I think the types need some added clarity to make their connections more memorable, or there needs to be a little more leniency in the game world.

A little further into the preview Monster Crown also introduces the synergy system. Players are encouraged to swap between monsters in battle in order to gain a damage buff again enemies. Swap enough times and you’ll reach the maximum damage buff, which you can then couple with the type system for even more damage. It’s an interesting idea, but again, it’s one that would likely be a little easier to use if the type system was a little clearer.

Where Monster Crown really sets itself apart from the competition is in the ability to fuse monsters. There are around 200 base monsters in the game, all of which can be fused to create an additional 800 different types, meaning there are all together around a 1,000 different types of monsters. It’s a system that I enjoyed playing with in Persona 5 and I think it works really well within the lore of Monster Crown and it’s gameplay.

While the initial demo shows a lot of promise, it definitely does need some additional polish. The UI isn’t great as it can feel a little cluttered and there are some occasional bugs. With the game entering Early Access today, I have faith that the developers will work on the game alongside the community.

Monster Crown could be something special in the near future. It’s darker themes and complex systems will provide older Pokémon fans with some new and interesting to dive into, it just needs a little more balance and refinement in its current stage. If you are a fan of monster training games, I would definitely consider picking up Monster Crown in Early Access. I know I will be keeping an eye on it in the years to come.

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