Monster Prom on PC
We live in an age where dating simulators are plentiful, multifaceted, and, often, bizarre. Whether you’re courting a selection of eligible fathers looking for love, handsome warlords from a bygone dynasty, or a real horse, there really is something for everyone, and it can be difficult for just one entrance to stand out from the crowd.
In the case of Monster Prom from Spanish indie developer Beautiful Glitch, the main quirks are: you’re trying to find a monster to take to the ball, which is a great start, and it can be played by up to four people at the once – and that’s where it really makes its mark.
You play the role of a student at Spooky High School. Prom is only a few weeks away, but you still don’t have a date and your eyes are on one of six potential candidates for your affection. Your goal is to seduce them before it’s too late, by applying the charms you think would be most likely to please them. By answering a series of trivial questions at the start, your character is assigned personality stats that measure their boldness, creativity, intelligence and more – knowing what would be the best fit for your desired love interest can prove crucial. for your success.
Throughout the day, you choose which of the school buildings to venture into, which will lead to discussions with the datable monsters, as well as a few other binary characters. Depending on how you react to each situation, your stats will be adjusted accordingly. While you can usually tailor your responses based on the monster you hope to land, strictly following this rule to the letter can sometimes backfire, as certain choices will result in lower stats. It might feel random at times and you might feel punished for reasons beyond your control, but the quality of the writing makes even those setbacks enjoyable. More on that in a moment.
To help structure the proceedings, there is a pop-up store run by a disinterested feline creature that will frequently appear on the map. If you have the money, going through his store can increase your chances of success, or even trigger specific events that aren’t available otherwise – though this comes at the cost of an opportunity to boost your stats. Plus, you’ll visit the cafeteria each day, giving you a visual idea of who’s seated at each table. Trying to seduce Liam? Sit next to him and say something smug. He’ll probably like it.
The most immediate thing that jumps out at you right off the bat is that this game has a sense of style that’s downright infectious. The art style is quirky, the character designs brimming with life, and the soundtrack, riddled with guitar twangs evoking memories of ’60s surf culture, serves as a surprisingly appropriate undercurrent to the proceedings. You can choose the length of your gaming session – the short option lasts an average of 30 minutes for a single player, while the longest should take around an hour. There is no substantial difference between the options; choosing the longer one simply gives you more in-game days to continue your monster date. With four players, the estimated time is two hours – although with more people around the computer, you’re less likely to read all the text carefully and think carefully about your decisions.
On that note, the way multiplayer gameplay has been taken care of is creative and fun. Whoever has the first round can freely choose which room they want to enter or which table to sit at during cafeteria rounds. This leaves fewer options for the last person, so it’s always desirable to be first. After each round, a question is asked about a theoretical scenario, and the players decide which is the best answer, thus dictating the order in which the players will go next. It’s a fun twist that puts the blame on people, allowing them to not only enjoy the game, but also have nonsensical debates among themselves. Theoretically, if you noticed that one of the other players is attacking the monster you want, you can just up-vote their response each time, so if you can’t play nice, you can just let the game choose your command at coincidence.
Once you reach the end of the final week, you’ll need to muster up the courage to invite a monster to the ball with you. Depending on your decisions throughout the game, they will either agree to join you or reject you outright, leaving you in abject misery. Then the credits roll and it’s all over. You can unlock new items that will add additional decisions to your repertoire for the next session, and start fresh. In this way, the game deviates from the typical dating sim formula: you’re not trying to build a relationship here, there won’t be any handshakes or facial stroking afterwards. Either you win or you lose, then you start over.
In that sense, Monster Prom may be more appealing to those after a board game, rather than a traditional dating sim. You’re not supposed to like these characters, and you won’t become emotionally attached to them. They are just fun, wittily written skeins meant to serve a simple purpose. Which is a shame, because they’re all extremely friendly.
Each of the characters just exudes charisma, and watching them bounce off each other is a delight. As your intentions towards a particular monster become clearer, the game intuitively makes it more likely that it will cross your path each time you choose a piece. Somewhat disappointingly, the venues themselves will still have the single premise assigned to them: hanging out outside results in a rave, while a perpetual dodgeball game takes place in the auditorium. There will be minor detail changes here and there, but a bit more variety in activities would have been appreciated.
The only major problem with Monster Prom is that the nature of its design can make it a double-edged sword. As this is a fast-paced shooter that can be played for about an hour at a time, there is a level of repetition: pick a room, chat, pick a seat in the cafeteria, chat. There are weekend events where you can help or hinder other players, but they’re based on the same unique decision-making concept. And more often than not, you’ll likely pick the one that best suits your desired monster, potential misfires are damned.
If you play it long enough, you might end up repeating scenarios you had in the last session, especially if you try to chase the same ghoul a second time. Not only does this lessen the challenge of trying to make the best decision, but it robs you of experiencing new dialogue – it cannot be overstated how enjoyable the writing is, with its satirical and cynical views, and his frequent rudeness. That’s not to say there isn’t a generous amount of content (388 unique events, according to the progress screen), but it’s simply the nature of the beast that a full multiplayer session can gobble up a tenth of what is on offer.
Ultimately, such weaknesses should be expected for a game that is not intended for an extended marathon. You’re supposed to take Monster Prom, try a new target, try new decisions or events, and then leave. Writing can make staying longer appealing, but it dries up the well – and what’s there is absolutely wonderful and worth preserving. Because of this, it does a little better as a multiplayer game than it did in single-player, a standalone entry into a genre not known to cater to this demographic. For the Casanova alone, it’s still worth a try, as long as you’re aware of its limitations.
Rating: 4/5 – Excellent
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