Monster Loves You! It's not just the latest title from Dejobaan Games, it's the truth, and this fanged-yet-fuzzy indie story-based choose-your-own-adventure style simulation is icky, weird, funny, and even sweet in the best possible ways. You are a monster growing up in the village of Omen, resentful and maybe even a little afraid of the Humans who killed your parents and continue to grow closer and closer to your home. Whether you grow up to be feared and reviled or loved and respected by either community is entirely up to you as your actions shape the world around you. Or you could just devote your time to gobbling frogs, becoming a neurosurgeon, and eating lichen. It's up to you. (iOS release coming soon!)
The game is sort of like a text adventure meets visual novel, presenting you with a myriad of choices to choose from in each situation that have an impact on your tender monster psyche and livelihood. Your monstrous life is divided up into stages, from puny morsel swimming in a vat of goop, to respectable adult monsterhood, and beyond. Each stage has a set amount of days to it, as shown in the upper left corner, and each action/adventure you decide to undertake costs you one day. Since you can't save and reload games to undo bad decisions, only being able to continue where you left off or reset your progress, think carefully about the things you do. You never know whether you might be biting off more than you can chew, or if a good chomping might actually just be what the situation calls for!
At the bottom of the screen at your attributes, from bravery to kindness, and the choices you make can cause these to go up or down depending on the outcome. They're important, since certain choices are only available if any given attribute is especially high, but also in unlocking certain paths and endings! Equally as important, however, is Respect, a statistic that will rise or fall depending on how you act and impacts not only how other monsters treat you and if they listen to you, but also whether you can continue on to become an Elder. Once you do, then you'll finally be able to influence Human and monster society through your actions. If you fail to gain enough respect to become an Elder, well, there's always next time, and your rotting body will return to the pit from where its slime will spawn the next generation of monsters. It's like the circle of life, really. A great big, disgusting, fluid-filled circle of life.
Analysis: If it weren't for a whole lot of talk of twisting heads of, chowing down on corpses, and other wholesome activities, Monster Loves You! would be about the perfect casual text adventure for any age, but while it might be a bit too icky for some parents, the rest of us will probably find it just right. Though more than a little confusing at first blush, the more you play the more the story reveals a surprisingly rich world, with intriguing monster customs and scenarios you'll never see coming. Though some players with top-hats and monocles might find the light-hearted tone and lack of real gameplay depth, it's an excellent choice for just sinking into whenever you have spare time. It feels like a simplified choice of games title, focusing on whimsical world-building and player amusement more than any real concrete plot.
The fact that you get no descriptive text or real indication of what an adventure is before you choose it is annoying, however, especially since many icons are reused. The endings also tend to feel a little abrupt after all the work you might put into developing a monster, and some more defined characters might have added a thread of consistency throughout to care about. Despite that, however, Monster Loves You! is the sort of vibrant, surprisingly engaging adventure that's hard to put down, with all the natural cadence of a good fairytale. What will you make of your life? Will you become the sort of terror little kids have nightmares about, something even Red Riding Hood's Big Bad Wolf fears? Or will you unite Human and monsterkind together in harmony... or maybe become a skilled neurosurgeon in Human society, forever forced to conceal your true identity? The choices are yours, and they've rarely been so breezily fun and enjoyable.
Get the full version (Steam)