Unlike other reviewed games from me this year so far, I had no real set expectations of Meg’s Monster from developer and publisher, Odencat. When I jumped into the game I came out pleasantly surprised by how much heart, humour and humanity, there is in a game from the perspective of a monster. While marketed as an adventure RPG, the scale of Meg’s Monster is more on the lighter side as the game feels more like a visual novel adventure that has lite RPG and puzzle elements. This doesn’t make it an overly long game that you could probably beat in two sittings at best as Meg’s Monster doesn’t overstay its welcome too long as it took me not even five hours to beat the game. Meg’s Monster felt very much like a cross between Eathbound in its visual art style and the introductory turn-based RPG gameplay of Pokémon all in a story that felt like a video game reinterpretation of Monster Inc. in its narrative.
Girl Meets Underworld
The story of Meg’s Monster kicks off with Meg, a young child that wakes up somewhere completely unknown to her where trash is littered everywhere. This small secluded place is just a small part of the underworld which is not the one you’re thinking of but is instead a settlement made up of mutants and monsters located in a massively deep hole in the Earth that’s used more or less as a dumping ground. Meg gets up and starts looking around for her mother, not too long after she runs into two monsters. The first one is the game’s titular monster – a light blue hulk-like creature with a large lobster claw for an arm and is known simply as Roy, he has no interest in children or snacking on them and only eats waste known as magic tar, unlike other monsters.
Next to him is a smaller green monster and Roy’s best friend, Golan who has his own secrets unknown to Roy, seeing Meg Golan is more than happy to take a bite out of Meg. Just before Golan attempts to fill his stomach up, Roy discovers something terrifying about the human child – whenever Meg cries everything goes red like the world is about to end and both quickly try to calm her down. This leads both monsters on a journey to the surface to reunite Meg with her mother all the while other hungry monsters try to eat her. The whole game is the basic story of a girl and her monster that may seem predictable from the outset but honestly, Meg’s Monster is a pretty wholesome story with a couple of surprises that create a blossoming friendship between Meg and Roy (at times Golan too) which felt comparable to Sully and Boo’s relationship in Pixar’s Monster Inc.
Earthbound Visuals + Pokémon-lite Gameplay
Little by little Roy learns what it means to be human from Meg as he goes through the tribulations of taking care of Meg throughout the game which doesn’t just impact Roy but his lonely empty cave-like home which begins to fill out over time; this really is hammered home during the ending of the game. It won’t be an easy journey though as our party will face opposition from antagonist forces in the form of hungry monsters, the underworld’s high council, and the true puppet master behind everything who wasn’t very inspired and felt evil for the sake of being evil.
When you actually get into gameplay, you’ll easily see that there isn’t much of a level progression system as Roy starts out with a huge amount of 99,999 HP right out the gate in the very first battle, I guess that’s what happens when you eat only magic tar all your life. That doesn’t mean the game will be an easy ride as Meg will be behind you in the Pokémon-like battles of Meg’s Monster with her own much smaller ‘heart’ bar that goes down as she sees Roy gets hurt. A couple of hits will bring her down to zero and unleashes the apocalypse, to avoid that you can sacrifice a turn to give her a toy to replenish her heart points.
No Random Encounters, Every Battle Matters
As you go through Meg’s Monster, you’ll pick up brand-new toys in cut scenes that offer greater effects like more health to Meg or a short-term stat boost for offence/defence. You can battle enemies with a simple attack that does the job in the early game but the difficulty does ramp up as enemies become meaty sponges which will force Roy to learn new powerful versions of the basic attack. Additionally, after each battle, you also gain extra stats including increasing Meg’s heart points. Those added stats definitely help in some of the end-game battles which do add a puzzle game aspect like Simon Says, Three-card Monte, and more to boss battles making it more tedious and honestly of a chore to get through. Unlike other RPGs, there are no random encounters as each you get into are required to progress the narrative.
That doesn’t necessarily mean there is no side content as you go through the selectable 8-bit map, you can select the red main quest markers but at times green ones will pop up. Those ones are optional scenes that are used to give the player more context on the story with no added gameplay. In my opinion, these scenes are absolutely necessary to get a better understanding of the story of Meg’s Monster, especially for one character whose true origin is revealed in an unexpected multiverse way that I was legit shocked with as it really gives you an actual reason behind their actual motives which leads beautifully into the final moments of Meg’s Monster.
Meg’s Monster’s Music Though… *Chef Kiss*
To me, the bit-style Earthbound visuals really make Meg’s Monster stand out as the developer really tries to invoke the style of past games as they really do wear their inspiration on their sleeve by making the whole game feel like a familiar experience in not just style but in its Pokémon-like Gameplay. What separates it from other 8 to 32-bit style-inspired games in my mind is definitely the main theme of Meg’s Monster that’s fantastically performed/written by Laura Shigihara of Deltarune fame which is only a portion of the game’s overall soundtrack produced by Monster Hunter composer, Reo Uratani who did a fantastic job which at times gave me chills throughout the game.
Meg’s Monster is a good narrative adventure with a fantastic soundtrack that is able to tell a heartwarming story from the perspective of a monster who slowly learns how to be human through interactions and a growing friendship with a little girl that’s all about the journey rather than the almost sad ending which still has some surprises along the way. The game doesn’t overstay its welcome too long as it takes no longer than five hours to complete the game that’s reminiscent visually of Earthbound in art style and gameplay of Pokémon. The relationship between Meg and her monster, Roy will keep you coming back as the story was quite a sweet wholesome time, so much it’s reminiscent of Pixar’s Monster Inc. but with more dialogue between the two. While marketed as an RPG, it shouldn’t be mistaken for one as the systems of that genre is very light in contrast as there really is no levelling up let alone a traditional RPG menu to be found in the game. However, after each battle, the player does gain bonus stats to help in the game’s latter boss battle which I found annoying.
[A copy of the game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch