Monster Hunter Stories

Review: Monster Hunter Stories

I’m one of those gamers that don’t play any Monster Hunter games. Not for a lack of trying, either, because I’ve tried to play a handful of titles since the series launch. I like the ideas behind the series and respect them for what they are, but I don’t enjoy the gameplay as much as I should.

Monster Hunter is huge in Japan, but it is a niche series with a very faithful following that’s seemingly only gotten bigger over the years. Monster Hunter Stories is a completely different approach for the series, embracing an anime art style and trading a real-time combat system for a traditional turn-based combat system, with Pokemon inspirations thrown into the mix, too. There are also lengthy animated cutscenes and a cohesive story, too.

Monster Hunter Stories is a brilliant spin-off

You play as Lute, a wannabe Rider, someone who hatches and raises dinosaurs and believes in raising and bonding with their dinosaurs. Monster Hunter Stories begins in a village where three friends have snuck out into the wild to find monster eggs because they are young and incapable of partaking in the Ritual of Kinship, a rite that pairs them with a dinosaur. Using a Kinstone allows our young hunters to befriend and bond with new monsters, which is the key to gaining more monsters throughout the game. Upon being successful and returning to the village, they see everyone under attack due to a danger called The Black Blight and their homes destroyed.

This leads the series into its main storyline and what makes Lute leave his village to embark on the world, to face the evil that destroyed his home. Sometimes, the story felt contrived, but the colourful locales and a fascinating landscape full of bizarre monsters more than made up for the weaker story that’s been done to death before.

The biggest departure for the series is the battle system, which is now a traditional turn-based system. Gone is the need to equip your hunter with the best gear to venture out into the wild; gone is the need to battle massive monsters that take hours to best; instead, you’re put into a turn-based system that’s fun to play, the main draw is being able to catch and collect monsters, but to do that you’ll need to battle it out in a rock-paper-scissors fashion. But, choosing either Power, Technical or Speed attacks all comes down to how your opponent will choose to react, and for a while, it’s a fun system that changes hours when you’ve spent hours playing. It can get a bit grind-y for my liking, but with some refinement, I can see this battle system being even better if we see a sequel later.

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Stories have two additional modes, local and online multiplayer, available. Rider Arena is a great place to face opponents and show your team off; there is also Tournament mode, which is a knock-out stage format I couldn’t get enough of, and many of these modes give out rewards that help.

The visuals of Monster Hunter Stories are a massive departure from the series, featuring anime-inspired designs and using bright and colourful visuals instead of realistic graphics. Monster Hunter Stories is a remake of a 3DS title so while there are moments where Stories looks great, it has moments where it looks underwhelming. The same can be said for the audio as it overall sounds fine but it stumbles because it doesn’t sound as great as the sequel, Monster Hunter Stories 2 ends up sounding like.

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Verdict

Monster Hunter Stories is a great addition to the series and a good place to start with Monster Hunter. It isn’t however, like any other game in the series, so go in with this piece of information, and if you like how well Stories plays, check out the rest of the series, it just might something you’re in to. The graphics, the combat system, the monster collecting, it’s all here and these systems play well, it also features some great usage of 3D, and a colorful world full of monsters that need to be raised by you.

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PC

Monster Hunter Stories
Review: Monster Hunter Stories
Summary
Monster Hunter Stories is a great addition to the series and a good place to start with Monster Hunter.
Liked
A cute, enjoyable story
Great combat mechanics
Decent visual and audio upgrades
Didn't Like
Can look dated at times despite upgrades