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Monster Sanctuary - one of my favourite indie games


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These days there are lots of interesting indie games on sale digitally. One of the real gems I've found is a game called Monster Sanctuary. I didn't expect just how much I would get into this game, so I wanted to tell you about it.

Note: I have no association with the people who made it. I don't make any money if people buy it. I'm just posting this because I enjoy the game.

What is it?

It's a monster-training-battling game, a broad type of game that was obviously made popular by Pokemon. You fight wild monsters and raise your own. You don't catch wild monsters in Monster Sanctuary - sometimes a wild monster will drop an egg which you can hatch into your own monster.

You then use your team of monsters in battles with other trainers, or sometimes against a "champion monster" (basically a normal monster but with super-boosted stats to it can take on your team on its own).

Graphics / presentation

Sadly these are nothing to write home about. The graphics are 2D 16-bit style pixellated, which is a retro style I am very fond of, but in many ways they're just a bit flat and uninspired compared to some other 2D indie games. But...

How is it different from Pokemon?

It's in the battle system where Monster Sanctuary really shines. The game is quite short, but gets tough - and you have to really understand how to get the most from the battle system to complete it (I still haven't finished it).

I love a bit of Pokemon, but the Pokemon games are always pretty easy - there's nothing wrong with that, and I wouldn't want them to change from the cute accessible games they are. But I can't be the first person to wish Pokemon had some sort of hard mode, where you have to put more thought into the battles to win.

In Pokemon, most of the time you can win by exploiting type-weaknesses: water against fire is super effective; grass against water is super effective (for some reason). You also get given a very strong Pokemon as your starter - and it's intended you keep using it and evolve it with you the whole game.

In Monster Sanctuary, type-based weakness battling soon becomes ineffective - and though your starter is not a bad monster, you can quite happily drop your starter and structure a team around any monster you like.

The key to win is your monsters' passive skills, and how they come together to make a strong team. Pokemon and Monster Sanctuary both have the concept of unlocking skills as your monsters gain experience, but Pokemon doesn't have a concept of passive skills at all (and this is the main difference).

For example, in a late game battle you will need a team with a status-ailment strategy, like *chill*. So you might have skills like this:

- Shield the team from damage
- Heal the team
- Inflict chill on the opposing monsters, as many as possible at once
- A passive skill to stack chill multiple times on the enemy
- Passive skills to make the enemy take damage from chill

If it all works correctly, you may be hardly attacking the opposing monsters at all, but each turn they're getting repeatedly chilled, and all the chill statuses are tearing through their energy. Pretty soon they'll be a chilly puddle on the floor and you'll be victorious!

There are other status ailments which can be equally effective, like burn, bleed and poison... you make your choice depending on the monsters you like and how you want to build your tram.

Bosses and difficulty

The game is known for having bosses (the "alchemists", a bit like gym leaders in Pokemon) which can be big difficulty-bumps, and unfortunately a bit off-putting. Which ones you get stuck on will depend on the nature of your team; but there's an endgame boss where virtually everyone gets stuck, and this is where I'm stuck now.

This can be a bit jarring, but if you play this and get stuck on a boss, there's an important piece of advice: don't be afraid to remodel your team!
Monster Sanctuary makes it easy to hatch a new team that is almost the same level as your existing highest monsters, so you can try your hand with a totally new team of monsters without much trouble.

In conclusion...

I just think this is a cracking little game, expecially for the digital download price (bear in mind Switch always costs a little more). It gave me something I didn't know I wanted - a Pokemon-like game that is really quite hard to master, but very satisfying when you do.

If you have any favourite indie games, please post about them! I'm always on the lookout for a good suggestion.


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Thanks for the recommendation and the in-depth analyzation of the game. Helps for a very informed decision on whether or not to invest in the game. As a cozy gamer, I love indie games. Definitely worth checking out! 

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