What is Monster Hunter Stories?
Letting you hatch, battle and raise over 60 different types of monster, Monster Hunter Stories is a Japanese-style role playing game with a lot in common with Pokemon. Playing as a (male or female) Rider - a human who has a special bond with the monsters that roam the land - you'll set out on a quest to discover the cause of a mysterious fog known as the Blight, which has been infecting the monsters, and poisoning the forests.
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How do you play Monster Hunter Stories?
A heavily story driven game, Monster Hunter Stories is a game full of quests, collectibles, and monsters (or as the game dubs them, "Monsties") to befriend, with the vast majority of the game revolving around your connection with monster-kind. Whether you're heading after a friend who got lost in the forest, helping a traveler deal with a particularly tough beastie who's been making his life a misery, or being sent on a quest to gather a specific type of egg, there's always something important to be doing - and plenty to keep you busy besides.
While exploring the world, you'll regularly come across Monster Dens, which are essentially mini-dungeons that contain a monster nest, some monster eggs, and sometimes, a large and somewhat angry monster. Sneak (or fight) your way in, and grab an egg, and you'll be able to take it back to the village to hatch, where you can meet your new friend.
Focussing on the relationship between the humans and monsters, Monster Hunter Stories uses a turn-based battle system that sees you and your "Monstie" fighting alongside each other. Rather than learning a complex array of moves, the game instead uses a rock-paper-scissors system, with both you and your monster having three different types of moves you can perform, with each being weak against one type, and strong against another (so, power is strong against technical, but weak against speed). Attack an enemy, and your move of choice will go up against your enemy's head on, with the rock-paper-scissors system deciding who'll take the most damage, and who'll get off lightly.
How easy is Monster Hunter Stories to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Monster Hunter Stories does a great job of easing new players in. With clear, regular, yet non-intrusive tutorials, this is a game that gently introduces you to its worlds and concepts, ensuring you know absolutely everything you need to know. A button on the Touch Screen lets you ask your cat companion, Navirou, what you should be doing next, while the game's turn based battle system ensures you'll have plenty of time to think over your next move, and can easily see whether your strategy is or isn't working.
While you can only save your game by heading home to rest, the rest of the game is actually really forgiving. With a team of up to six characters (you plus five monsters, although only one monster can fight alongside you at any time), and the ability to swap monsters out at any time, you'll have a lot of backup should things get hectic. Even more forgiving is the game's heart system - should you fall in battle, rather than getting a game over, you'll instead simply lose one of your hearts, before returning to battle with full health. Only if you lose all three hearts will you find yourself being reset back to the entry to the dungeon, with your hearts being replenished when you rest/save your game.
For the youngest of players, a strong reading ability is required for Monster Hunter Stories - with no English voice acting, both the plot and the game's tutorials are delivered through text only. With one character speaking only in rhymes, and another putting as many cat related jokes into their dialogue as they can manage, being a confident reader will go a long way.
Sample sentences include:
- "Pawsome! Predicting your opponents moves is the key to victory fur sure."
- "Are you a chicken Cheval? Scared of the spoooooky monsters in the big bad forest?"
- "Danger's no more, it's all down to you, the village is safe, that much is true!"
With nothing in the way of bad language, sexual content, or gore, Monster Hunter Stories is mostly free of mature content. While the game does contain battles, where you'll attack monsters with a sword, there's nothing in the way of realistic impacts here, with large flashes and cartoon-style damage markers being as strong as it gets.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS