The whole dating sim genre has never done anything for me, and truthfully I find them a bit bland. I’m not one to click through pages of dialogue and become attached to characters as I learn their personalities, hopes and dreams; It just ain’t for me. So when I say that I loved playing Monster Camp, a dating sim with tons of dialogue and characters, you know it must be pretty good.
From its weird and wonderful characters to its great replayability, Monster Camp feels like a more refined game than its 2018 original Monster Prom. While it doesn’t do a lot different than its predecessor, the game still managed to make me crack a smile more often than not. Plus, with a big focus on the multiplayer aspect, it’s a riot to play with friends.
Monster Camp is available on PC.
STORY – SUMMER LOVIN’
After a long school year, sometimes it’s nice to get out in nature and work on yourself.
You, along with a host of ghoulish guys and gals, head to camp spooky, a pretty typical-looking summer camp. Before arriving, you learn about a meteor shower that will be flying over camp, and what better way to enjoy a spectacle like that than with your spooky soulmate? With only a few weeks, you’ll take part in a mad dash to win the heart of your monster love. with hilarity and heart are woven throughout the whole experience.
Aside from this initial premise, the story is pretty much what you make of it. Rather than a continuous plot that carries the game, a vast selection of random scenarios and situations make up the bulk of the narrative. Personally, I much prefer this rather than the usual on-rails approach a lot of other dating sims tend to take. But just because the narrative is more freeform doesn’t mean it’s bad; on the contrary, it’s the game’s best asset and does a lot of the heavy lifting. The freedom to talk with the characters you want and the random nature of the storytelling makes for some really unique moments. No two runs of the game will feel the same.
The stellar cast of characters only makes it better. Each and every one of the main cast, as well as the minor characters, are full of charm and wit that oozes style and depth. Whether it’s a non-binary social media reaper or a simple yet lovable werewolf, it’s hard not to love all the characters you’ll meet in your time at camp spooky.
I could go on about the countless humour filled interactions between characters and yourself, but it’s best you experience it yourself. Take my word for it, if you like humour and don’t mind a bit of childish nonsense, Monster Camp’s got you covered. Plus, with 24 secret endings, over a 1000 outcomes and a ton of events, you’ve got more than enough game to play.
GAMEPLAY – EARN THOSE CAMP BADGES
If you’ve played the first game, Monster Prom, you’ll know exactly what your in for with Monster Camp. While there have been some changes compared to the original, a lot of the core gameplay remains the same.
First, you’ll pick one of four playable characters, your name and as a nice inclusive feature, your pronouns (hats off to Beautiful Glitch for this). Afterward, you’ll be shown nine random items, which you add to your backpack to randomly determine your starting stats. You’ll then get an introduction to your potential dates, each requiring different stats and conditions to win them over. Once all these pleasantries are done, you get to the real meat of the game.
The gameplay is focused around three aspects: The map, stats and interactions. All three of these are intertwined, playing out seamlessly together with each passing turn. So how does it work?
Let’s start with the map, seeing as you’ll be looking at it for a majority of your time playing. Once you get into the main game, you have a selection of areas around the camp you can visit. Each of these areas will give some nutty dialogue about your camp activities before improving one or more of your stats, with different areas affecting different stats. Then, you’ll bump into a few of the colourful characters, who will often be involved in some weird situation.
It’s here where your interaction comes into play. After getting through the dialogue and learning about the ridiculous predicament they are in, you choose from two dialogue choices to help them solve their problems, often with a more preposterous solution than needed. It’s by having these interactions that you can increase your chances with whatever monster has taken your fancy; If you give them the right answer. If you do, not only does it help you get your date, but it also can give you a little extra boost in stats.
Now, if you really want to get the most out of Monster Camp, then you should be playing the multiplayer. The whole game was clearly build to be played with others, and this is where it really shines. You might find yourself competing for a character’s attention or to visit certain areas, blocking other players using them that turn. Perhaps you play wingman for your buddy and help them get their dream date. Whatever you do, playing with others is a far more rewarding experience.
Now, as engaging as the game can be, it also suffers from some of the same issues as its predecessor. For one, you’ll often find yourself returning to the same areas over and over again to increase one stat, so expect to see some of the same dialogue and scenarios multiple times. On top of that, with no way of knowing what character needs what stat to win them over, it can sometimes feel a bit like a guessing game. Arguably, these aren’t much of a dealbreaker, but they certainly can become a nuisance after a while.
All that being said, I generally enjoyed what I played. Yes, it’s a lot of what I’ve seen before, and it does still have some of the same problems. But combined with the great writing and characters, it makes some of the game’s shortcomings more bearable. Plus, with a few new tricks like a mini-game involving a cat wizards potions, a campfire, and a rumour spreading insect, the game can be a good laugh. If you can, I’d recommend playing it with friends; it’s always more fun fighting over a date than going it alone.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO – CARTOON CHIC
For Monster Camp, the visuals and soundtrack are the cherries on top of an already great game. Feeling more like a Saturday morning cartoon, all the visuals have had a tremendous amount of care put into them. Brightly coloured and completely unique, each character is stylish, fun and detailed with a ton of different looks and expressions that just add an extra flair to the game’s already great design. The same goes for the map, that while not quite as exciting as its characters, still look stellar.
The Beach Boys vibes of the soundtrack are a great compliment to the game, underlining the gameplay with its oddly catchy tunes. It gives off cartoon-Esque vibes in some ways, which, coupled with the visuals, work together in great fashion.
The game’s style is easily one of its best attributes, and the design team should be praised for making such a stellar looking game and such beautifully designed characters. The inclusion of a gallery filled with fan art isn’t a bad addition either.
A code for Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp was provided by Sandbox Strategies, and was reviewed on PC.