Review: Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (PS4)

Review: Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Title: Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (4.41 GB)
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Developer: Game Atelier
Original MSRP: $39.99 (US), €39.99 (EU), £32.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
I could spend a few pages talking about how beautiful Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom looks on my screen.

And while I will discuss what is one of the best-looking games this year, I will reserve that for the visuals section of the review.

Because, although Monster Boy looks phenomenal, it’s also a blast to play – assuming you enjoy being challenged, as it is not a simple game.

Based on the Wonderboy series that dates back to the old Sega Master System, Monster Boy tasks the protagonist, Jin, with solving a curse that has befallen the kingdom.

Apparently, Jin’s uncle has turned everyone into animals and Jin feels responsible enough to agree to remove this curse.

We wouldn’t have a video game if this task was easy, so Jin ventures across the world in order to find a way to repair what has been done.

Although you will initially be equipped with a sword and shield, all of that immediately goes south as you are also inflicted with the curse and turned into a pig. While your overall fighting ability has been seriously nerfed, your sense of smell is unmatched, allowing you to discover hidden doorways and treasure.

And therein lies the nature of the gameplay. While it’s a side-scrolling action-adventure game, some of the puzzle solving components are just as challenging and incorporate into the gameplay smoothly, making Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom more than just a hack-and-slash affair.

While there isn’t a leveling system available to help you survive the tougher battles, exploring will reward you with heart containers and magic spells that will aid in keeping you alive longer. Additionally, shops are available throughout the world that will sell you weapon and armor upgrades for a price.

The best part of Monster Boy is that you have to learn each creature’s strengths in order to succeed, and that in itself provides the type of challenge that keeps the game fresh and you on your toes. Just about the time I was getting a little bored with one character, a new one was introduced that changed the game’s dynamics.

Visuals:
In a time where our consoles are pushing those insane numbers of polygons and volumetric lighting is commonplace, it’s great to see a little side-scrolling game that can excite me with its visuals.

Because there is still that side to art in gaming that isn’t represented by the power of the hardware, but by the work that goes into the visuals regardless of the horsepower behind them.

Every character is beautifully hand-drawn and animates fluidly over an artistically detailed environment. And then there are the layers. While most 2D games can get away with simply having a bridge represented by one layer, Monster Boy offsets the bridge sections ever so slightly to create that depth as you walk across it.

Audio:
The game starts with an animated sequence which includes a lyrical song that immediately reminded me of booting up Sonic CD and hearing “Sonic Boom” for the first time. From that moment, the music in Monster Boy continued to impress.

Sound design is also perfectly executed with great effects, including, but not limited to, the snorting sound your pig form makes when you are sniffing out hidden treasure.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
It’s refreshing to discover that smaller games like these can still contain such a polished level of quality that they can match scores with the bigger titles of the year. Monster Boy is a great experience.

It’s a little tough for those accustomed to simpler walkthroughs. Much like a Zelda adventure, you can upgrade your gear and hearts to help you live longer while you explore a gorgeous world. Either way, it’s absolutely one of my favorite games this year.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook