From developers Odencat is a new entry into the retro styled, story driven JRPG genre – Meg’s Monster.
Built from the ground up to be released on consoles and Steam, the question we have to ask is whether or not a little indie game can compete with the top flight JRPGs like Persona 5 Royal?
Well, clearly the answer is no, but that isn’t what this game is about. Come with me to the underworld so we can find out about not only Meg, but her monster too.
The story found in Meg’s Monster is vital, as this is where a JRPG either comes alive or falls flat on its face. And luckily, this not only doesn’t fall over, but stands tall and keeps you playing to get to the end of the narrative, so there is a great big tick there.
Meg is a small girl who wakes up in a dark underground cave, and when she stumbles out of it, she meets two monsters. And of course, like any monster the first thought of one of them is to eat her. However, when Meg cries, the world seems to heat up to a dangerous degree, and it only backs off when she is comforted and made to stop crying. It turns out that Meg is the so-called “harbinger of ruin”, and her tears are the thing that will bring about the end of the world. So, what else can two responsible monsters – Roy and Golan – do but try and reunite her with her mother? Meg does take a shine to Roy straight away, and while he finds her annoying, he does want to stay alive, so he puts up with her.
I can say, without a word of a lie, that the story here is full of twists and turns, and when I finally finished it, it opened up a new chapter to play through. This replaces the original ending of the game to ensure it makes a lot more sense, as well as completely rewriting how the narrative comes to a climax. It stands as a testament to the writing that I did all of this in one day. I just couldn’t get enough of the way the narrative was presented, nor the sympathetic way that the characters we meet are introduced. Frankly, it is excellent, and surprisingly emotional.
Presentation wise and the same high standards keep on applying. The graphics are done in a very appealing pixel art style, and even the scary monsters are drawn with such care and attention that you feel bad about filling them in. Meg’s Monster is presented simply but effectively, and there is a kind of overworld map with various nodes on it. These nodes are where you go to advance the story: red exclamation marks mean there is a main story event to do, while a green one signifies that there is a side story or event to take in. In each area, there are people to talk to, and usually fight, and it all works very well.
Soundwise, the game is also very good. There is some lovely music threaded through, never too obtrusive, but suiting the game perfectly. And whilst the story itself is presented via the medium of text windows, in a nice touch, as the text is appearing each character has a different tone. As an example Gustav, a hulking great monster, has a very deep tone to the noises he makes, while Len, a small child-like monster, has a much higher pitched tone. It is hard to explain, but works very well.
Meg’s Monster plays a little bit differently to other games as well. Combat, when it happens, is a turn based affair, but there is a twist. You see, Roy is so buff, so tough, and has so much HP that it is very unlikely that any monster will ever defeat him. However, his weak point is Meg – as he gets hit, while he doesn’t get hurt, Meg cannot bear to see her friend in trouble and so her mood goes down. If it hits the bottom, she will cry, and that is literally the end of the world. So, every now and then, Roy will have to break off from fighting in order to play with her, using a variety of toys that he finds in the course of the game. This will, in effect, heal Meg and keep the world in one piece.
As Roy defeats enemies, not only does his attack and defense increase, but so does Meg’s heart gauge, and so she can stand more before crying. This then is the whole of the game – go to places, talk to people, fight other creatures and keep Meg from crying. It is brilliant in its simplicity.
If I had one tiny complaint about Meg’s Monster, it is that it is over just a bit too quickly, even with the extra chapter that you can unlock. Thankfully, the rest of the game is perfectly judged. It is good fun, the story really does hit you in the feels, and the artwork is very nice indeed. All in all, if you are looking for a JRPG with a twist, with a brilliant story mixed in, then Meg’s Monster is the one for you.
Play this game, would be my advice to you all.
Meg’s Monster is on the Xbox Store
- Great story
- Excellent look to the game
- Twist on the usual combat
- Just a touch too short
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – Odencat
- Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, PC
- Version reviewed – Xbox Series X
- Release date – 2 March 2023
- Launch price from – £12.49