Look At This Cute Little Thing! What’s It For?
Developer Loongcheer Game brings to Android a title that differs a bit from their previous offerings. iMonster Classic, a roguelike with RPG elements, puts players in the role of a customizable monster on a quest to… Well, to be frank, I wasn’t really sure what his purpose was as I played through the game. But he’s cute.
iMonster Classic begins at the base of a massive tower at the top of which sits the bastion of civilization known as Floating Island. This landform created by humans consumes large amounts of energy, which has led to the exploitation of monsters in order to keep it running. For this reason, a war has broken out between the humans above and the monsters below. In a treacherous turn, the humans have captured the monsters’ Devil King during what were supposed to be neutral negotiations. It is now up to you, lowly and inexperienced monster that you are, to battle your way through the tower and rescue the monarch.
Mind you, the preceding summary came entirely from the blurb on the game’s Google Play page. The text in game has been pretty poorly localized and is oftentimes not entirely comprehensible. I played through iMonster with only a general idea of my goal and was honestly quite astonished to discover just now that the game has a somewhat fleshed out backstory.
Let’s Add a Tail
iMonster at first glance seems to have the makings of an appealing and entertaining roguelike. For starters, you get to create and customize your own little monster. And I found the one I made to be absolutely adorable. Truthfully, he’s the reason I kept playing for so long. You can select from a variety of options, such as skin color, mouth and ear shape, and even choose what type of horns and tail your little monster will have.
And the customization doesn’t end there. Fairly in-depth roleplaying elements mean you will collect equipment during your forays into the tower. Using materials found along the way, you can then upgrade or even reforge your gear at the blacksmith back at camp. Of course, you gain levels as you defeat foes in the tower, which earns you points to spend in a multi-tiered skill tree. This allows you to further personalize your critter by selecting how he evolves, such as whether his health auto regens or if he damages enemies when they attack. There are even different types of magic—fire, lightning, ice, poison—that can provide a powerful complement to a melee-based fighter. Or you can choose to forego swordplay and focus more on spellcasting.
As a longtime fan of roleplaying games, I found these elements of iMonster to be the most enjoyable. They are undoubtedly what kept me climbing the tower far longer than I would have otherwise.
Stairway to…Nowhere Really
Unfortunately, the negative points of iMonster do not end with poor translations. While not entirely deal breakers, these issues do put a bit of a damper on a person’s enjoyment of the game. First and foremost, iMonster is simply not that fun. It’s repetitive, tedious and mindless. The enemy types change as you progress through the tower, but the combat stays pretty much the same. Even upgrading skills or weapons had no significant impact on the way I played the game.
Basically, I’d walk up to an enemy, click on it, and wait for it to die. If my health got too low, I’d tap the potion icon. If the enemy took too long to die, I’d tap the icon of a magic spell. When the foe inevitably fell, I’d collect my loot, which I already probably had multiple iterations of, and continue on to the next enemy. Floor after floor, not much really changed. Sometimes there’d be a secret room with extra goodies to collect. There’d be a boss to fight every 10 floors or so, which served as a checkpoint, and these occasionally required me to stop snoozing. But in general, I was half asleep the whole time I played iMonster.
Monster’s Got a Brand New Bag
The tedium was compounded by the fact that you constantly collect loot just for the sake of collecting loot. It’s a roguelike, so that’s what you do. To carry all of this swag, you have to buy extra slots for your backpack using gems that you earn either as a login bonus or by watching ads. But no matter how much space I purchased for my inventory, it always seemed full. It felt as if I were ceaselessly managing my items—discarding some, hanging onto others to sell, comparing stats to make sure I was using the best helmet out of the 12 almost identical ones I was carrying…
Inevitably, I would have to return to base camp to sell items and clean out my inventory. This point of “I can’t go any further” almost always came mid-level, i.e. before the boss and checkpoint. This meant that I would have to fight my way from the previous checkpoint again…and again…and again. Sure, I could have just avoided fighting enemies and hurried to the next floor of the tower. But that would have meant missing out on earning experience and potentially being underprepared for the boss fight. I’ve also never been able to ignore fodder or shinies in my path, in any game.
One thing that eased some of the monotony of trudging through the same floors of the tower multiple times is that each level is procedurally generated. So even though I was fighting the same enemies over and over, at least the map layout wasn’t exactly the same every time. That helped keep some of my interest because exploration always felt a little fresh. Ultimately, however, I simply didn’t have the perseverance to conquer the tower of tedium that is iMonster Classic.
Is It Hardcore?
iMonster unfortunately falls short in the fun factor and overdoses players with a generous helping of sameness. The RPG elements in this roguelike, although fleshed out and diverting, weren’t enough to overcome the humdrum of the rest of the game.