There’s nothing I love more than a new twist on an old idea. Like adding bacon to your favorite sandwich, it’s a scenario that combines the comfortingly familiar, with the excitingly original.
Monster Wars actually represents a twist on two old ideas. It’s both a new take on the classic tower defense genre, and a different approach to the previously released Legendary Wars, which our own Will McCool reviewed earlier this year.
Actually, the most notable difference between Legendary Wars and Monster Wars is a change of perspective. Whereas Legendary Wars had you leading a band of knights, elves and other heroes to victory over the forces of evil, Monster Wars sees you commanding those very same forces of evil, in their pursuit to triumph over those goody-two-shoes heroes.
In that respect, it’s an immediate improvement over its predecessor, simply because there are not enough games that let you play the role of the bad guys. While the kind of evil present here is no more shocking than the usual band of zombies, skeletons and other Halloween decoration ghoulies, it’s clear that developer Liv Games had a great time creating this world, and their enjoyment will instantly resonate with horror fans everywhere.
Unfortunately, while that move over to the dark side gives Monster Wars a much better aesthetic, it does very little to help the gameplay flaws that held Legendary Wars back.
If I had to describe the gameplay of Monster Wars in a single word, it would be “clunky.” The basic premise is simple enough, as most levels require you to build units then maneuver between three lanes so that they can battle oncoming opponents, but the controls make that concept much more frustrating than it should be. The swipe-and-tap movement system Monster Wars uses should be pretty standard by now, but there are many instances when the game just doesn’t seem to recognize your commands on the first try. Even basic orders like tapping a button to upgrade your base or units, suffer from shoddy detection.
The real shame there is that the controls end up being the game’s biggest challenge. The sooner you understand how to navigate them, the sooner you discover that the enemies which are supposed to be the game’s real obstacles, are easily dispatched by a combination of special attacks, and good old persistence. There are few confrontations in the game that aren’t easily settled by throwing enough minions at the other side of the screen. That might be oddly appropriate for a game where you control skeletons, zombies and other character types used to this shoddy treatment in video games, but it does remove a good part of the actual strategy from this strategy title.
What you’re left with then is a game with quite a lot of content (including unlockable minions, items, upgrades and modes), that’s hindered by the busted gameplay it’s built upon. The obvious amount of artistic and comedic talent at Liv Games makes them a mobile developer worth keeping an eye on in the future, but unfortunately does little to alleviate the mechanical issues that keep both Legendary Wars and Monster Wars from being easy recommendations.
But if you are a strategy fan with an extra dollar burning in your pocket, and you can’t help but be curious regarding these games, then you have to go with Monster Wars. Why? Because it’s focused on the troops of evil. And, as we learned from Spaceballs, “Evil will always win over good, because good is dumb.”
Is it Hardcore?
Though playfully evil in its art style, the real horror of Monster Wars comes when you try to control it.