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Review: Monster Hunter Stories

Monster Hunter Stories is a spin-off from the popular Monster Hunter franchise. It’s been out in Japan for a while now and gamers were losing all hope that it would make it to the Western market. Thanks to the publishing skills of Nintendo, you’ll be able to enjoy this wonderful game with English subtitles as it launches in the West this week. It’s not a Monster Hunter game you’re used to but that’s nothing to worry about!

Create your hero and save the world

Right after you boot up the game for the first time, you’ll immediately be welcomed by an impressive intro. This intro showcases the gorgeous world of the Monster Hunter game and its heroes. This time, you’re not a hunter, you’re a rider. Right from the start, I felt a ‘Game of Thrones’ vibe since riders were able to mount epic dragons, I mean, what’s not to love here? The colorful introduction got us excited to see more so we jumped into the main game right after. Since this is an RPG, we had the possibility to create our new hero.

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This character creation goes rather deep, so you’ll be able to create the hero of your dreams (man or female) to go on your adventure. The adventure is your typical RPG story where you’ll have to save your world from a mysterious danger that’s taking over everything that you love. Lucky for you, you’re not alone in this quest and you can count on your friends and of course, the friendly monsters in the world. You’re not here to kill the monsters, you’re here to domesticate them and ride them into battle, a rather impressive RPG approach that reminded me of an alternative Pokémon game.

Collect your monsters

Collecting the monster is, of course, the main goal of this game and is also the most fun thing to do. During your stay on the gorgeous island, you’ll be able to do a lot of quests and side-quests for a lot of the inhabitants of the world. In order to achieve in your quests, you’ll need powerful monsters by your side. Riders can only domesticate a new monster by ‘stealing’ and hatching an egg that is often found in a dungeon. In those dungeons, things can get interesting.

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For an RPG, the game gives you a surprisingly high amount of freedom on how to tackle your problems. For example, if you want to get your hands on an egg, you can choose for the stealthy approach or you can defeat all the other monsters guarding the eggs. Not all the monsters are friendly, this still is a Monster Hunter game. But instead of fighting them one on one in real time, you’re able to defeat the monsters in turn based battles. You’ll see the monster walking around in the world, by bumping into them you’ll start the combat. In combat, you’re able to use the monster you’ve already trained in order to take down the enemies. You’ll have three different attacks that work as a certain rock, paper, scissors mechanic, one attack always being superior above another. Experimenting with this and using your attacks at the right time is crucial to surviving and results in a lot of fun. To keep the combat interactive, the game will throw in some quick time events to make it more interesting. The battles really are interactive and fun. Even at the end of the game, they never got boring.

Hatch those little monsters and discover the world

If you successfully defeated the monster and took the egg home to your village, you’ll be able to hatch it thanks to the help of a familiar face. Hatching these eggs really is a fun part of the game since you never really know what to expect, it’s always a fun surprise to see who will join your growing army of fighting monsters. I really like the way the developers approached this, especially thanks to the way this new virtual world is created.

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Don’t be mistaken since this is a spin-off product, it’s really created with a lot of love and eye for details. It’s perhaps one of the best looking games out there on the Nintendo 3DS family and runs extremely smooth. I’ve played it on a New Nintendo 2DS XL and never experienced any lag. To be honest, I do think that you’ll have the best experience if you play on a New Nintendo 3DS product, this way the game won’t lag while playing and you’ll have an extra camera stick to move around the camera freely, although the camera work is pretty solid in this one.

 

Eventually, it’s all a bit of the same

Although the game starts really impressive and the gameplay mechanics are all in place, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was doing the same thing over and over again. The idea behind the game is good but I’m afraid the developers didn’t get that much inspiration to create a lot of different missions, most will have similar goals. To be honest, that’s something you’ll see in main Monster Hunter games as well so it’s really personal taste if something like this will bother you. Be prepared for a lengthy adventure since this really is one of those classic RPG games filled with hours of gameplay.

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It’s good to see that the developers added enough things next to the main story like the side-quests or ability to tune your monsters and gear but perhaps, all of those things might be a bit overwhelming. Monster Hunter Stories is a game packed with content but for me personally, it became a little too much at some points. It’s not one of those games you’ll grab during your quick travels, this is a game where you’ll invest a lot of your time in. You can best compare it to the way you’ll play a Pokémon game. I liked it a lot and really appreciate what the creators delivered but there’s just a bit too much of recycling in it for me.

Conclusion:

Monster Hunter Stories is a great addition to the impressive Nintendo 3DS library and really earns its spot next to the better games on the handheld. It’s a new approach for a Monster Hunter game but it simply works. The ability to train monsters and fight enemies using a turn based system simply works surprisingly well. The world is beautifully created and has a lot of details to make it even better. For me personally, the quests could need a bit more variation close to the end but that still doesn’t take away the fact that you simply need to try this game out on your Nintendo 3DS system!

8/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.