Monster Harvest | PS4 Review.

Friday 1 October 2021

Publisher: Merge Games
Developer: Maple Powered Games
PS4 Review

*Disclaimer: I was sent the code for this game in return for a review, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Another farming game? Yeah I'm sorry about that but I've been looking forward to this game for a while now and knew immediately it was my cup of tea. Monster Harvest comes from the Indie developers Maple Powered Games, the concept for this game stood out as soon as I saw it was making monsters animals out of your harvest it's such a quirky little concept that I needed to experience it for myself, but before I get into this review I need to address the obvious, the game has had a lot of bugs and glitches which made it hard for me to finish (I did in the end) as my save would no longer load, it happened to me more than once so I kept on having to restart. In the end I left it alone for a little while to wait for the bug fixes. I understand how frustrating the wait has been as I have had to wait for the fix in order to write this review but players need to understand that patches and fixes take time to be approved.

First thing I noticed about Monster Harvest was how similar it was to pokemon and Stardew Valley the developers mashed the two together to make a charming farm world RPG whilst you unlock parts of the world to find new people/quests. Players are given the choice of 4 different characters to choose from, but their name and name of the farm are unable to be changed once chosen. We're thrown into things straight away after you get a letter from your uncle who wants you to take over his farm and help with his new discovery. Once you arrive you're given a simplistic tutorial on how things work on the farm and before you can move you're forced to plant your seeds whilst your Uncle stays around to see how you get on.

On my first save I spent hours upon hours getting to grips with farm life and building up a working farm to make money, that first save stopped working and I thought a power outage caused my save to be corrupted so I deleted it which I'm regretting doing now. Turned out it was an issue with the game itself which I mentioned above, I threw away all that hard work to make 4 more saves that had the same issues after a while so I left it for a few weeks until the game was working again. Since it's been working I have been able to throw myself back into farm life and turn some of my plants from crops we eat into adorable monsters I can use to fight with.

Farming life can either be relaxing or stressful depending on whether or not you're low on items, having a limited amount of energy that goes down fast means choosing what task is more important to you, you can sleep until the evening to get an energy boost which I recommend doing, that way you can at least get another task out of the way before you replenish your energy levels. I collected a lot of foods to keep me going and when they ran out I would sleep until the evening, do some more tasks then sleep until the next day. Yes, it can get very repetitive but when it comes to games like this it's something I have come to expect. The glitches with my energy levels threw me off at one point when a new save I made showed that I had no green or blue bar for my health and energy making me delete it and create 2 more saves until the issue was rectified.

Using slimes to turn crops and hybrid seeds into monsters which are called Planimals (clever take on plant and animals) with the help of your uncle and any slime monsters you come across you can make different types of monsters depending on the crop you used/slime used, they're up to 72 types of mutations. Some will help grow your plants faster which is handy for when the season is coming to an end for a particular plant, the planimals however a loyal little creatures who rely on you, if they die in battle they don't go to waste, the remnants of them can be used to improve your soil.

Your home and farm are an important focal point, you arrange the inside of your home however suits you, there are parts of your farm you need to upgrade as well as your tools (hoe, pickaxe, axe, watering can) that are all equally as important as each other. When using my tools I made sure that I never chopped down all the trees/rocks due to wanting to keep emergency materials close on the farm, instead I went into the dungeon and collected materials. Whilst doing this it's important to upgrade your inventory so you can hold more for either the consignment board or to store in chests to use as and when you need them.

I never feel comfortable playing a game until I get to know the layout, controls and mechanics of it first, I'm one of them people who worries that by making mistakes early on it will impact my gameplay throughout the whole game but alas I still made mistakes but thats all part of learning. The worst mechanic in the game for me was the fishing, it's not very forgiving on your energy levels and will take up a big chunk of them when you fail/end up catching a fish, this is when I decided to work around getting better at fishing in order to not let my energy go to waste. I still suck at it. I would often wonder around getting to know the residents even though their role is very minimum, your quests are what added more substance to the gameplay.

The second mechanic which was a thumbs down for me was the 1-v-1 battle mode, it seems too generic and can easily kill your planimal if you aren't careful. You can arrange the order of your planimals at the pen but can't change them in battle which is frustrating, certain moves are only unlocked once your planimal levels up but it can be a slow process at times. Other animals are used for farm life and automatically live in your barn, you can sell them once you grow or keep them. I let out a squeal of excitement when I got my first barn Planimal, you can keep your battle planimals with you or in the pen if you choose.

The soundtrack is calming and draws you in, the game has its own identity which has been moulded further with the use of music, it's easy to compare it to other games but it's clear the developers added their own unique twist on Monster Harvest to give the game to stand out. From what I understand text size has been an issue for some people and this is something I think the developers have/are working on now, it's important with games that don't have any voice actors make use of text settings and players are able to understand what is happening in game without their being a barrier and text size should always be taken into consideration within games.

Despite the issues Monster Harvest has a lot going for it, it's one of them games you can spend hours on, just relaxing and taking in the farm life but unfortunately it may be hard to do this properly until the patches for the game have all been added, there are still some issues that Merge/Maple Powered Games are trying to sort out, they have been keeping us all updated via their blog. Ultimately it's hard to enjoy a game and appreciate the hard work that went into it when it was released in a broken condition. I was left frustrated and annoyed most of the time when all I wanted to do was farm and create planimals, I wish this could have been more of a positive review if I'm honest.


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