Dating sims tend to get a bad rap here in North America, presumably because video games are implicitly viewed as a form of wish-fulfillment. This is why any public discussion of a dating sim will inevitably be met with jeers along the lines of, “Can’t you get a real girlfriend? Is that why you play this kind of game?” Regardless of one’s thoughts about the genre, it provides a good framework for turn-based simulations with lightweight puzzle elements, which can be applied to themes other than romance. Monster Loves You, despite a name which suggests otherwise, does precisely that.
Dejobaan’s latest release puts you in the slime-filled body of a monster as it grows from a tiny “morsel” into a fully-grown adult and—if you play your cards right—beyond. There’s no story to speak of, at least not in the pre-plotted form that most games offer. Instead, you make your own story, the story of your life as a monster.
It works like this: in each stage of your existence, you have about a dozen random events you can experience. Every event is a miniature choose-your-own-adventure in which you select one of several actions/reactions. That choice affects how the scenario plays out, as well as the development of your personality. So, sharing a meal with a hungry friend might increase your kindness while beating him up will instead raise your ferocity. There are no wrong answers in these events, nor are there long-term consequences to your decisions, at least in the growing-up portion of the game.
Growing up takes up the bulk of your play time, spanning four stages of your life: Morsel, Monsterling, Adolescent, and Adult. At the end of the final stage you are judged and, if your personality is satisfactory enough, you’ll either be allowed to ascend as an immortal Elder, or left to die and become nourishment for the next generation of monsters.
Upon becoming an Elder, you can start influencing the opinions humans and monsters hold toward each other. Unlike the prior stages, the decisions you make as an Elder don’t change your personality, but instead have longer-term consequences. If you can make humans and monsters like each other equally, an everlasting utopic peace will be your reward. If not, well, there are several ways a negative scenario can play out.
This is where the “lightweight puzzle elements” I mentioned earlier come into play. The odds are stacked overwhelmingly in favor of you becoming an Elder and everyone becoming best friends, so if you want to see the negative endings, you’ll have to be a bit more selective with your decisions.
Monster Loves You is an easy game. You read, make decisions and, more often than not, things will work out to your benefit. There’s no way to actually lose and, like any dating sim-styled game, the value comes from the writing and the scenarios you find yourself engaged in. There are a lot of humorous, heart-warming, surprising, and interesting moments that pop up during play. I found myself experiencing a wide range of emotions, which is a testament to the ability of the writing team.
If there’s one downside, it’s that the game gets a little bland after a while. The events you participate in are random, but there is a fair bit of repetition from one playthrough to the next. By the time I did my sixth run, I felt like I had seen everything already and was only playing to unlock different endings.
Conclusion—Is It Worth The Money?
Monster Loves You is a rarity in the modern world: it’s a product with heart. It lifted my spirits while it lasted, and is a game that I would spend $10 on without regret. If you’re looking for something with charisma, personality, humor, and whimsy, you can’t go wrong with this.