Monster Train review – IGN

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When my wife saw me play for the first time Monster train she thought i had become addicted Kill the arrow again and she would have to put up with another part of me playing endlessly. I had good news and bad news for it: the good news is that while it is also a colorful and cartoony game where you choose new cards and mod items after each fight to improve your deck, then expend energy to use those cards in turn-based battle, Monster Train is a very different take on the idea of ​​bridge building roguelike. The bad news (again, for her, not for Monster Train) is that it’s just as incredibly deep, dynamic, and replayable, and it kept me as engrossed as Slay The Spire.

The most obvious difference is that instead of having a single character attacking and casting spells, Monster Train puts you in command of many creatures – and they can be summoned to the first three of the four floors of your train to create a increasingly complex glove for enemies. cross on their way to attack its power source at the top. Why does a train have four floors? This is not clear, as the trains are traditionally arranged horizontally. But Monster Train has a very weird story around it on a quest to restart the fires of hell that provides crazy, colorful backgrounds for its battles and successfully keeps all kinds of questions away – such as “Why the hell? is it good and is heaven bad now? “- as not important anyway.

Variety is king in a game like this, and it’s impressive how different each of Monster Train’s five decks play. Hellhorned demons are powerful creatures that develop rage to further increase their attack power; the Melting Remnant relies on inexpensive temporary units made of wax that burn and die after a certain number of turns, but can be revived even harder; the macabre Umbra depends on summoning and consuming creatures called pieces to strengthen others; Awoken uses a lot of retaliation and health regeneration spikes on his herbal units; and the Aquatic Stygian Guard specializes in spells and damage over time.

The gameplay differences of the five decks do a fantastic job of changing the rules.


All of the monsters are designed in Monster Train’s detailed, cartoony art style that mixes the cheerful and the grotesque, and the mismatched mishmash of characters is just fun to watch. (Plus, all of the shops along the way are run by weird cats, some of whom appear to be cyborgs.) More importantly, their gameplay differences do a fantastic job changing the rules and injecting a new variety, no only based on your main deck – which determines which evolving champion character you can summon for free at the start of each match – but also on your secondary deck.

Monster Train screenshots

Because you choose two of these decks to play in each round, you directly have 10 different combinations that you can use (many more if you include the fact that swapping the primary and secondary will change which champion you use, and you have the option to choose between two champions for each main deck), each with very different synergies between their abilities. You can, for example, give demons pieces to make them stronger or use the Melting Remant’s awakening abilities on any other faction’s units, creating combos so powerful they seem shattered – at first. Every time you beat the final boss (a successful run takes about an hour) the challenge increases (unless you don’t want to), to the point where anything less than a super powerful build will give you a chance to do a snowball. Hell. The more I experimented and learned, the more I was rewarded with a nuanced understanding of how to maximize a deck’s potential.

Each deck combo has very different synergies between their abilities.


Monster Train relies a bit more on chance than Slay The Spire in that even most of your starting deck is random on each race and the chosen champion’s leveling path is reduced to two of its three possibilities. global. It can be a little frustrating as it sometimes leads to a race where I feel the odds are unfairly stacked against me, but it also means that sometimes I come back unexpectedly from what seemed like a bad situation.You can usually make lemonade from lemons if you think carefully about the random selection of cards and artifacts presented to you, as well as the simple choice of either of two tracks to take on. The world map. This will take you, for example, either a unit upgrade store, health pickup and a new random artifact or spell upgrade store, a new free modifier artifact, and the ability to duplicate n ‘ any card other than your champion. These choices can dramatically change the way you play and force you to change your plans and adapt, or turn to a new opportunity that you didn’t anticipate instead of following the same playbook every time.

These choices can drastically change the way you play and force you to adapt.


Even the very first Artifact you choose from the two options presented will have immediate, far-reaching effects that define your run. Maybe your four stewards (base torch-headed soldiers that each deck receives by default) are suddenly made much more powerful; Perhaps enemies take damage each time they move up from one floor to the next, effectively canceling base units; Maybe you get +7 action points on your first turn, so you can build your deck to summon some extremely powerful units if you draw them that turn. There are dozens of these options to find, and many are game-changing.

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Monster Train puts more emphasis on tactics than Slay The Spire because while the order of the spells you cast and the units you place is always crucial in this type of game, you also need to think about the three story positioning to at a time (you cannot place units in the Pyre room at the top). Normally the first unit in a row will take the burned damage until they die and the guys in the back are protected – unless the enemy has a sweep modifier that allows them to attack. all your troops at once. Many abilities, like the Armor Imp’s power to give an ally protective armor, only affect the first unit in line, so you want to make sure your troops are aligned to get the most out of them. You should also consider that, by default, all enemy units will attack first, which means that you should generally consider defense before attacking – a unit with strong attack but weak defense will not survive to use that attack at unless it is protected. But it’s upset if you have a unit with the Fast modifier, letting them strike first and unlocking new strategies.

Monster Train puts more emphasis on tactics than Slay The Spire.


Just about anything your units can do, the enemy can do as well, leading to a wide variety of weird “heavenly” creatures (who often seem as demonic as anything that comes from hell) to fight off. and weaknesses to be exploited. Each battle ends with a boss fight that first harasses you and supports its attacking units by moving between the three floors and throwing buffs and attacks before directly joining the fight and locking the floors when they are clean them. They too have random modifiers, so even if Monster Train tells you ahead of time which bosses you will face, you still won’t be able to fully anticipate their moves until the battle is joined.

It can take a while to watch the fights unfold as your units and the enemy take turns hacking each other – especially when you already know you’re going to lose, as there is no surprise if you calculate the calculation in your head. before you end your round – but luckily there is a setting in the menus to speed up the pace at which this takes place.

I had a lot more fun trying things on my own and learning as and when I would have.


Honestly, there are way too many of these choices for me to go through all of them without turning this review into an instruction manual. Suffice it to say that just about every moment you are making important decisions, and they all need to be weighed carefully, because you can never be sure what will come next. And while you can certainly check out the vast and in-depth wikis and guide videos that show you how to use everything, I had a lot more fun trying things out for myself and learning as I went. The battle music selection is also excellent – the fact that I never felt the need to turn it off after dozens of hours of playing is testament to that.

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I will say that because Monster Train only saves at the start and end of each battle rather than after each round, it’s a bit too easy to play around with the roguelike nature of it – an issue shared by Slay the Spire also. Once I figure out that if my fingers slip and accidentally hit alt-F4 when I’m about to lose a battle, the clock will be set back when I reopen it, swallowing a loss became much more difficult. But that’s a bit of a problem with me, isn’t it?

If somehow you’re tired of normal races, Monster Train has lots and lots of optional mods to make it easier or harder (like playing without a champion or allowing you to place more units on each floor) as well as daily and asynchronous multiplayer challenges where everyone competes for score with the same modifiers, and more. Once it grabbed hold of me, Monster Train felt almost bottomless … and that was before developer, Shiny Shoe, started adding new content. It’s happening at a pace where if you drop it for a while and come back there will likely be something new to try.

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