Well, what do you know? Another one of these. What can I say? Got games to review and these two, Solo and Monster Prom, are way past embargo, just taken me a while to get to them. Now that I have…well, we’ll get to them!
Solo is a self-described introspective journey with puzzle elements.
Monster Prom is a dating sim in a high school filled with renditions of classic Hollywood Monsters.
Release Date: April 2018
- Lookin’ Good: Monster Prom has a great art style, giving the classic monsters a really nice and modern look, almost pulled from a comic book (or web comic for that matter). I love the design of the characters, with great details that tell you more about their personalities.
- Great Sound: Monster Prom’s music is all phenomenal classic surf rock, and perhaps intentionally it kept reminding me of The Munsters’ theme song with the twangy guitar bits. Might grab the soundtrack later on, really enjoyed the music and combined with the modern look, it gave the high school a timeless feeling.
- Comedic Dunce: Monster Prom claims to be funny and witty with just enough of a dash of over the top silliness to keep you going as you replay for completion’s sake, or just having a match with your buddies, but the writers’ humour works that can’t even be considered juvenile. Dialogues and responses are just a random collection of silly phrases, either the most over the top option, the dirtiest option or the cruelest one. Worse still, the writers can’t even set the jokes up properly. When your writing consists of only random punchlines without the proper setup, the comedy falls flat and in Monster Prom it falls on its face.
- One-note Characters: When you start the game you get a small look at the characters you’ll be wooing for the honour of being their Monster Prom dates, and those descriptions are about as far as the characterisation goes, as every one of the NPCs plays their signature trait to the extreme, with no depth or nuance. They’re a collection of high school cardboard cutout stereotypes. So it’s not just in the comedy part that the writing leaves much to be desired.
- Waste of Setting: I honestly thought that it would be impossible to waste as Monster School setting. I thought it was a foolproof for storytelling, especially when you mix in classical Hollywood monster tropes. But the developers couldn’t even give their narrative and characterisation a hint of depth. Instead they go for cheap gags and completely waste their chance with what could’ve been a great number of individual supernatural stories. Bestsellers have been written with fewer elements than what Monster Prom completely wastes.
Release Date: April 2018
- Charming: Solo looks great, with beautiful and bright colours for the various archipelagos you visit. Even the drabbest of them looks beautiful and if you complete some of the puzzles that change nature, you’ll see some of the biomes go in full bloom. It’s great stuff.
- One Trick Pony: Solo is a puzzler, but it features only the most basic of puzzle elements: boxes. Stack them, align them and climb them and you’ll have the extent of Solo’s puzzle design. Even with the variety of box/cube types, including propellers and ones that extend a path, it doesn’t take long for the general experience to turn dull, as every other puzzle has the same solution. Worse still is that there are only a handful of what could be the game’s best puzzle type, the one where you redirect a jet of water. It could’ve opened the path to some really creative stuff, but it’s underused and ultimately wasted.
- Fill the Questionnaire: Solo might say in the premise that it’s an introspective journey into the nature of human romantic relationships but it’s about as deep as a Facebook “Which Character Are You?” quiz, with a series of increasingly annoying questions about your romantic experiences and then at the end listing your responses to you, asking a few more binary questions and then making claims about who you are. This is not introspection, guys, it’s a cheap and shallow magazine questionnaire.
- Romance Televangelist: Solo and its developers have an agenda, to make you understand that romantic relationships and having a couple are the most important things in the world, beyond family, friends and even your passions and dreams. It constantly attempts to drive home its message that life is only worthwhile if you’re in a relationship, which annoyed me to no end. Even if you tell the game that you’re on your own, flying solo, it will still spawn an NPC of the gender you must choose for your ideal partner. It will create a ghostly companion for you, which questions all my choices to the questions asked, with phrases such as “You say you value your friends above all, but isn’t romantic love the highest form of friendship?” Same for family and every other question. There are animals on the islands, some you pet, some you feed, but there are puzzles around getting some to their mates, because it’s all about couples!
- Worse still and this is the greatest sin, at the end you’re presented with a binary choice: Join your would be companion on a bench, to live happily ever after or go your own way, sailing away. But if you pick that option, you’ll see your boat and theirs separated by a barrier, as if your sea were a different one from them…until about 5 meters away from the dock where the barrier ends, leaving you both on the same sea, as if saying that just because you chose to go at it alone, they’re still out there waiting for you.
On a personal note. I’m a sucker for romance. I love a good romantic story and I consider myself a bit of a romantic when it comes to relationships. But this idea that you’re worthless without a partner, incomplete even, I don’t agree with (one of the reasons I absolutely detest the term “other/better half” to refer to a partner) and the constant nagging about it in Solo has elevated my dislike for this game to a profound loathing.