amazon MONARK reviews
When it comes to the terms “school”, “Japanese role-playing – JRPG”, and “devil”… many people will immediately think of ATLUS’s extremely popular Persona series.
The carefully crafted specific elements have made the Persona series of games rise from the sub-version of the famous Shin Megami Tensei series into a separate game series (latest version: Shin Megami Tensei V), independent and attractive, no less than the original.
Recently, Lancarse – the studio that has collaborated with ATLUS, BANDAI NAMCO – tried his hand at a school-themed RPG similar to the Persona series, with an impressive name: MONARK.
This promises to be one of the prominent names of the role-playing game village in 2022.
Set in the fictional Shin Mikado academy. MONARK will put players in the role of a mysterious amnesiac student who happens to have special powers. Along with his companions, he must uncover the mystery of himself, the barrier that is isolating the school, as well as the mysterious fog that is driving the students in the school crazy.
With a reputation as the “old developers” of the Shin Megami Tensei series, how does MONARK, Lancarse’s latest product, perform?
The combat system in MONARK is still basically a classic Japanese TRPG (Tactical Role-playing game) but has been tweaked to make them more interesting.
In general, the matches in the game are still turn-based and players still have to arrange their characters on the battlefield to get the most perfect coordination.
However, the difference of MONARK is that instead of moving characters according to predefined grids, players will now be able to move quite freely in the “zone” of movement corresponding to each character.
With each turn, you will have to arrange the characters you have to best suit the skills and forte of the characters, to achieve the most optimal coordination with the squad you own.
Combined with the above factors, MONARK also introduces a state system MAD and AWAKEN. Each status will have different effects on the characters, both positive and negative. In MONARK there is no MP system.
Instead, when using skills, characters will have to “pay” with a portion of HP or increase or decrease the MAD bar respectively. Therefore, for each turn, the player must have the most careful calculation, avoiding unnecessary waste of turns, especially in boss battles.
Each battle screen in MONARK is scored, based on which the player will receive a corresponding amount of Spirits.
The more specific actions you take in battle, the higher your rank will be. It could be ending the battle in as few turns as possible, using specialized skills, assisting other characters to destroy the enemy… Battles of high difficulty will also have the same Spirits “bonus” level.
These Spirits points will be used to upgrade, and “unlock” skills for the character through the corresponding skill tree.
Each character has a separate skill table, while the amount of Spirits points received is quite limited. Therefore, you will have to calculate carefully to upgrade the squad most reasonably.
It can be said that the entire content of MONARK will revolve around Ego and Seven Deadly Sins.
In the beginning, you will have to answer a series of questions to find out what your true Ego is. It could be Lust, Sloth, Pride, Envy, Greed, Gluttony, and Rage.
Through this test, you will be “given” a Fiend corresponding to your most outstanding sin.
Besides the playable characters, the aforementioned “friends” are the most effective companions to the main character, an extremely important support force in combat.
Through the process of playing, the more enemies you destroy, the stronger these fiends become, just like the sins that grow in the life of each person in real life.
It sounds odd, but being faithful to the theme of “Ego & Seven Deadly Sins” is the brightest point that MONARK brings to players.
Even the companions participating in the player’s journey will be designed to match the general theme that the game has set.
Through fighting, exploring the world, and talking with people around, players will gradually shape their egos.
This is a very interesting approach, instead of just upgrading the stats for the characters, the choices will now become more meaningful and in-depth.
First, it must be affirmed immediately that not all aspects of MONARK’s graphics are bad. In contrast, the game owns a very impressive and consistent graphic style throughout the game.
The user interface (UI), character information board, skill tree, and equipment table…all have a uniform and harmonious color scheme.
The game’s character design is done by so-bin, the artist behind the famous Overlord book series, and indeed, the characters in MONARK all look quite impressive and unique.
Unfortunately, this is also the only advantage.
The 3D models of the characters are very careless, the main and minor characters both look very lifeless, the textures are not well cared for, and the facial expressions in the cutscenes are also not well-taken and look ridiculous.
Sometimes, the writer feels that these are not “people” but just a bunch of models that have been hurriedly and sloppily painted.
Even the monster horde model is pretty much the same, from the usual “slurred” monsters to the higher level monsters there is not much difference. Although the bosses are well designed, their number is not much.
Overall, the graphics quality of MONARK is just average. Despite knowing that the Nintendo Switch’s hardware does not allow for too many “fashionable” effects, there are many games that do better than MONARK despite being released a long time ago.
The problem here is that Larcase’s laziness and lack of investment have made the “picture” part of MONARK quite trivial and outdated.
Throughout the game, often caught your eye are the corridors, classrooms, stairs, and potted plants … extremely monotonous and stereotypical. Even Lancarse is “lazy” to the point of using repeated environmental designs that make the scene in the game almost similar.
In terms of world exploration, MONARK also performed quite “slow”. During the game, you will find pieces of paper notes, notebooks … of NPCs containing necessary information. Through it, players will proceed to explore and solve mysteries in the game.
However, their level of challenge is mostly not high, and it seems to be just a few small obstacles in the course of the game’s main plot.
They are too simple and completely not worth the effort that the player spends to complete, and more obnoxious is that you are forced to do them to be able to continue the main storyline.
In terms of combat, MONARK is not much better, despite having many interesting ideas. The actual battlefield in MONARK does not take place at Shin Mikado Academy but is done by… using a phone, and the player will then teleport to another dimension where the real enemies are hiding.
It wouldn’t be worth mentioning if this was cleverly arranged, but sadly MONARK chose to do it as bland as possible. And after each such battle, the player has to… choose the screen on the phone if he wants to continue fighting.
It can be said that boredom is the fatal weakness of MONARK, making players gradually feel tired. Sadly, this weakness cannot be fixed soon.
Another “obnoxious” point of MONARK is forcing players to “train” a lot if they want to keep up with the progress in the game.
From the first hours of play, you feel the game is very “challenging”, but this challenge does not come from the variety of monsters, their wisdom, or unique screen design, but simply… you are too weak!
Indeed, throughout the game, players often “fall behind” and need to “train” quite a lot to be able to keep up with the progress of the game. To upgrade character skills, and increase “levels”… the only way is to “earn” Spirits points as much as possible.
All you need to do if you want to “level up” your character is to repeat a few levels over and over with a fixed enemy.
More sadly, from the very first moments of the game, you had to do this over and over again if you didn’t want to be “pushed out” by the boss because of a lack of equipment, as well as skills. The excessive “training” causes MONARK to create a boring loop, causing the player’s motivation to play the game is also greatly reduced.
In the early stages, this weakness has not been shown too clearly, but later on, the time for each battle screen becomes longer, causing the MONARK experience to seriously decrease. Combined with the boring environment mentioned above, the game becomes more tedious than necessary.
where can you get a MONARK online
Monark: Deluxe Edition – PlayStation 5: Buy it now
MONARK Deluxe Edition (PS4) (PS4): Buy it now
Monark [Korean Edition] – Nintendo Switch: Buy it now
MONARK Deluxe Edition (PS5) (PS5): Buy it now
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