In the world of gaming, there are a lot of games that have been released which have become popular. One such game is Monster Harvest by N3V Games.
With the debut of Stardew Valley in 2016, fans of agricultural simulations who grew up with games like Harvest Moon were spoilt. With the genre resurrected, it’s only natural that indies and bigger studios alike began attempting to capitalize on Eric Barone’s success with the once-loved genre.
While there are plenty of versions that blatantly replicate Stardew Valley’s concepts, Monster Harvest tries to bring something new to the mix by incorporating monster-catching and fighting elements from the Pokémon series into an otherwise straightforward farming game.
Monster Harvest fails to capitalize on the mechanics found in the Pokémon series by keeping things too simple to be truly engaging, while also staying too close to the game it takes inspiration from first and foremost, despite adding an interesting twist to what could otherwise be called a Stardew Valley clone.
Review of Monster Harvest: Gotta Grow ‘Em All!
Monster Harvest plunges a wide-eyed city lad into the rustic farm life when a long-lost family member delivers a letter – beckoning you to your real love — like every classic farming sim has done since the beginning of time.
This time, it’s an uncle whose property has become overgrown and in in need of some major elbow grease, and your character must go in head first with no previous farming experience or expertise. While your uncle is still alive and well in this realm, he is preoccupied with his research and has given up farming (which is kind of ironic).
While the narrative is as generic as they come, the ability to create your own Poké-like companions, known as Planimals, offers a unique touch to an otherwise typical farming simulation.
The monster-catching mechanisms that your uncle uncovered via his research with strange slimes found in the region are the only really new features in Monster Harvest. Adding these slimes to basic crops may result in a variety of outcomes, including mutant crops, farm animals, and the pièce de résistance—Planimal friends that will battle for you in the Stardew Valley version of the mining/caves region.
You’ll take these animals into the underground to battle monsters discovered in the tall grass in traditional Pokémon manner while working against a nefarious company seeking to exploit this discovery for pure evil.
Unfortunately, that’s where the fun begins and stops, since the fighting system is bare-bones and offers nothing in the way of excitement or actual use when combined with the rest of the game’s elements. It’s on its own and doesn’t create a strong first impression.
Leaving aside the new mechanics, you’re left with a decent agricultural sim that clings to its origins a little too tightly. The cleaning of your farm, the process of farming and upgrading equipment, and the system for selling crops and participating in local activities all look and operate just like Stardew Valley.
You’re playing a substandard version of Stardew Valley from start to finish, apart from using the aforementioned slimes. Similar mechanisms don’t function as well as they did in earlier versions in the locations where you’d find them.
Monster Harvest’s well-made graphics and music allow it to stand on its own two feet. The soothing music featured in this environment is soothing and fits in well with the kind of casual farming sim experience you’re looking for. While the graphics have a similar pixelated aesthetic, there is enough variation to avoid seeming like a complete imitation.
While there are a few glitches here and there that detract from the experience, they aren’t significant enough to make it unplayable. Performance, on the other hand, was excellent across the board, with smooth frames and no hiccups.
The Bottom Line in Monster Harvest’s Review
- Great graphics and music assist to keep things interesting.
- If you’re looking for a farming simulator similar to others you’ve played, this one won’t let you down.
- Attempts to differentiate itself through unique mechanisms…
- …Those mechanisms don’t work because they seem unfinished.
- It lacks originality due to cliches and clichés.
- Throughout the board, there have been a slew of bad encounters.
Monster Harvest aimed to replicate the fundamental structure of the award-winning Stardew Valley while also including Pokémon’s distinctive monster-catching and RPG elements, and it succeeded.
The problem is that the standard farming sim mechanics lack the complexity and subtlety required for Monster Harvest to really stand out, while simultaneously failing to capitalize on the new features by making them uninteresting and downright monotonous.
You couldn’t do much worse than Monster Harvest if you’re looking for another farming sim, but for all of its promise, it’s a shame that the only areas it succeeded in were its graphics and music.
[A copy of Monster Harvest was given by Merge Games for this review.]