Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review

monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review

Pokémon and Metroid had a baby, and it totally works!

  • System: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch
  • Publisher: Team 17
  • Developer: Moi Rai Games
  • Release Date: December 8, 2020

Monster Sanctuary Launch Trailer

Who it Caters to

monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review
Monster Sanctuary is an indie game catered to all those who enjoy collecting and training monsters but are rather tired of the same old formula. In this game, rules have changed, and the focus is on adventure and exploration. Basically, everyone who enjoyed games like Metroid, the old The Legend of Zelda titles, or the recent Ori saga will have a blast with this one, more so if you also like Digimon, Pokémon, or even Temtem.

What to Expect

monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review
The one thing you should expect from this game is a perfect combination of two popular genres. Some rules have been simplified in favor of a better single-player experience, while others have been slightly altered to fit the story. You will be battling against other people and random monsters in the wild, but forget about annoying random encounters and gym battles. Monster Sanctuary could be all about solving puzzles and platforming, or you could take it as yet another competitive game. Whatever the case, it's a much-needed breath of fresh air!


monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review
Pixel-art is the new black, but not all indie games make good use of it. Monster Sanctuary is one of the games that feel like a perfect match, using pixelated maps and characters to pay tribute to the origins of the two genres it combines. When your game is based around a hundred monsters and their looks, however, more detailed 3D graphics will always sound like a better option, but Monster Sanctuary looks really good for what it is. Of course, not everyone is a fan of retro graphics, and we have to say some monster designs are not of our liking, but it's easier to ignore it when you're actually having fun.

Sound, Music

monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review
Monster Sanctuary has one of the best OST of 2020! Every biome feels unique not only thanks to how they look but especially thanks to the music, and that's one of the things we like the most. Plus, the combat and Infinity Arena themes are exactly what we want from a battle song, pumping you up for the action without getting boring after a few encounters.

This game is a perfect example of the 'less is more' approach, where everything is just right and nothing appears overdone.


monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review
Monster Sanctuary is a monster collecting game, where you can catch and train up to 101 creatures. However, collecting them is just a part of the adventure!

In other games, you could just focus on the monsters you like, be it because of how they look or how powerful they are. In this one, you also need to take into account their Explore Abilities, a special skill that you must use outside of combat to solve puzzles and access different areas. Some monsters can activate elemental orbs, some can help you push rocks and heavy objects, some can be used as mounts, etc. That's an interesting mechanic because it forces you to find specific monsters that otherwise you might ignore, but it also makes you investigate about them since not all Explore Abilities are obvious.

monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review
As for the combat, your team can have up to 6 monsters, but most fights start as a 3v3. Instead of random encounters, you'll find that all wild monsters come in fixed teams set to specific locations, which is quite different from other games. If you don't want to fight them, you can just jump over them and continue with your adventure, so going from point A to point B is way less annoying now—which helps a lot in a metroidvania game.

Another thing Monster Sanctuary makes different is the turn-based combat, as you can decide the order of your attacks regardless of your monster's speed/initiative. If it's your turn, you can choose the order of your attacks, and that brings us to another interesting mechanic: the combo system. The more hits, the higher damage the next attack will deal! This is not that important at first, but it's crucial in PvP and harder battles against Champion monsters. And what are Champion monsters? Well, these are special creatures that have more HP and strike harder than their normal counterpart. Defeating Champions is one of the goals of the game, and the more you defeat, the higher your Keeper (the equivalent to Trainer or Tamer) rank will be. In fact, you need a specific rank to unlock certain modes like online PvP or the Infinity Arena, as well as other post-game activities.

monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review
If you want a new monster, you need to drop a monster egg. On the one hand, drop rates are low and it won't be easy to find the one you want/need... but at least you can hatch the egg as soon as you get it, and the hatchling will have the same level as your highest monster. This is great because you are not really wasting your time. If you want better drop rates, then you need to up your ante and become a better Keeper, since dealing more damage and finishing a battle in fewer turns will grant you better rewards—and sometimes, this is the only way to unlock the chance for a rare item.

All in all, Monster Sanctuary is a game that does a lot of things right in terms of monster breeding and combat mechanics. In fact, every monster has a unique skill tree that can be easily reset at any moment with a not-so-expensive item, so you can change their build for better synergy with your newly-found monsters or just start over now you have more experience in battle. In fact, all monsters can be equipped with a weapon and 3 pieces of gear, so that means more end-game options!

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review
Monster Sanctuary is a fantastic game, but sadly, there's no competitive scene as of now (in PS4, at least). That really hurts the game because it took us way too much time to find a PvP match, but also because the ladder doesn't even look intimidating...

You can take it as a single-player endeavor and have fun for around 20 hours, or start training and theory-crafting so you're ready when more people start jumping into competitive battles. 101 creatures are waiting for you, and if you like metroidvania games, you definitely want to try this one!

Honey's Pros:

  • There's a fair share of challenging puzzles and Champion monsters to keep you busy.
  • The battle mechanics are quite interesting, especially thanks to the combo system and the use of monster gear.

Honey's Cons:

  • We honestly wish the story was longer... although it isn't actually short.
  • If you are into the competitive scene, try the PC (Steam) version instead.

Honey's Final Verdict:

What do you think of this unexpected combination? We had a blast playing Monster Sanctuary, and we can't wait for more explorable areas and monsters in future updates!

If you too want to become a Keeper, you can find Monster Sanctuary on PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch.

monster_sanctuary_splash Monster Sanctuary - PlayStation 4 Review


Author: Rod Locksley

Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...

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