Developer: Nerdook | Publisher: Digerati Distribution | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Action / Indie | Website: n/a | Purchase: Steam
After the very successful release of Vertical Drop Heroes HD and Reverse Crawl, Nerdook is back with Monster Slayers. Everyone who has played the aforementioned titles will know how addictive they are and how easy it is to lose hours when all you wanted to do was play a quick game. Monster Slayers is no exception, so if your time is precious you might find yourself in trouble when booting up this little gem.
At its heart Monster Slayers is a rogue-like adventure, but the addition of deck-building and RPG features makes it even more compelling. The game opens with you creating a custom character who can be either a rogue, ranger, knight, barbarian, cleric or wizard and then joining the Monster Guild. It would appear that monsters have overrun the Northern Valley and a hero is needed to go do some slaying. Your ultimate goal is to prepare your hero for the final showdown against the legendary Harbinger, but it is going to take a lot of time and dedication before you really have a shot at accomplishing this feat. Thankfully, the journey is extremely entertaining and even after sinking hours into Monster Slayers we still find ourselves returning to it every chance we have.
Players who are familiar with previous titles by Nerdook will know that this talented developer has a knack for streamlining his games and stripping away everything that can get in the way of the fun. In Monster Slayers you get to pick your destination, which ranges from Crystal Caverns and Forbidden Deserts to Dead Forests and Quagmire Swamps, before doing some slaying. Your opponents consist of skeletal mages, undead rogues, spiders, bats, dragons and a whole bunch of other fantasy foes. Taking them on is done in a turn-based manner, but without the tedious, stat-heavy style that scares away so many people from the genre. Instead, all your attacks and abilities come in the form of cards, which means you can customize your deck just the way you want. New cards can be found hidden away in treasure chests or you can buy them from the merchants who also hang out in the Norther Valley. You might even run into some allies while adventuring and receive a few cards from them.
Combat is very simple and you begin each battle with three randomly selected cards from your deck. The amount you can use depend on your available action points and, in the case of magical spells, your mana. Bring your opponents health down to zero before they do the same to you and you reap the rewards in the form of experience points and loot. However, if your hero is killed, they are gone for good and only the fame they have gained as well as the equipment they found are carried over. This is very important as fame increases your rank and allows you to unlock new perks and cards, which makes subsequent attempts a little easier.
Equipment is also vital as they boost the stats of your characters, but you can bring along one weapon and three items, so pick carefully. Before venturing out to do battle, you also get to choose one of two random party members to accompany you on your quest. Although they don’t attack enemies directly, each has their own special ability that you can activate during battle to help you out. These are very useful, but come with a cooldown, so it is best to save them for when you really need them.
Although Monster Slayers look a little chaotic in the screenshots, playing the game couldn’t be any simpler. The interface is very streamlined and you’ll be able to get the hang of how everything works in no time. Thanks to the different cards and character classes there is always a new tactic or strategy to try out, which ups the replay value considerably. Gaining fame and getting to unlock new abilities, such as boosting the criticals and offense of characters, improving their starting health points or improving the odds for health potions dropping will also keep you coming back for more. You can even unlock new talents for your companions, which makes them even more useful. In addition, the game features leaderboards that are based on your fame, which provides an extra incentive to play a little longer. Since the levels, enemies you encounter and loot you can find are all randomly generated, the game doesn’t suffer from repetition either.
Visually, Monster Slayers is definitely a step up from Reverse Crawl and while the art style remains similar, everything now looks more polished and detailed. We love the design of the characters and creatures while each area has its own background theme. Everything is viewed from a side-on perspective while the animations are rather basic everything just looks so charming it is hard not to get drawn in. Characters can be customized with different hair styles and colors plus they are also shown wearing or wielding the armor and weapons you give them. In addition, the game features a rather rousing soundtrack with different tunes for each location. The sound effects are crystal clear and definitely add to the atmosphere of the game. We are particularly fond of the 16-bit sounding effects that accompany some actions. Surprisingly, the game features some rather nice speech as well and you get to choose the voice for your character. Although these are limited to screams, shouts and catchphrases during battle, they definitely add to the polished feel of the game. The game even has an announcer who sounds like he stepped right out of Mortal Kombat to announce “Perfect” or “Victory!”
In typical Nerdook fashion the controls have been kept very simple and everything from choosing your next destination to playing cards or equipping items are handled with straightforward mouse-clicks. Each location is split up into square blocks and you get to pick which one you want to visit. These blocks remain inaccessible until you have visited an adjacent one, so you never know what you might be facing next. It could be a powerful foe, a camp site where you can improve your stats, a healer, an ancient altar, or friendly characters that can grant you cards or upgrades.
Overall there is very little that we can fault about Monster Slayers, even after racking up hours of playing time. The game is certainly no walk in the park and even a well equipped character wielding a lethal deck can be wiped out by some of the later enemies if you are not really careful. This can be a little frustrating if your luck runs out, but every time it happened, we just found ourselves jumping straight back in with a new character. While we are not familiar with the original free web-based title on which this Steam version of the game is based, we can say that it is worth every penny. If you already own Vertical Drop Heroes or Reverse Crawl you should add Monster Slayers to your collection immediately, especially as it means you get a sizable launch discount for being a previous customer. If you have yet to experience the addictive fun of a Nerdook title, then you are in for an even bigger treat. As far as addictive time killers go, they don’t come much better than Monster Slayers.
- OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
- Processor: Processor 2 GHz (Dual Core)
- Memory: 256 MB RAM
- Graphics: OpenGL 2.1 compatible 3D graphics card with 256 MB VRAM
- DirectX: Version 9.0
- Storage: 40 MB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card