Monster Slayers is an addictive mix of deck building and dungeon crawling that will keep you coming back for another crack at the Harbinger.
Monster Slayers follows the story of individual adventurers who yearn for fame and glory. Lonely mercenaries join the Monster Slayers Guild in hopes of slaying legendary beasts and going down in history as a true Monster Slayer. When an adventurer joins the guild, they are equipped with nothing more than a junk weapon and a deck of cards. Their goal? Slay enemies, dodge traps, and defeat bosses to make their way to the Harbinger. If they can somehow take down the legendary Harbinger, they can retire as a successful and famous Monster Slayer. If they can’t (and they likely can’t), their fame, equipment, and a percent of their gold goes on to help future adventurers setting out on the same journey.
Adventurers can choose from a variety of classes when they set out. Before beating the Harbinger, there are six classes to choose from: Rogue, Ranger, Knight, Barbarian, Cleric, and Wizard. If the player can beat the Harbinger with one of the original six classes, they unlock a new class associated with the one they won with. For example, beating the Harbinger with the Rogue unlocks an Assassin class, and winning as the Wizard unlocks a Necromancer.
Each of the classes, including the unlockable, classes all have unique cards and playstyles. Rogues focus on chaining multiple cards together for huge amounts of damage. Wizards blast enemies away with powerful mana-heavy spells. It’s really impressive to see such uniqueness from the different characters, which makes for a ton of replayability.
The game is also incredibly well balanced. Not only do all of the classes feel powerful in their own way, but Monster Slayers does a great job of slowly progressing the player with each playthrough. Other than the odd misstep along the way, you can visibly see yourself getting slightly more powerful with each new playthrough. However, when you finally do defeat the Harbinger, your hero retires and takes with them all the equipment they had on them. This means if you had a single set of powerful equipment on that character, you’ll have to grind your way back up to that power level to defeat the Harbinger again.
Monster Slayers also has a ton of strategy to it, and not just in the actual battles; even the map screen takes a lot of thought. When your character levels up, they regain all of their health, but otherwise there isn’t much healing in the game. You really have to think about which battles to fight depending on how much health you have left and how close you are to levelling up. There’s also a lot of neutral events on the map, like healers, characters that level up cards, merchants, and buffs that should all be visited in a proper order for maximum benefit.
The decisions continue when it comes to the persistent upgrades. There are over 70 different upgrades to purchase; some of which are generic to all characters, others are unique to specific classes, and the remaining few focus on companions you may encounter in your adventure. Over the course of a run you’ll likely only gain one or two upgrade points, so you have to choose wisely. With only a single undo available on your save file, class specific upgrades are great for a few playthroughs, but leave future classes weaker. Companion upgrades are powerful, but are risky since you only encounter four out of a possible eight companions per run, so you may not reap the benefits.
Once you beat the Harbinger for the first time, you unlock Legendary mode. For a game that’s already quite challenging, Legendary mode turns the dial up to 11. All equipment that you have on your character is lost when they die, which makes it very risky to equip your character with your best gear. Armour and accessories don’t grant any health boost, which, especially at lower levels, can mean upwards of 50% less health. Then the enemy decks themselves are a lot more powerful, and the Harbinger is not the final boss. All in all, Legendary mode is truly for the real Monster Slayers.
The Action Point and Mana system is a real highlight of Monster Slayers. Characters all start out with AP/Mana, and it is regenerated each round. One of the biggest problems with card games that have resource systems is when you get unlucky enough not to draw any resources or have your hand filled with nothing but resources. Having a system where both sides are assured to be able to play a few useful cards per turn leads to a lot less frustration and a lot more fun.
On top of a really fun base game, there’s a lot of other great content and polish in Monster Slayers. First and most impressively is the voice acting. Along with a lot of the minor in-game characters being voiced, the character creation screen greets the player with six unique female voices and six different unique male voices. There’s quite a bit of variety there, which is really impressive for a small studio.
If you’re a fan of deck building or dungeon crawlers then Monster Slayers is a must try. For the $9 price tag there is an insane amount of content and replayability. Even just beating the Harbinger a single time is worth the price of admission, let alone trying out all the classes and taking a shot at Legendary mode. It’s hard to come up with anything negative to say about Monster Slayers; it’s really just a fun and balanced good time.