With a straightforward name like “MonsterBlast”, the subject matter of the game should be clear. You play as a big, blocky man whose sole purpose in life seems to be blasting monsters; at the start of the game that’s all you know. There isn’t a tutorial to ease you in – which isn’t really a bad thing, seeing as MonsterBlast is, again, incredibly straightforward.
The game can be summed up pretty easily. It takes place over 24 levels in four different worlds. There are player upgrades that can be applied at the end of each level, and every couple of levels is a boss fight. There are three difficulties to pick from – kids, normal, and hard. I played through on normal and managed to beat the game in just under three hours.
The most distinguishing thing about MonsterBlast is it’s unique art style. As stated earlier you are a big, blocky man, and blocky seems to be the name of the game. Well, the name of the game is MonsterBlast – but you know what I mean. Anyways, most of the enemies take the form of blocks and other misshapen things, usually with ridiculously large eyes, and their primary form of attack is that of just running at you.
As you progress through MonsterBlast some of these monsters actually figure out that running straight at a guy with a gun is probably not the best way to take him out. So they adopt ranged attacks of their own which, surprise surprise, happens to be using their own guns. Some enemies decide to take a unique route by causing bullets to shoot out, dropping bombs, or even emitting a plum of toxic smoke when they die.
These interactions are a bit weird at first since there isn’t much of an indication that these things would happen. Especially the toxic cloud one. In fact, when I was still figuring out the game I was seeing my health just randomly drop after killing some enemies and wasn’t sure why. This is because the cloud they emit is incredibly faint, blends into the background, and doesn’t last very long.
It’s not a bug and it’s not really a bad thing; it’s just not done very well. Which brings me to my main point. I said MonsterBlast can be summed up pretty easily and, while everything I said before is accurate, I think the best way to describe the game is it’s not necessarily bad, but it’s just not as good as it could be.
Everything works and is functional, and I was able to beat everything MonsterBlast could throw at me pretty easily, but there isn’t much strategy or thought that has to go into playing. And some of that might be on me for having false expectations. Upon booting up MonsterBlast the game feels a lot like a roguelike, and maybe that’s just because I’ve played too much Enter the Gungeon.
Upon dying I was expecting to restart from the beginning of the game and then replay through it, but that is not the case. The few times I actually died, I simply respawned at the beginning of the level and continued on, which I think leads to the game feeling too slow. If it was a roguelike, the action could be faster paced, the levels could be shorter, and I think it would feel more satisfying to make progress.
On the other hand, since it is structured there is also a leveling system in place. At the end of each stage you will gain experience based on how many enemies you defeated. It’s possible to clear every room to farm experience, and I’m sure this would be helpful if playing on hard.
The levels you earn let you increase your health, firepower, or luck. Firepower and luck were the two most important in my experience. Firepower obviously lets you do more damage but luck increases your chances of getting access to good item drops from the chests scattered throughout the levels. These could be health drops, sentry turrets, or shields, and they are very helpful. They can drop bombs instead, and they do this a lot more with low luck. But getting these drops is the only way to heal.
Another issue I have is that MonsterBlast doesn’t require much thought or strategy to play. If you can run in circles and serpentine around enemies as you shoot behind you, then you already know all of the strategy you need to. The levels are randomly generated, but each room is a square and, even though the layouts may change, it all becomes very familiar very quickly. The different worlds will introduce some new enemies and different styles, but the maps themselves stay pretty much the same.
The enemies aren’t very intelligent either. The AI is very simple, and if you manage to put a wall between them and you, they will just run at it while you slowly pick them off. It’s even possible to walk up against the walls and shoot enemies through it. I’m assuming this is an issue with the models being bigger than they look, because enemies also get caught on the scenery quite easily too.
The bosses aren’t much better since they all feel like they deliver the same fight, just with slight differences. They shoot at you for a bit, then stand still so you can shoot at them and the cycle repeats. Afterwards you move on to the next level to find the next boss and do it all over again.
All of that being said, MonsterBlast does make for a good casual experience and it’s an easy 1000 Gamerscore if you decide to play through it. I found everything to be a bit on the slow side for my liking, but the game isn’t plagued with bugs or glitches. The developers even put a little thank you at the end of the game, which I always like to see. It shows that the team behind it worked hard on it. It’s not necessarily my cup of tea, but if you’re looking for a casual experience and an easy 1000 Gamerscore than MonsterBlast on Xbox One might be the game for you.