What is Monster Crown?
Monster Crown is a turn-based creature-collecting RPG with a dark story in which you make pacts with monsters. It’s in development from Studio Aurum and is published by SOEDESCO.
When does Monster Crown launch?
Monster Crown is already out for PC and Switch, but we don’t have long to wait until Monster Crown launches for Xbox on February 22nd!
“This is my first game and first time porting to consoles, foolishly, I decided I would do it all myself! Porting is a fun process from a technological standpoint, you learn a lot, and it’s rewarding to finally see it up and running well,” says Walsh. “However, doing so with an online game multiplies complexity, it’s a whole different ball-game. Thankfully I had Blossom, my producer at Soedesco, to help me out with it. She offered a lot of guidance and patience in this brand new endeavor, so I’m very proud that we’re able to bring this game to more consoles.”
What’s it about?
“In Monster Crown, you’re just a 14-year-old farm kid that receives their first monster, unfortunately — as you trek out on a simple request by your father you get pulled into a much darker plot.” We’re told on the game’s Steam page that we need to defeat “an evil young woman seeking power,” and Walsh elaborates on this, adding, “By some unknown scheme, she seems to be pursuing power at all costs. Through your journey, you meet a guy a few years older than you named David who seems to have a bit of a history with Beth and has some knowledge of the goals of her twisted plans. Ultimately she’s seeking four powerful artifacts that she plans to use in a ritual, and it’s your job to beat her to them!”
Monster Crown sets itself apart with a darker and more mature story and world. “Being a big fan of the early Pokemon games I saw the inklings of a slightly more rough-and-tumble world in their concept art and wondered how the games could’ve been different if that path had been taken instead of the friendlier approach they went with,” explains Walsh. “Clearly there was a lot of inspiration from Dragon Ball and other anime of the time. I was a big fan of anime like these, growing up with a vibrant world, but with brutes that would pose a threat to the protagonist, both human and monster. I wanted to represent a more dangerous world that has threats in humans and monsters alike, while also giving it a bit more of a western vibe as that’s the culture I grew up in, however, you can’t make it entirely gritty or dark or you lose the charm of a world with incredible monsters you want to make your own!”
How does Monster Crown play?
Making pacts with monsters, and going on to breed them, are fundamental to Monster Crown’s gameplay. It’s an interesting idea, to have the monsters willingly form pacts with you. “I imagined, if the world had monsters in it instead of animals, why would they want to join you on your journey? Why are they not just happier in their natural habitat that they evolved to exist in? So the monster had to want to gain something by coming with you,” explains Walsh, elaborating on the in-game reasoning behind the phenomenon. “If you watch the early episodes of Pokemon it seems a Pokemon can be hostile one minute, but once it goes in the ball, for the most part it becomes friendly (even if respect has to be earned in some cases). The more I thought about this the more it felt like sudden brainwashing or alignment changes. It’s a gameplay element being adapted for an anime so of course you have to give it some leeway, however, I wanted to do something different. It’s generally understood that animals want to be the alpha of their territory; be the biggest, strongest, have the best access to resources — you see this in lions,” continues Walsh. “So Monsters want the same thing, they know that travelling with a powerful tamer will leave them stronger, far above their wild peers, so they’re willing to go with you and become powerful with the agreement being that one day you’ll return them to their territory to rule like kings.” And how are these pacts formed? “Of course monsters can’t read human language, they’re smart but more on a caveman-level, so the symbols are divine, mythical creations in this world that no one truly understands, but they convey a message to the monster that means ‘You come help me with my goals, and I will make you very powerful.’” Walsh adds that the monsters “only agree if you seem like someone that is up to the task, they will scoff at your pacts if you seem like a wimp!”
Walsh tells us that “Monster Crown’s world is open, you can go to any region of it just as soon as you leave the tutorial region.” In Monster Crown, “the limit is not a hard one on players via roadblocks, but is instead a very real-world-esque barrier — the monsters in other areas may be quite strong and you might get wrecked if you head into those places unprepared. There’s also a huge focus on sticking to the beaten path if you’re a newbie. Those areas are safer but as you head into the deep wilderness you’ll find stronger tamers to fight, and powerful monsters that can swoop onto your screen and take you out in no time. Basically, your limit is your bravery!”
Walsh continues, adding, “each time you boot up the game (or each morning if you keep playing without pause) the game refills with lots of great content, new tamers to battle and trade, new items to find and even wild monster eggs to come across! You can find very cool eggs in nests around the world but each time you take one you run the risk of Mom showing up! So be very careful.” As Walsh described, “All areas of Monster Crown follow a rule that risk and reward scales with your bravery, but also, the stakes are high.” Easy is the default mode, but if you play on Normal, your items are lost when you’re knocked out, and you’ll have to find where you died to get your bag back. “It makes for very engaging and exciting exploration and the game is packed to the brim with secrets ready to award those that love to experiment.”
Making pacts with monsters is integral to the game, but breeding new crossbreeds is just as important. “People usually find Monster Crown pretty fun and engaging in the early portions of the game, but that explodes when they unlock breeding a few hours in — suddenly you can breed any two monsters together and create interesting new crossbreeds that are wholly your own,” explains Walsh. “Once players unlock this function, it’s common for them to lose hours to experimenting with this mechanic before they go any further. While developing this feature I thought it’d be a lot of fun and the reception we’ve gotten from players since our PC and Switch release on this mechanic has been nothing but excitement — I can’t explain how excited I get when a player tweets at me with their creation, using a form, color and appearance that they dreamt up – it’s like infinite pixel monsters for me!”
What’s the world like?
We’re told that Crown Island has a history of “sadistic rulers and heroic saviors.” It’s a large continent and, Walsh adds, “as far as anyone knows, the only one on the planet — it’s only sea in all directions. This isn’t helped by the fact that the coasts are stalked by ever-watching monsters, Epheal, who appear a bit like a white loch ness monster and will destroy anyone that comes too close. Humanity is in a way, stranded. But the people have made peace with their land and learned to survive,” Walsh continues. “Technology and civilization have had a hard time developing, the wilds can be quite dangerous, but people are making do.” To give an idea of whereabouts they’re at with their technological process, Walsh explains that “the people of the island are actually working on building the first ever train.”
It doesn’t help that up until 20 years ago they were ruled by brutal tyrants that didn’t appear quite human,” we’re told. “After hundreds of years of that, the young generation finally had enough and fought back — leading to an era of peace on Crown Island, and that’s the era the player is born in. But it turns out the battle might not yet be wholly won…”
Any news on Monster Crown achievements?
We have the Monster Crown achievements if you want to check them out ahead of the game’s launch, and Walsh also gave us an idea of the team’s design process. “With a single-player, story-driven game it makes sense to award achievements with goal-posts of the story,” Walsh begins. “I think we all love that moment where we see an awesome cutscene and as it fades to black and back to gameplay, we see that satisfying achievement unlock. It’s part of the monumental feeling of so many games I’ve played! That being said, because the game is so exploration driven, there are two achievements related to finding unique monsters as well, ones that can be very tough to track down. I hope players have fun unlocking these and I know it’ll add to the excitement and reward of those moments.”
Your choices in Monster Crown affect the ending, and we also wondered whether this would have an impact on the achievements. “At one point in development I considered having the available monsters switch depending on your choices as a sort of new take on the ‘split versions’ concept,” explains Walsh. “However, for me as a huge introvert I like being able to obtain all monsters on my own so I don’t have to trade if I don’t want to, and additionally, the story choice in Monster Crown is so tied to each person’s individual view of the world and morals it felt wrong to force people to choose the route that didn’t resonate with their personal feelings. For that reason, all monsters and achievements are obtainable in both paths. I really want the choice to be nothing but a moral and personal one for the player, not one they do to obtain a monster or achievement, for that reason it’s its own entity entirely.”
So, what do you think? Will you be trying out Monster Crown when it launches later this month? Let us know in the comments!