Sunday, June 11, 2017

Monster Hunter Stories: Final Impressions, Thoughts

My thoughts on the game, upon finishing the main story. Of course, there is plenty to do after you beat the game, and Capcom provides new quests and updates (the DLC are free, BTW). I haven't really explored all of that, but so I can only touch a bit on that.

Oh, and last time I checked, the localized version should be coming out this year too. Since the language in the game is... "Monster Hunter language" (except for a few lines), I'm sure the dubbing was easy... (since there wasn't much need for new dubbing)

So before I actually get into the game...
So yeah, I was given a 50% off couple from Capcom. I think they gave it to anyone who had Monster Hunter data on their account? And I took the opportunity to buy the game. I've always had interest in it, but never really got around the buying it. But 50% off?! On a full game?! Well yeah, totally count me in.

You might wonder, well, why would they give such a discount? I think the main reason for this is to get more people to know about it. Monster Hunter... in a new genre? It would be natural to be wary of the content.
You see, when the demo first came out, it didn't really help the general impression of the public. Of course, there is a limit to what you can do without spoiling the audience, so sometimes, it cannot be helped. However, once the game came out, it actually turned out to be pretty well-accepted. And through word-of-mouth, the general impression of the game got better and better. So there is just that much more reason to advertise the game.

Anyways, so about the game itself...

I do know that the RPG aspect is what is most unique to the game, but I personally found the anime-designs one of the biggest differences to enjoy. The main game is generally... "realistic" in character designs. The playable character and most other characters look mature.
On the other hand, the characters as well as the monsters are all in a more anime-like design. The characters look cuter, especially the playable character, who still looks cute even in heavy armor like the Gravios armor below.
Yet at the same time, the monsters don't really look any less ferocious. In fact, because of the system, the monsters almost all charge at you without any wind-up motion, which actually makes them even scarier to face than the main game.

Also, you got some rather... unique collaborations, like Umaru's outfit.
And while you get armor and weapons in the main game, you also get to use collaboration Monsters on your team! Yeah, imagine the day you get to use Epona (Legend of Zelda) in Monster Hunter.

When I first looked at the story, I thought that maybe this was a parallel universe. After all, Riders? We have Hunters from the main game, but we are Riders in this game?
But when you actually play the game, you see that they did a pretty good job in integrating Riders into the world/settings. And the conflict between the two was also a focus.
I don't really know what is considered spoilers, so I'm just going to say it did a good job in the story department.
My only problem is that the big evil in the game is kinda fuzzy. Like in Monster Hunter 4, you see all these berserk creatures and it turns out Gore Magara was causing the situation. But in this game, I don't really think the big evil was as... solid? It is still fine, but I guess if you had to complain about something, that would be it for me.

It looks "kiddy", but rest assured, it is pretty difficult. It's not overly difficult, but even on your first dungeon, you could find yourself gaming over. Don't believe me? Buy the game and try to fight one of those Bullfango symbols.
However, it is not an unforgiving game. Even if you lose all of your Life Points, you simply go back to a spot on the map. I'm not exactly sure if you lose any items and stuff in this situation, but still, you don't have much to lose.

The battle system is fairly simple on the surface.
You have three elements, Technique, Speed, and Power. You have the basic attacks and skills for each element, as well as the skills that have no elements. When you face a monster head-on (you target them, they target you, and both use an attack with an element), if your attack's element is strong against the enemy's, you do slightly more damage than usual. You still receive damage from your opponent, but they do slightly less damage and any effects from the attack do not activate.
And there are plenty of other elements that would be too long to explain.
You have your monsters (both enemy and allied) that only use one element, monsters that use certain elements in certain situations, and monsters that frequently switch elements. There is a degree of randomness to it, but just like any other game goes, you are able to mitigate the risks with your playing skills.

I can't really say there was anything memorable. They don't really use the BGM from the main game in this one (so no special BGM for Zinogre, and such), and the BGM generally felt... subdued? This problem is more significant for battles than the field.

Just like other Monster Hunter games, you can build armor and weapons out of monster material, but the forging system is similar to Monster Hunter X and XX, where you can level up a certain equipment over and over again without it changing appearance or name. So you may find yourself defeating the same monster multiple times to get their material, for multiple level-ups.
However, up to a certain point, the only thing that gets powered up is the attack or defense power. Once you upgrade the weapon/armor to High Rank, they may get new skills or the element damage may increase.
However, in most cases, the player is quite weaker compared to the monsters. Which makes plenty of sense, but you won't be able to help but notice this when you proceed through the game, especially once the enemies start hitting both you and your monsters at the same time or moving more than once per turn.

Of course, being able to travel around the map with your monsters is one of the main attractions of the game. This is especially delightful for fans of the monsters, as their characteristics are pretty well shown in the game. For instance, Nerscylla kinda... hobbling? for its walking animation. Zamtrios hops. Some move slower than others, some take time to reach their fastest walking speeds, some can walk on magma without being burned. Plenty of variety.
Also, as I am playing this game after playing Monster Hunter X/XX, it feels kinda nostalgic seeing all of the subspecies again.
There is no stress in going around the world map either, as you can hitch a ride with those cats to any checkpoints you've passed through.

Finally, you have the system where you collect eggs from monster nests and hatch them, creating your army of monsters to fight with. There is some grinding to this, where some eggs are better than others, which hatch into monsters with more skill slots or better skills.
However, almost all skills can be transferred over to any other monster, and in end-game, you will be able to get items that open up skill slots, so this isn't worth that much worry. Rather, the grinding comes from getting monsters with skills to transfer the skills and collecting skill-slot items. Of course, none of this is needed for the main story.

One more thing, yes, there is online in this game. I haven't tried it myself, but it is 1 vs 1, like Pokemon.

Other random talk:
It's a game. There are just some stuff you can't really think too hard about.
For instance, Zamtrios hatches as Zamtrios, instead of his younger forms.
Yian Garuga hatches normally, but in the next scene, he suddenly has a wound to his eyes.
Nerscylla hatches normally, but in the next scene, he already has the skin over his body.
Setting-wise, this is weird, but there are just some things that you have to let go on. Being too realistic does not necessarily make a game fun, after all.

All in all:
I think it is a well done RPG. And it also did a good job of utilizing the fact is was a Monster Hunter game. (because you know. you sometimes see games that borrow a title without really needing to be that title just for publicity sakes)
If you just want to play a solid RPG, it is a good try.
If you like the Monster Hunter series, it is also a good try.
Oh, and I think I already said this, but the playable character is so cute.

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