Monster Prom Review – A race to a monstrous date!

Platform:
PC
Released:
April 27, 2018
Publisher:
Those Awesome Guys
Developer:
Beautiful Glitch

Review

I’m not going to lie, I was really excited for Monster Prom. The premise absolutely ticked all my boxes, and then, the game delivers on every last one.

Dating sim? Yes. Cool monster designs? Yes. Characters that date you regardless of gender? Yes. Funny, insightful, off the cuff writing that doesn’t punch down? Yes. My favourite Youtube voice actors? Yes.

Not to mention a chance to choose my pronouns regardless of the character’s appearance.

It’s six weeks (or three if you play a short game) until prom, and you’ve got to get a date with one of the six coolest monsters in the school. Sounds easy enough, but… this game is multiplayer. That’s right, up to four players can compete for love and affection in the multiplayer mode. This is a competitive dating sim. I love this idea, but first I would need to gather some friends, so I tried out  the single player mode first.

Mechanically, Monster Prom functions a little differently to your standard dating sim. You don’t just have to play your cards right on dates and meetups, but you also have to be constantly updating your stats to make you more attractive to your potential monster love. I, of course, being the stereotypical gay I am, went straight (metaphorically) for Damien, the attractive, foul mouthed, one liner demon. He was 100% my type, clearly.

As it turns out, it took about 7 complete games for me to actually get any date to prom. This game is kind of hard!

Monster Prom operates on a system of stats- Smarts, Boldness, Creativity, Charm, Fun and money. After the setup of the game, it’ll give you a quiz which will determine your stats in a… strange personality test.

You can also up these stats by going to different places of the school. Class gives you smarts, drama gives you creativity, outside gives you fun, etc. With only a set number of these chances, you really have to plan out your route to the best stats for who you’re trying to woo. Sure, you might end up with -4 smarts, but at least you’re REALLY fun.

This is where the hard part of dating comes in. You can’t just feed them lines of what you think they’d like to hear (though it helps) like other dating sims. You’ve got to also have:

  • The stats to perform that action (with either a failed state that loses you stats or a win state that gains you stats)
  • The stats they’ll like. If you’re not, say, fun enough, fun loving dates won’t want to take you to prom, even if you’ve done everything else right.

You can absolutely end up alone.  This isn’t a forgiving dating sim.

It actually took me a fair while to master this game and work out how to romance who I wanted to. I had to work out what people wanted, and it’s not always what you expect.

The writing is really breaking down some sterotypes here, which I won’t spoil because they’re fun to work out. I did notice in my first 7 playthroughs that I could rarely get the same scenario twice, so I couldn’t just repeat, learn what they want, and then date them. As it turns out though, this game is BIG.

Over a thousand scenarios exist. All of them have different combinations of characters and different traits it can detract from and buff, different events for items (which you can buy from a cool cat lady), different outcomes based on what items you have, secret endings- yeah. It’s dense.

Even when pursuing the same character more than once, I’d very rarely end up in the same situations.

“It’s really well thought out, well programmed and fantastically executed.”

I’ve barely scratched a fraction of this game, and I’ve romanced almost everyone!

The art style is incredible and the characters are constantly changing clothes as well, so all of this, plus constantly evolving art. It’s really well thought out, well programmed and fantastically executed

I did get some frustrating bugs with buttons not being able to be pressed, or a blank screen after an encounter that didn’t move on. I’d have to reset my game every time this happened and would lose all progress as you can’t save and come back.

It does mean I couldn’t use my usual dating sim technique of saving before every choice though, so, I see why it’s like that. It’s good work on the developer’s part, but it means it takes on more of a party game vibe than a single person game.

For a dating sim, this is really refreshing and interesting.  It’s huge, well written and actually requires a bit of thought and deliberating. Coming from someone who makes dating simulators- it’s hard. To have this much depth and knowledge of field requires so much work, and it really shows in Monster Prom.

All of that content is seemingly available in the single player mode except for random events, which exclusively show up in 2-4 player modes.

Firstly, I played it with one friend in two player mode. We discovered some new things that happen with more than one person. Random events that change turn order based on real world interaction, where it asks you to name something, gives you a scenario, and then you vote on which one matches the scenario best.

The random events definitely didn’t always function well with 2 players because we would obviously vote for ourselves. Our solution was to randomise most of the encounters and just avoid others. With 4 players the encounters seemed to work much better.

“for a game marketed as a competitive dating simulator, it was really hard to get competitive at all.”

I played it a few times with two players, a few time as three, and two games with four players. But, for a game marketed as a competitive dating simulator, it was really hard to get competitive at all.

It may just be my friends and I, but we just spent the times that weren’t our turns deliberating and helping each other get dates. It was much more of a co-op experience than anything competitive. We tried a few rounds all focusing on one character once everyone had got the hang of it.

This was slightly more strategic, you’d want to be the one to get the first pick of lunch tables or areas to lock the others out from that one, but mostly it just came down to stats and the luck of random encounters.

Random encounters occur once in a short game, and they basically allow the monster your opponent is trying to woo to ask you questions about them, or if we should invite them out for adventures.

Even when playing competitively we were all pretty helpful to each other. I think the problem might have been that we all loved dating sims, and we all wanted each other to get their prom date. There are enough characters that even with 4 players, no one HAS to double up.

Despite not being competitive, we all had a lot of fun playing. It’s a very different multiplayer experience, but just as good. There was a lot of laughing and arguing, and this game would be an incredible party game. It’s something different, and it’s pretty easy to have other conversations and interactions going on alongside.

Make sure it’s a party with excellent people though, because Monster Prom also has completely unapologetic, lefty writing. It’s gender inclusive, pokes fun at toxic masculinity and hasn’t got a single ounce of queer/homophobia. The one downside is that it did like to use the term “spirit animal”, which is a term that is being misappropriated from Native American culture.

The writing and the comedy is virtually all punching up or absurdist humor. There’s nothing poking fun of people for their appearances, or choices, and everyone’s- well most of the characters are terrible, terrible people, but strangely all incredible supportive.

If supportive monsters loving each other and you, as well as committing arson is your deal, Monster Prom is definitely one for you.

The Bottom Line

This is a really engaging dating sim. It’s hard, but it’s highly and easily replayable. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it only adds to the engagement. Both alone and with friends, this is a highly entertaining, engaging, artful and witty game that I can recommend wholeheartedly.

I can tell you, I’ll be getting my Prom Tux out for this one.