Known for a list of franchise titles such as, “How to train you Dragon 2” and “Penguins of Madagascar”, Torus Games and Little Orbit bring us the popular fashion dolls franchise, “Monster High”. You play as the ‘New Ghoul in School’. Unfortunately this means, due to poor choice of pun, you can’t chose to be a boy. Even though there are male character models throughout. This was a huge shame as this means the boys creature types such as Gorgon and Unicorn aren’t available, since you’re a girl. You have a selection of hairs styles and a clothing array that Barbie would die for. You can also pick which creature you want to be, Vampire, Werewolf and few others from Horror legends such as, The Mummy. Sadly, you don’t get any creature specific abilities, so it’s superfluous outside of aesthetic value.
And so, begins an RPG game in the loosest expression of the genre. It’s almost entirely a series of fetch quests that never seem to have an end. After you finish your A to B mission, pick ‘X’ items up, go back, rinse and repeat. In an attempt to break things up there’s are a few mini-games. There are funny moments for all the wrong reasons. Times in the cheerleading mini game, where you memorise button prompts. When you succeed it looks like your character is farting out hearts. Pushing boxes has frame-skipping animations and you can’t drag them sideways. It’s almost as if God of War and Soul Reaver pulling blocks sideways mechanics never happened. You can swim in a swimming pool for no discernable reason. The only way out, even though the edges aren’t that high, is using the cookie cutter bone ladder. Your character doesn’t even drip dry, there’s no evidence you just took a dip.
The movement through the game is sluggish, with a clunky attempt at 3D platforming. Corridors in the hallway are pretty much static besides the floating coins that you collect. These are your currency in Monster High to buy arbitrary objects of customization for your character. There are collectables but they seem to be there just for something to do. The problem is the articles you buy don’t actual give you any special kind of attributes. There’s no progression of any kind. Even when on a mission and you’re a Super Hero you have no powers really outside of your mission specific scan ability. Which would have been really handy as a device to find secrets and secondary missions between main quests. The navigation is like a bad taxi driver often taking you the longest route to get to your objective. The map wont help you too much either as it only shows main quests, no names on rooms and none of the side quests that you can easily miss. NPC’s highlighted with exclamation marks are secondary objectives. However you can’t access them mid-quest and there’s no real reason to do them.
Within the school comic hero mission you have to save one of the Characters and to do so for some reason you must activate three gargoyles in order. Here it seems the developers overlooked the fact that some people are colourblind. Having you guess between gargoyles with similar hue green, red and yellow eyes. For those that aren’t aware these are the worst selection for colourblind people. There’s several story lines going on but they never really add anything to the game. Any choice you get is futile, as decisions are made around you if you try to steer away from the intended result. Your only purpose is to collect money to by new outfits for no other reason than to dress your virtual doll up. Oh and to trudge your way through a sea of fetch quests, uninspired mini-games to a point of being the exactly same as the one you just completed. All so you can become the ‘scream queen’.
If the game doesn’t grind you down the constant incredibly forced puns will. I know it’s keeping to the source material but they really are pun-ishing. If that made you groan then imagine a game with that throughout its narrative. The voiceovers are minimal, occasionally stopping mid-sentence. There’s no attempt at syncing the animations that are just loops of the same animation. The sound track consist of two tunes, the title sequence track and one that just loops over and over to a point I had to turn it off.
This video game is linear, vacuous and superfluous. Though, looking at the franchise, maybe that was the intention. Which is a shame, if they had given you specific abilities, leveling up, story branching and maybe a boss battle or two. Maybe then it could have been fun High School RPG adventure. As it stands, it fails at pretty much every genre it tries to emulate. It’s a shame the designers seemed to have not enough imagination to make the game something really special. The visuals look like they’re from a PS2. If this was the early days of PS3, I might have overlooked this. Yet, when it’s the end of a generation we have titles like Persona and Tomb Raider, it’s simply unacceptable. The only saving grace this game has is it’s fairly glitch free and the limited but responsive controls allow you to play it. The basic requirement for any game really but it’s the only real positive I could find. There’s certainly no real reason to replay the game once complete. It might keep someone entertained for a few hours before the monotony sets in, if that’s what you’re looking for.
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