Platform: Steam, Windows
Reviewed on: Windows
Players: Single player
Written by Dragoon 4th June 2015
Procedurally generated horror games have become all the rage lately with a slew of developers offering their take on the genre and Monstrum by Team Junkfish is one of the latest, having just come out of early access. The game is set aboard an abandoned ship and tasks you to escape while avoiding one of the three random monsters that are out to kill you in the randomly generated decks of the ship. Does Monstrum set out for new waters or does it just end up sinking in the vast sea of its genre?
The main thing that sets Monstrum apart from its competition is its setting. While most horror games go for the tried and true classics like asylums or forests Monstrum opts for an abandoned ship which is a fantastic setting that oozes atmosphere. The way the ship creaks and groans and the grungy metallic interior really puts you on edge and instantly creates a sense of dread before you even meet one of the suitably horrific terrors out for your blood.
Each monster has its own signature but you never know which are facing until you see its tell-
To win you must escape through one of the three available methods which are a helicopter, a life raft or a submarine. Each requires its own set of items to work which you can find throughout the ship so which escape route you go for usually revolves around which of these items you stumble upon first. The ship itself has a randomly generated layout that changes each time you play. Unfortunately this lets the game down more than it helps since winning is more reliant on luck than skill. In my opinion the game would have been better off having a set layout you could learn and adapt to through multiple playthroughs.
One of the most irritating aspects of the game are its environmental hazards, the worst are the steam pipes that can instantly kill you and have to be turned off using a nearby valve. There are also security cameras that set off an extremely loud alarm when they spot you and are quickly followed by your hunter and usually your death, these hazards seem unnecessary and add little to the game other than frustration.
Visually the game punches way above its indie genre with great textures and lighting effects, the ship looks very industrial and gritty and this helps to create a thick atmosphere. The sound direction is also great as previously mentioned with a great range of effects, the sounds of the monsters scurrying about after you really make you feel like you are being hunted. The monsters themselves look good with each having a signature style though The Brute looks a little too Saturday morning cartoony for me.
While Monstrum may not be perfect it’s in no way a bad horror game, it’s atmosphere is fantastic and it is served well by its great setting but it’s let down by its overreliance on random generation. The monsters are visually and audibly frightening but there isn’t enough variety in how you deal with them. Overall it definitely stands out in the sea of mediocre horror games but it doesn’t quite manage to find a brave new world for the genre.
Good sound direction.
Too much reliance on randomly generated elements,
Irritating environmental hazards.
Monstrum sets sail to a 7/10.