During my time at university, I would often find myself in a bit of a rut. My emotions would run rampant and my creativity would deflate and writhe on the ground haplessly. To alleviate some of the pain, I’d often turn to my Nintendo Switch. One of the many games I had on there was Stardew Valley. While I have my grievances with that game, it certainly got me through a difficult time. As a result, it holds a special place in my heart. Alas, the same cannot be said of its shameful copycat Monster Harvest. Its overzealous ambition to be more than it ought to makes it a lacklustre experience barely worth its place in an already oversaturated genre.
“Monster Harvest is, by all accounts, a mostly average farming simulator.”
My initial experience with Monster Harvest was discombobulating, to say the least. While I don’t always expect hand-holding, Monster Harvest’s insistence that I figure it out myself was frustrating. After a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it introduction that sets up the convoluted and contrived reason for you going to the farm, you’re set to figure things out for yourself. While there are various tutorials, the majority of them are dictated to you via reams of banal text. If I’m being honest, I had neither the time nor the patience to read them.
However, once I inevitably settled into the game’s rhythm, I found myself enjoying it somewhat. The visuals were, for the most part, rather pleasing. The vibrant colour scheme and impressively detailed sprite work settled me into a mostly immersive, albeit cluttered, world. Its varied regions and charismatic town felt warm and homely. For a moment, I began to trick myself into enjoying Monster Harvest.
You see, Monster Harvest is, by all accounts, a mostly average farming simulator. Thanks to the seminal works that have come before it, Monster Harvest has benefitted from years of trial and tribulation. As a result, it has created a mostly fine farming component to its multi-faceted gameplay. While on PC I found the controls to be a little fiddly, for the most part, planting and manoeuvring around your practically apocalyptic farmland is perfectly adequate.
“The Pokémon-esque monster taming and fighting mechanics feel undercooked and poorly implemented.”
However, it was at this point that I realised that Monster Harvest, despite its best attempts at creating something unique, has half-assed a moderately decent concept. Just as the farming is fine yet frankly unspectacular, so too is the rest of the game’s mechanics. I find it hard to recall even a single character that floats around the town repeating the same dialogue. Their traits felt one-dimensional, and outside of a few decently drawn character portraits, there was nothing to their characters that I found particularly enjoyable.
The Pokémon-esque monster taming – or farming in this case – and fighting mechanics feel undercooked and poorly implemented. While breeding as monsters as you very well please from your farm seems like a good idea, in practice it leads to a lack of identity or personality for any of the Planimals available. Additionally, the combat system is so dull and dreary that any time I was forced into a fight I groaned. There is just so little to it not unlike the rest of the game. It makes me wonder why they even bothered implementing it in the first place
The fact that having your Planimals die is a more preferable outcome in a battle feels aptly indicative of Monster Harvest’s lack of care. I didn’t care about a single one of my many Planimals, and nor can I imagine anyone else caring. It is frankly a gross oversight, as caring and befriending the various Pokémon is one of the most crucial aspects to the success of those games.
“This is a half-assed experience with so little to offer it is best forgotten.”
While its farming elements are subpar at best, elsewhere Monster Harvest truly fails to live up to the expectations it sets. It is a mostly unspectacular title and one barely worth anyone’s time. For those who truly love this type of video game, then perhaps Monster Harvest may offer you a slightly more enjoyable experience. But for anyone who is even remotely exhausted by the genre, don’t go into this expecting something revolutionary. This is a half-assed experience with so little to offer it is best left greyed out in our bountiful Steam libraries where it can be forgotten.