Monster Hunter fans rejoice the west now has Stories! Just over a year ago I waited with baited breath wondering if Japan was only going to receive this unusual departure from the franchise. Here in my Monster Hunter Stories review enjoy my take on this game as the series continues to get stronger.
Monster Hunter is a very popular game series that debuted on the PS2 in 2004 and went on to sell millions of copies worldwide on different gaming platforms. So what’s “Monster Hunter Stories” all about? Ryozo Tsujimoto (executive producer) describes the game as “staying true to the world of Monster Hunter, with a story that can only be told through an RPG, packed with fun and enjoyment”.
If you’re familiar with previous Monster Hunter games then “stories” will feel quite different. Where players become “Riders”of Monsties instead of Hunters. Where the RPG part of the game tells the tale between the Riders and Monsties (that’s game slang for monsters).
Review Side Quest
Have you played Monster Hunter games before? What’s your favourite moments, tell me a campfire story of your hunting exploits
Get in the Disqus or Facebook Comments at the end of the review. And please share this so other gamers can get involved, and enjoy the review.
How does it play?
From the onset of the lengthy story video and the initial tutorial this game stays committed to the world of Monster Hunter. Elements of the game will feel similar and any players of the previous games will recognise the RPG (role playing game) questing system.
The village exists as a hub to allow your character, the rider as opposed to a hunter to meet with other people, craft, upgrade and sell resources gathered from adventures in the wild. The initial story of a ‘big-bad’ bringing doom and gloom to the village is one that is often a common threat in Monster Hunter games and ‘Stories’ doesn’t deviate from this theme.
The game feels like Monster Hunter Generations with your companion along for the journey giving you tips and advice. The big difference is that rather than slicing and dicing your way through the monsters out in the wild, your goal is steal unhatched eggs from Monsties hatch them and using your friendship kin stone become friends. These hatched Monsties will fight alongside you during adventures and allow you to ride them.
Rock, Paper, Monsters!
Combat focusses on a turn based RPG system that utilises a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ method to deliver attacks from you and your Monsties on wild Monsties In the first few hours of the game you’re given a range of different quests that act as learning tasks to build up your supplies of crafting materials.
The journey is enjoyable, the game feels like a ‘Monster Hunter – lite’ that removes the often unrewarding steep learning curve and difficulty levels that are characteristic of previous games. The friendship that is present between your character, the NPC riders, villagers and your friendly Monsties is charming and feels akin to the trainer relationship that exists in Pokémon games.
As a spin off from the main Monster Hunter series the game really worked for me.
Presentation and Graphics
Monster Hunter Stories uses similar world design as its predecessors. The village hub is full of NPC (non player characters) to interact with and rich with graphical details. The 3DS utilises its hallmark 3D functionality adding depth and details to the environment. Graphically the 3DS delivers a beautiful detailed graphical world to interact with and explore. Stories feels like a full blown Monster Hunter games instead of a spin off.
The game environment sound is borrowed from the Monster Hunter series with familiar and welcomed sounds and noises. The soundtrack is of a high standard creating atmosphere to the game, whether you hanging out in the village or you’re travelling the plains.
The control system utilises both the D-pad and the thumbtacks to move and rotate the screen. Button pressing uses the same control scheme that any Monster Hunter player will be at home with. Customisation on controls can be done via the simple to use menu system. All of the control systems and in game menus are borrowed from the Monster Hunter series and are a joy to use, newcomer will be able to follow the game tutorials provided by your lovable side kick ‘Navirou’.
The lower touch screen of the 3DS/ 2DS incorporate the user interface and is used to open maps, add notations and initiate combat using a battle wheel that feels remarkably similar to the Yo-kia Watch game series. Everything happens from within your village hub and saves are done by sleeping in your comfy bed.
I really enjoy the look and feel of the game and having played far too many hours in the world of Monster Hunter i immediately felt right at home with this game.
Monster Hunter Stories is predominantly a RPG game that follows the story line of the village and surrounding wilderness being threatened by the ‘blight’ that you need to stop. As your Rider you will spend the majority of your time out in the wild completing task that have been set by your villagers. Some of these tasks are based around the gathering of resources and some include fights with other Monsties.
So onto combat, which uses a turn based system with similar mechanics to the Pokemon game series. You must utilise the rock, paper, scissors system to beat the wild monster using your team of Monsties. What I really liked here as the kinship element which allows access to more powerful attacks and the ability to attack from on your friendly Monstie. The difficulty level is quite low which makes the game very easy to get into. On more than one occasion i did wonder if i was going to get beaten by a wild Monstie.
There is an element of the ‘gotta catch em all’ nature in the game. As a rider you have to enter into wild monster dens and steal their unhatched eggs. Initially I didn’t like the idea of this as previously you have to carry the egg across the landscape and any interaction with monsters will result in a dropped egg. Fortunately this isn’t present in Monster Hunter Stories. Once you have the eggs its back to the village and hatch the egg and find out who your new monster friend is. These Monsties get added to your stables and build up your battle team.
Each Monstie is from the world of Monster hunter and i did like the opportunity to befriend them instead of hack them to pieces and carve them up for resources with my hunting knife. It is all about the kinship between monster and rider instead. I like the way your monsters develop as you level up and become a better rider.
Another large part of the game is the crafting system where ingredients that you collect as resources are used to craft items that make hunting easier, improve your weapons and armour. Historically in previous monster hunter games this has required a lot of grinding to get X number of resources to make your character stronger and better equipped to fight stronger Monsties.
Pleasantly this grind was absent from ‘stories’ and i happily followed the story line going about my business completing the tasks that the villages required of me.
The story is enjoyable and i during my adventures i felt emotionally connected to my Monsties. Your side kick ‘Navirou’ the felyn (a big cat) as your constant companion and provides tips, advice and comedy when needed. The story will maintain the interest of gamers new to the world of Monster Hunter and likewise veterans of the series will enjoy the different take where Monsties become friends with humans.
Monster Hunter stories also has a network battle mode which allows battling against other players over the internet. During the review i wasn’t able to try out this mode due to my progression in the story.
Like previous Monster Hunter games you can connect to the DLC (downloadable content) system online and access additional content that is provided. Typically the content is in the form of further quests, rules that are applied to online battles and content that allows customisation of your rider and companions.
I particularly liked that ‘stories’ detected that I had played other Monster Hunter games and granted me additional rewards in the form of starting commodities and resources. This feature requires previous game data from ‘Monster Hunter: Generations’ on your system.
Like most recent Nintendo games the use of Amiibo figures is a common feature. During the review I didn’t have access to the range of Monster Hunter Amiibo’s that were previously released alongside the Japanese version. I understand they allow access to additional companion Monsties (which can also be acquired in the game) earlier by using the NFC reader capabilities. As a collector of Amiibo figures I really like this in the game and it’s a big selling point of the game.
Should I play this?
Stories is a welcomed spin off from the main game series. It successfully delivers a different outlook on the relationship of the hunter and the monsters. In your village hunters are riders who befriend Monsties, instead of hunting them in the wild.
Veterans of the series will note that difficulty level of ‘stories’ is much lower than previous games and knowing the world of Monster Hunter will really make a difference to your play style. As the story played out it was a very enjoyable experience for me, albeit a bit of diversion from previous Monster Hunter games.
‘Stories’ is a lite version of the main games, which easily allows newcomers to series an opportunity to become emotionally invested in the light hearted nature of the story.
Gamers who should…
Fans of the Monster Hunter series will enjoy this spin off, but be warned it’s very different to likes of Monster Hunter 4U or Monster Hunter Generations. I really enjoyed the diversion. If you haven’t tried the series before, it’s an easy starting point to try out the world of Monster Hunter
Gamers who probably shouldn’t…
Players who dislike RPGs may not be tempted to try this title. Likewise players who don’t have a lot of time to invest in a long story (the campaign has 50+ hours of gameplay). If you dislike ‘Gotta catch em all’ style mechanics
Pokémon series, Yo-Kai Watch, Monster Hunter 4U, Monster Hunter Generations.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Well delivered story Spin-off||Can become repetitive||None during review|
|Very accessible difficulty levels|
|50+ hours of content|
About This Monster Hunter Stories Review
Game Reviewed: Monster Hunter Stories digital download, provided by publisher
Review Format: Nintendo 3DS
PEGI Rating: 12