Monster Hunter Stories is a unique and interesting installment to the series. For many, this series is obscure to many gamers unless you have been loyal to it for the many different titles that have been released throughout the years. For those who are familiar with the series, you will quickly find that even though this is not remotely the same game, many of the original elements are still applied to this title. Being loyal to the franchise for years (I absolutely adore the Monster Hunter series.) I found it very interesting to see how different yet similar this title is compared to its mainstream predecessors.
Just giving a little bit of background, the original Monster Hunter series, the player is thrust into the role of being a Hunter. Essentially, the goal from that point is simple: Hunt various monsters, grind to get better gear and complete Subquests that aid in helping you achieve these goals. However, the case is slightly different in this spinoff of the main series. Monster Hunter Stories introduces the player to the role of being a “Rider” in which your job is to befriend various monsters (which are referred to as “Monsties”. I know its cringe-worthy, but consider the target audience for this game.), having them become your allies by stealing their eggs and hatching them.
I was captivated by the gameplay of this spinoff, however, because of it being unlike something I have been used to with these titles. Combat in the game has been revamped in the offering of an RPG turn-based system that is similar to something such as Rock-Paper-Scissors. The techniques the player are given are broken down into Power, Speed, & Technical and it is from there the player is left to read and react to their enemies attack patterns in order to win battles. Throughout my time experiencing this, I found it to be an effective system but I do feel as though it lacked difficulty at times. In terms of the battling system, the game is far too forgiving by giving the player three lives in battles. Building off of that, every time you lose a life the player or their monster ally come back to life with a full health bar. Essentially, if you have the right gear and have put the work in, you truly will never find that big of a threat within this game.
Although that is one of the few gripes that I have with this game, it makes up for it in other ways. One of those ways is the flushed out customization abilities that you are offered as a player. You are able to gather materials to make more armor and weapons and there are plenty of varieties within those categories. Players are also given gene altering system that allows for them to combine different genes from specific monsters to help awaken their stats and abilities.
The Story is charming, however a bit childish in ways. I can validly say that there are times that will capture the player in heartfelt ways, but still, the silliness of it all will peak through. I will say that there are characters that you will come to enjoy such as your traveling partner named Navirou who is your cat navigator who turns out to be likable. Overall, I would say that I have had an enjoyable experience being able to play this title and I found it to be a delightful change up for an already incredible series.
Other features of this title include an online PvP system where you can go online and battle other players which can provide players with the challenge that they may truly be looking for as well as challenging endgame content. With all that being said, I would recommend this title to both Monster Hunter and RPG fans alike because it has many elements that will cater to the fans. I saw this experience as Monster Hunter meets Pokemon (which are two of my favorite series.) and if you consider yourself a fan of either of these, then you will probably find joy in giving this title a try no matter what age you are.