I think I can
Monster Train is an odd concept that meets with some odd genres, to create a really good game. Let’s handle the concept first. You’re in charge of trying to reignite hell, you see, it’s frozen over. This isn’t an accidental thing either, no rising sea levels or climate change are at work here, oh no, this was done on purpose. Heaven has attacked hell and caused the pyres to go out, and your job is to get the last remaining fragment of the pyre back to the centre of hell to reignite it.
As you rush back to save hell on your train, you get boarded by different enemies. Each of these comes from a different clan, and each requires a slightly different approach to defeat. Your train has four levels, the pyre is on the top floor, and enemies generally enter via the bottom level. If you can’t defeat them as they enter, then they’ll move up one floor.
It’s a kind of magic
Your tools to defeat this angelic enemies include spells and monsters, with the former being multiple-use and the latter being sentry style units that can die and will be unusable for the remainder of that fight. There are loads of varieties of both, and while you might end up with favourites in each category, they generally all feel really well balanced.
They’re all split into different clans too, ranging from your typical horned demons that specialise in being hench, to the strange candle-like monsters that feast on death and live short lives. You choose one as your main clan, and one as your secondary clan, and you can then choose cards from both as you go through your run. It adds another layer of replayability to your runs, and it keeps the game full of value for a very long time.
The battles are fun, and it feels like somewhere between the turn-based fights of Slay the Spire mixed with a strange tower defence game. Obviously, with it being a card game too, I’m very much here for it, but it’s all done really well, and battles tend to not last very long, which makes it intensely moreish.
Don’t be horny on main
Of course, the battles aren’t all there is here. Each battle unlocks the next region, which you have to choose a path through. Each of these paths has things to visit, whether that be a strange crevice that allows you to duplicate a card, or a shop that allows you to upgrade your units or spells, or even just a big old pile of gold. It makes your decisions outside of battle just as important as those within the battles, and that’s always great.
If you manage to finish a run successfully, then you can unlock harder difficulties. As far as I can tell, there are 26 difficulty settings for Monster Train, and they’re all pretty brutal. Plus, there are even a few multiplayer modes, including one where you race against seven other players using the exact same cards as you, which is a really cool idea for a game like this. Though, I’d love to see it introduce a full PvP mode at some point where you can pit your monster train against someone else’s.
Simply put, Monster Train is really good. It’s fun, there are a nigh-on-infinite number of things you can change and mess around with for each run, and it’s difficult, but not soul-crushingly so. It’s got a nice look to it, some very good music, and the card-customisation and cloning is an excellent idea. I’m really looking forward to seeing more people with their hands on it, and I think Monster Train deserves to be huge.
[Reviewed on PC]
Jason is the Editor of The Indie Game Website. He’s a lover of roguelikes, soulslikes, and other kinds of likes. He basically spends a lot of time getting beaten up in games and seems to enjoy it.