Capcom return to the Monster Hunter series with a new entry that ventures into new territory that’s different to the series while at the same time retains the charm, action and adventure that fans have come to know from this universe. This is Monster Hunter Stories!
Monster Hunter Stories breaks away from a lot of the mechanics that players have come to know but in this case, it isn’t a bad thing. First off, the game is set in a land called Pondry Hills. You play the part of a young male/female thrown into the role of becoming a Rider which is essentially someone who has the ability to train monsters and actually befriend them and use them in your day to day to outings. See the difference already? You still get to slay monsters but you can grab an egg from a monster’s nest and hatch it. The resulting monster then becomes part of your party and you can skill them up, RPG style. You’re then able to use your new monster friend, or monstie as the game calls them, in battles which is one area where the game makes a big departure from what fans will know. The battles are turn based not real time as in other MH games.
This lends the battles a new element of strategy as you need to learn which attacks work against certain monsters, not much different from Pokemon battles. Certain attacks are stronger against certain monster attacks. It’s handled very well in the tutorial and it won’t be long before you’re able to read your enemies attacks based on their stance.
A lot of the times, you’re battling more than one monster alongside your monstie and if your HP dips too low and you don’t have any potions with you, you can always swap out your monstie for a new one from your stable. So ti does pay to search out monster dens as they usually have nests with eggs. And unlike other MH games, you don’t need to make it safely back your base without dropping it and breaking. Once you have it, the egg just disappears allowing you to mount your monstie and ride back to town. Quite a few of the hunting mechanics have been simplified like not having to worry about breaking a net for bug hunting and likewise with your pick axes for mining rare stones. This is one part that I actually really liked and led me to call it this game, Monster Hunter Lite.
While some areas have been toned down and made easier, new elements have been introduced to allow the game to still have depth, just in new, different areas. It’s quite clever how Capcom have done this and it’s a risky move which may divide the MH fanbase if they’re used to the normal MH fare which tends to be more hardcore with a steep learning curve but I really began to like it the more I played and progressed.
Graphically, it looks fantastic and has a brighter colour scheme and palette vastly different from other games that carry a more darker, serious look. The environment probably isn’t as detailed as other games in the series but at the same time, it doesn’t need to be. The look and feel of the game blends in nicely with the theme and aesthetic of MHS which you could argue might be geared at a younger audience but still has appeal for the older crowd. One thing that doesn’t disappoint are the cinematics, it’s totally worth cranking up the 3D for these babies, they’re absolutely gorgeous! A lot of the soundtrack from other games and sound effects are all here but why wouldn’t they be? It’s Monster Hunter after all!
I wasn’t sure what to make of this game when it was first announced as I thought it came across as a bit of a kid’s version of Monster Hunter but in that aspect, I’ll happily say I was wrong. While things have changed, a lot of the core elements have been retained so you can feel familiar with it right away. There’s a demo in the eShop which allows you to carry things over into the full game and note that when the game reads your previous Monster Hunter game saves, you also receive a little bonus! Overall, Monster Hunter Stories is a great addition to the series and an excellent time killer. Suffice to say, it may not be for everyone but if you want a different challenge for Monster Hunter and the ability to ride monsters into battle then look no further, Monster Hunter Stories has you covered.
*Thanks to Nintendo for the review copy*
Final score: 9/10