Meg’s Monster Review – A Girl and Her Monster

    Title: Meg's Monster
    Developer: Odencat Inc.
    Release Date: March 2nd, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Odencat Inc.
    Genre: Adventure RPG

Emotions are a powerful thing, and often they can trick us into thinking that the world is coming to an end. It doesn’t matter how small the catalyst is; something that might be trivial to some can be devastating to another. But what if a single person’s emotions truly did have the power to lay waste to the world as we know it? What if their tears and cries brought about the end of days? In Meg’s Monster from developer Odencat, we are thrust into a world where this might be the case, and it’s up to us to make sure both humanity and monster kind can survive another day.

Despite the grim scenario I described above, Meg’s Monster is as charming and light-hearted as they come. Taking place mainly in the underground world of Underworld, players take control of Roy, a grumpy, buff, hot-tempered monster, which is very much unprepared to suddenly look after a child, when Meg, a young girl seemingly discarded by humans, grows fond of him.

Despite being reluctant to help Meg find her mother, Roy quickly realizes that unless he does, the very fate of the world might be at stake, as the moment the young girl starts to cry, he immediately feels as if the world is going to come to an end.

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Much of the story centers around the relationship between Roy and Meg, as you might imagine, and it’s endearing to watch the two grow closer. The two of them develop a sort of sibling bond, and seeing Roy soften up naturally over time is, on the whole, very sweet. It’s perhaps a tad predictable, but it knows how to grab your heartstrings when needed, and we grow to care about Meg just as Roy does.

The more expansive cast of characters is a bit hit or miss, with the definite highlight being Roy’s friend Golan, who has some great moments, and watching his friendship with Roy develop feels just as important to the story’s key themes. The Underworld Council and its members are also fun and have an enjoyably dysfunctional dynamic that lends plenty of quirky humor to the tale. Other residents of Underworld are perhaps a bit one note, and while they certainly don’t take away from the experience, they are mostly just serviceable and do what they need to do.

Meg's Monster Review Screenshot.

The story as a whole can be described as enjoyable and charming but a touch underdeveloped. It certainly has intense moments, but Underworld as a setting doesn’t feel super organic and lacks something to help it feel memorable. The game takes brief detours to tell side stories, so perhaps a few more of these might have helped to flesh things out and even give some of the minor cast a chance to shine.

The way things are, though, the broader story is at least enjoyable itself, and again, the core relationships help to keep the adventure engaging during the short playtime. Twists and turns caught me off-guard, and certain moments also struck a chord with me emotionally. And while a few story elements were introduced in the latter half of the narrative that I question the inclusion of, they didn’t go so far as to ruin the experience for me.

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I’d say that the presentation might be where Meg’s Monster shines the most. The sprite work is so endearing, and the character designs have a childish nature to them as if they had come from the imagination of Meg herself. While Underworld is slightly lacking in a narrative sense, the actual locales and maps themselves are beautifully drawn, colored, and shaded, making it highly unforgettable in that sense.

The animations, perhaps, are where the experience stumbles in this respect, but they’re serviceable rather than jarringly awful. Alongside this, the soundtrack is fantastic; Meg’s Monster strikes hard in this area, from the beautiful central theme to some of the intense music used in battles. The music’s high quality helps sell so many of the more emotionally punchy moments.

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So how about gameplay? Unfortunately, I think this is where Meg’s Monster feels a little underdeveloped again. Taking its cues from other indie projects, Meg’s Monster uses an RPG-style fight system but focuses much less on stats, levels, or gear. Instead, it’s all about picking the right option at the right time and solving the ‘puzzle’ presented by the encounter. Knowing when to block and use healing items is essential, and certain gimmicks bring a little intrigue to the combat, but these ideas are only given a few chances to shine before they’re discarded. So overall, I could say that Meg’s Monster is a bit unexciting regarding its combat.

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Furthermore, the leveling feels a bit arbitrary, too, as there is no option to grind; you only ever fight when the story pushes you into one, so it more or less just feels like set dressing. It isn’t challenging since it blatantly telegraphs many of its combat mechanics. So once again, the downfall of Meg’s Monster comes down to its brevity.

It has a lot of good ideas and presents them very well, but it’s just a bit lacking in meat and would have benefited if it was maybe a few extra hours longer. However, I did enjoy my time with Meg’s Monster, it was a treat to play through, and there’s a clear amount of passion here that can’t be overlooked. It’s a shame some stars don’t align at the right time. If there was a little more here regarding playtime, it could also justify the asking price a bit more.

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Meg’s Monster is a charming, adorable, and heartfelt adventure that provides an excellent indie RPG experience. The relationship between the main duo is the driving force, with the art and music complementing the tone. However, it lacks evolution by revealing its entire hand in the first few hours, delivering a weak second half.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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