Monster Harvest

  If one game is good, then two must be better.  That unfortunately isn’t always the case.  Sometimes when you try to do a mash up of multiple game types, one or more of the genres could suffer.  Monster Harvest from developer Maple Powered Games and publisher Merge Games attempts to combine farming and monster battling into one seamless game. 

  Your Uncle contacts you to let you know that he has made an amazing discovery and would like you to take over his farm. Some how he realized that if you put slime on crops, they morph into cute cryptids that he has dubbed planimals.  These creatures make great pets and are great at battling each other.  Since his discovery, his once abandoned town has become a bustling little community.  He needs you to take over his farm so he can focus on his research.

  You start out the game with a small farm, tools and some seeds.  Like most farming games you have to hoe the land, plant your seeds, and water them every day to make them bloom.  There are 3 seasons that last 28 days each and have specific fruits and vegetables that can be grown.  You can manipulate the plants by applying different slimes to them.  Red will mutate them into planimals, green will cause them to instantly bloom, and blue will turn them into mounts or livestock.  Once you have a few seed types you can also cross breed them.  Unfortunately, you can only grow the hybrid seeds for fruit, they can’t be turned into planimals.

  The game is separated into two time frames, day and evening.  You can do as much exploring as you wish, as you control when the game switches from day to evening, and then from evening to the next day.  Your character has a limited amount of stamina which is used for chopping wood, mining, fishing, and breaking rocks.  You can eat food to refill your gauge, but until you can cook, there is not much return on investment.  When you transition from day to evening, you will regain some stamina.  This is helpful because the dungeon is only available at night.

  The dungeon consists of 5 random floors.  The rooms will have 1 planimal at most, but are often filled with crystals and ores that you mine.  The planimal battles in the dungeon are 1 vs 1.  It is turned based combat in the simplest form.  Even if you have 6 planimals in your party, only the 1st one will do battle.  It will either win or die, so pick carefully.  If your planimal dies, you can use it to level up the soil on your farm so that future planimals will start at higher levels.  Once a week you can battle 3 residents in the Rec Hall.  This can help rank you up and level up your planimals.

  When you end your day, all the items that you have placed for sale will be tallied up, the game will save, and you will start it all over.  Unfortunately, every time you end the day your screen goes black for long enough to make you think the game has crashed.  This is not the only issue that the game has.  Once you complete certain tasks you will earn upgrades for your tools.  These upgrades just allow you to use them without using as much stamina.  But you can also earn a farm upgrade and unlock a bunker that will allow you to plant and grow any seed regardless of season.  Yet no matter what I tried, only the in season seeds would sprout.

  The planimals themselves are also an issue in the game.  You spend days in game trying to level up your creatures only to have it killed by a monster that gets a critical hit.  That is unless you create one of the Dark Season planimals.  There is one planimal that will one hit kill almost any enemy.  It can use an attack that will hit multiple times, drain the health of your enemy and heal itself.  The interesting thing is that if the enemy only has 3 hit points and you hit them with a 20 point attack, you will heal for the full 20 points.  You can actually fight through an entire dungeon of enemies that are many levels higher than you and never die.

  The inventory system also hinders the game.  If you want to sell an item, you are required to sell all that you own.  If you want to only sell a few of an item, you must use the ones that you want to keep.  You can also place an item into a chest so that you can collect items to sell in your inventory, but it becomes tedious having to switch items back and forth every time you go out to explore or gather items.

  Monster Harvest is available now on Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Playstation, and Steam.  Depending on the system, it carries a price tag between $16 and $20.  The game is a great concept but fails in execution.  Neither the farming / town simulator or the monster battling work well separately and when combined they highlight the faults of the game.  There is a good game here, but it is mired in poor execution and flawed systems.