Monark is a game taken from another time
The first news we had from Monark, before even having an official name, was the team involved and the description as “Institute RPG”. Much of its developers had credits in the first deliveries of Shin Megami Tensei, and very particularly in one of the games that changed the course of the JRPG franchise: Shin Megami Tensei IF… after two main deliveries set in Devastated Scenarios If IF returned one of the initial ideas of the novels on which the saga was based when setting up its plot within an institute. The idea of if fell enough to promote the development of Spin-off person, who started a whole series that would keep this same location as identity hall. Monark was born, therefore, with clear expectations around what we could expect from him and especially with a newer model with whom to compare him. The latter is what weighs you the most.
- Developer: Furyu
- Editor: NIS AMERICA
- Platforms: PS5, PS4, Switch, PC
- Proven version: PS5
- Availability: 02/22/2022
Before continuing, it is convenient to clarify that this text will not be an analysis; I consider that I have not advanced enough to give a rating to the whole. I have a lot of history left to explore and many fighting to solve… but I simply do not feel like continuing, as perhaps it is better understood when you comment my impressions with it.
Monark is ambient at the SHIN Mikado Academy, which has been isolated from the outside by a kind of dome. In some of the buildings, students have been trapped in a fog that makes the judgment losing who happens too long inside it. It is the case of our protagonist, who awakens without memories after a while within this substance. He soon discovers that this fog is formed around the PactBearers, people with a great ego associated with one of the capital sins. After signing our own covenant we can transfer us to the Otherworld where we will destroy your convictions to eliminate the fog and save the rest of students.
As in SMT If… the iconography of the seven capital sins floods all the game. In the original each of the dungeons was dedicated to a sin and introduced some curious mechanics from time to time; In the mazmorra of greed there were numerous treasures, but the statistics of the final boss increased with each open chest. In the case of Monark has two appearances and are less interesting: on the one hand there are the PactBearers themselves and on the other a kind of personality tests that talk to us the different categories, although in a rather unpredictable way and sometimes with little touch towards certain Situations
As other securities set at an institute, during the game, rather hard issues such as bullying, depression or suicide, but writing does not make great delicacy. It may be a thing about the English translation, but it has seemed to me that Monark, besides not having anything interesting to contribute to the conversation, in many cases it ends trivializing the situations he describes in a way that has been very uncomfortable. My experience with the history of the first chapters has been quite negative, and it does not help the characters embrace the cliché until the caricature. Not even pulling well-known records have managed to mind none of the characters. I have already lived and situations that have put their respective convictions to the test, but somehow none of the subframes has awakened me the slightest interest.
The characters themselves give me to talk about an aspect that I usually try to leave aside in the analyzes: the graphic. I will go over the more than obvious technical limitations of the game, such as the tiny size of the instances or the impossibility of moving the camera in the exterior desert, which speak of a development with a tight budget. It seems to me more remarkable the little mime in the main characters, especially serious when one compares 2D designs (the only charismatic of their characters) with the poor 3D models. In certain cases incomprehensibly they show people totally different from those they should represent.
The technical aspect is not the only one in which Monark has been outdated and out of departure. Here you could enter many aspects: the repetitive loop playable, the endless empty hallways that we travel again and again, the slow animations of the scenes… but I think that where it shows is in the way of offering us a challenge and fill our hours. I will be short: Monark is a crushing festival. The combats that offer us by default (about 3 per episode) are very insufficient to reach the level that the story requires to move forward. After a very simple start, it soon becomes routine to face five or ten times to the same rivals to get the necessary experience to overcome a single confrontation of history.
The progress system works like this: At the end of a successful combat we gain spirit, multiplied to a certain extent if we perform a good combat. This coin serves to buy objects or upload the level to our characters, having to distribute it between our protagonist, the current companion of him and some entities that we can personalize a little more. The coin that gives us is scarce and does not come to keep all the team at a decent level. In addition, the jumps are brutal, up to five levels of one fight to another, and each time a character is attached to the team starts at level 1. There is no possibility of playing better, because we never offer us enough tools to compensate with ability. The only solution is, as in the RPG for several decades, to crack without meaning.
It bothers me especially because you see some good ideas on your tactical RPG system for turns (although it uses free movement instead of boxes, something that has never convinced me). For example, we can “resonate” with friends or enemies to share their buffs but also their _Debuffs or altered states, thus being able to take advantage of the subjects that the subjects have given a final boss. These ideas are drowned by the supremacy of pure statistics and the need to level up again and again so that they do not make us instakill the protagonist at the first combat turn. For several hours I decided to dedicate that time to crack to see how their systems were deployed, but I have not reached a point where I feel that I am winning the fighting for my strategy instead of pure brute force. This practice may be felt in 1994 of SMT If… but I hope something more than one game of 2022.
As I said at first, I do not see myself in the situation of analyzing Monark, but neither of finishing it. It is an RPG too plated to the old one, which seems to have ignored what has happened in recent years in the genre. If you had hooked my story, the characters or the combat system could have forgiven him that it was so stubborn in his ways, but after two tens of hours I do not see anything to get me to continue. Perhaps it is not the experience of the whole world and may be losing some great argument scoring or a new mechanics that of a new sense to what I have played so far, but at this point I can not find the motivation to continue.