Microsoft’s Gamepass service delivers a huge collection of playable games for a monthly subscription cost. Originating on Xbox, Gamepass is now available to play from a PC as well as an Xbox console, albeit with a few games excluded due to compatibility. Microsoft is constantly updating Gamepass with new titles entering the service and longstanding ones eventually leaving. Most weeks, Microsoft has at least one or two new games to go up on the platform, and even boasts a few day-one releases. This week we’re looking at Monster Sanctuary, a cute platformer released in 2019 and just added to the Gamepass service a few days ago.
Monster Sanctuary is a delightful and relaxing turn-based experience that can still pose a challenge. Its central theme of collecting monsters and building a 6-member team has drawn many comparisons to the globally popular Pokémon series and many have even accused it of being a simple rip off. But Monster Sanctuary has much more to offer than a watered-down Pokémon experience!
You begin the game by choosing your starting monster between four options, the Wolf, the Eagle, the Toad, and the Lion. Each has a primary and secondary element from the four natural elements often found in games and TV shows: water, wind, fire, and earth. The Spectral Wolf, for example, has a water and wind combination of elements, which determine its skills and moves in battle.
The game delivers an attractive platformer with the perfect level of pixelisation and a user interface reminiscent of Terraria or other classic retro platformers. Battles are usually 3 v 3 and extra XP is awarded for using the games mechanics to your advantage, like employing the combo system to boost your biggest hitters by using your support moves first. The depth of gameplay allows for serious strategists to enjoy a game where your approach makes all the difference!
The monsters you collect all come with unique skills that can be used to help navigate the world, like flames that active torches or a slash that cuts through vines. Each battle allows you to select three monsters from your team of six so you will have the opportunity to choose the elements most to your advantage. With so much to offer from the game mechanics, and a huge range of monsters to find, fight, collect and evolve, this game is much more than a poor imitation of Pokémon, it is a relaxing and engaging experience for the gamer who wants to focus more on strategy than reaction speed!