Indie games are awesome, and that’s why we’re here: This column is a celebration of all those projects made by teams or even one single person that, on their own, went and did whatever they wanted. We tell you on a monthly format our newest discoveries regarding any games outside the AAA landscape, shading light into the indie games we love, gush about them, and maybe even help you find a new favorite game!
Monster Sanctuary | $19.99 on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch; included with the Xbox Game Pass
Monster Sanctuary, from German studio moi rai games, is a truly unique monster collector. The game revolves around monster collecting as you go through a pixel-art platformer/Metroidvania-like world, full of challenges in both the monsters and the environment. The monsters themselves have great designs that make both references to important monster collector titles of the past while also incorporating modern and truly artistic decisions that lead to fantastic monsters. What is really great about this game is that any monster is viable throughout the story, allowing you to craft the perfect team without having to worry about if you chose a monster with the wrong stats. Even the starter stage of these monsters can be a strong decision over even their evolved forms, truly allowing you to use the team of monsters you like best.
Fair warning, Monster Sanctuary is hard. While there is an easy mode if you are worried about getting through the story on the standard difficulty, there were many times that I was challenged to win NPC and boss battles, especially the optional battles. In addition, the platformer world can be difficult to traverse, as good timing is needed to successfully clear some obstacles. That being said, however, this game is so much fun that the difficulty was not a major issue. I found that I was enjoying the game so much that I did not mind that some of it were challenging to overcome.
What sets this game apart from other monster collectors (such as big names Pokémon and Digimon) is the story and its incorporated mechanics. The most notable of these is the Light and Dark versions of the monsters obtained through Monster Shifting. This allows you to customize your monsters even further, including recoloring, changed stats, and added abilities. The treasure collecting in the game allows you to gear up your team with a range of equipment that really leads to a fully customizable team that best fits your playstyle and aesthetic.
If you are always itching for a new monster collecting game, like I am, I cannot recommend Monster Sanctuary enough. Smoothly blending two genres into a unique experience, this game distinguishes itself from other titles. Continual support since its release in 2020 has also benefited the playing experience, and moi rai is planning a free DLC for this game around mid-2023. If you are looking to add to your collection of digital friends with crazy powers, the monsters of Monster Sanctuary should be next on your list!