Monster Prom Review
High School Hijinx
Published on July 5, 2018
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux (Played on Windows)
Developer: Beautiful Glitch
Publisher: Those Awesome Guys
A collection of pop culture references mashed into a dating sim about High School, Monster Prom is the first game developed by Beautiful Glitch. With only three weeks until prom, you need to woo one of your classmates into being your date. The game plays similar to other dating sim games where players make a series of decisions, which leads to one of over twenty different endings. Your success will be determined by your ability to appeal to your beau’s distinct sensibilities. While the game is primarily multiplayer focused, it can be played alone if you would prefer. Will you be able to court your love interest in time, or will you be left alone on the night of prom?
Monster Prom features an endearing cast of characters that carry the game. It features a manipulative crime lord gorgon, culturally unaware royal mermaid, and a hipster vampire among others. While entirely ridiculous, the cast is where a lot of the charm comes from. Dialogue between two or more of the cast allows for interactions between each of the different characters as opposed to the one-on-one style that other dating sims use. Events in the present and past are referenced, which makes everyone feel alive. It’s a small detail that makes each person feel like they have a life outside of the narrower view you get of them while playing the game and adds additional charm.
The other big win for Monster Prom is its multiplayer aspect. The game is structured like a board game with players taking their respective turns one after another. What makes this such an exciting difference from other dating sims is how the story is focused on the group of friends, rather than an individual. Where other games will often follow a lone protagonist on their conquest of several eligible partners, Monster Prom is more interested in telling the stories of competition between two people pursuing the same love interest. A good group of friends can make a world of difference for the stories that come out of Monster Prom as you deal with the highs of success, and bitter lows of rejection.
The multiplayer focus also allows Monster Prom to engage players beyond the confines of the game. A random question is selected, and participants are asked to debate their answers to determine the order for that turn. This can lead to some hilarious debates and generally helps to keep the mood less intense, even if someone in your group is overly competitive. Again, how much you get out of this particular feature will depend on your group of friends, so your experience may differ.
Unfortunately, the structure of Monster Prom can lead to dialogue feeling disjointed. Players will encounter a variety of different situations where the various love interests will ask for input. Each of the different events is chosen at random provided it isn’t linked to a specific secret ending. Because of this, the consequences and relationships the player has accumulated throughout their journey are never referenced. Events feel entirely random resulting in an inconsistent narrative. For example, there is a story arc where you annoy a character until he decides to beat the tar out of you. Despite this, he could still be seen confessing his love for you when speaking to other players, which was jarring. While it adds to the replay value of Monster Prom, the random events make the overarching stories feel incoherent.
Along with the disjointed dialogue, the randomized events can lead to Monster Prom feeling repetitive. Due to how many of the events are chosen at random, there is a good chance that after four or five attempts through the game players are going to start to see the same dialogue. I had the unfortunate problem of recognizing a repeated event on my second time playing through the game. Viewing the same events makes Monster Prom feel like it drags on, which diminishes the replay value that having multiple endings would typically add. It’s a shame because there are over twenty unique endings, but to earn them players are going to have to slog through a lot of the same events, decisions, and dialogue they’ve already seen.
With the repetitive dialogue, the humor also wears out its welcome. While initially funny, the zany antics of the characters become monotonous after reading the same line of conversation for the third or fourth time. What’s worse is that many of the jokes go for shock humour, so once players become acclimatized, none of the jokes hit with the same impact. With more subdued, or quiet moments sprinkled throughout there would be more opportunity to accentuate the jokes, but as it stands Monster Prom does too much of a good thing and runs it into the ground.
The final point I’d like to raise is the soundtrack. The first several times I played through the game I thought the game only had one track that looped. Upon paying more attention to the background music, I realized that there were several different tracks that all sounded very similar. The different tracks all feature a similar twangy guitar, which makes the music blend together into an indistinct blob. While a game’s soundtrack can be used to evoke a particular emotion or set the mood, it feels particularly underutilized in Monster Prom. More variety, and music that better matched the tone of different story moments would have significantly aided the delivery of Monster Prom’s different stories.
While initially charming, I found Monster Prom didn’t have the right elements to have any staying power for me. I managed to see a handful of the endings and enjoyed what I played of the game with my friends, but I don’t know if I’d recommend it to others. The charming characters, the multiplayer design of the game, and how it tries to engage players outside of the game are all great additions to the dating sim genre. However, the disjointed dialogue, repetitive nature of subsequent attempts, humour, and music all drag Monster Prom down a little too much for me.