The publisher FuRyu surely caught my eye when he announced the school RPG Monark (unrelated to the guy there) because of its premise that was very similar to Shin Megami, which is not uncommon among RPG developers are former Atlus -Members with MegaTen experience.
The game will be coming to PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC in early 2022, but the Japanese release is now October 14th and there is a demo on the Japanese eShop and PSN, so I’ll share my impressions of the game.
Never trust a tall guy in white, I tell you that
Since the demo is in Japanese and I obviously don’t speak or understand that language, it’s a little difficult to understand the dialogues or what is actually going on. But well, somehow our school was moved to another world and strange incidents happened.
As part of the True Student Council, whatever that means, we should investigate this bullshit.
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From what the producers have revealed, Monark’s own main narrative mechanism is similar to that of Shin Megami Tensei: When the choice of the main partner determines the route of our game.
The demo itself shows only a small part of Hinata’s path. But the last game will give us four different routes, each with its ends, and as an incentive to repeat it will be possible to skip common parts of the routes and focus on the unique moments of each of these routes.
The beginning of the demo, the narrative I can tell, reminded me a little of Fate / Extra, the PSP RPG. You start out with being introduced to combat mechanics, only in an impossible situation to win, and your character dies. And then we are introduced to our true character.
What about the guy in white I mentioned? Look, he seems to have some strange power controlling some of the other students and they get red eyes (red eyes, Monark … the best jokes are yourself, I tell you) and clearly dislike the protagonist. And come on! A guy all in white at a school where the uniform is black.
Fight a la Neptunia + risk and reward in the madness
At the beginning of the game, the headmaster asks you a series of fifteen questions that define the player’s initial statistics through the EGO system.
I don’t understand exactly how it works or how these stats are changed (there is a character that you interact with from time to time and change their EGO points in a certain statistic, but since I don’t understand Japanese, I passed at.)
The game’s main battle reminded me a bit of the Neptunia series, with different characters having attacks with different areas of action, either cone-shaped or circular (there may be others later). the reaction and the damage done.
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If you attack the enemy head-on, the enemy will almost certainly counterattack. And if you attack him from behind (THAT SHE SAID) your attack will do a little more damage. Before the attack it is possible to move the character freely (around a defined range of motion, just like Neptunia)
The game has a risk and reward system based on the common sense of the characters. As you and your group walk through an infected area of the game, the insane counter will gradually increase. It is important to keep an eye on this counter because certain actions in dialogues are only possible if the sanity bar is above a certain percentage.
This also applies to combat, as certain skills can only be used when mental health is above a certain point.
This is a double-edged sword, however, as not just staying in the infected area increases the percentage. Sometimes certain NPCs are also affected by the madness and come up to the character irregularly until they scream.
This screams HUGE (about 30%) your sanity. And when the mind / madness bar reaches 100%, the character freaks out in the potato and in combat the player loses control of him, who can attack allies and enemies with equal ferocity.
Sanity can be restored with items or by speaking to the teacher (who is a medic) who will fully restore the group’s sanity.
The game has random fights but these can be declined if the player declines the call (yes, the game has some otherworldly calls to the fight, don’t ask me, just answer). And if the player is in trouble (like me) they can leave the fight and stay alive.
Despite the style, it’s not powerful.
Graphically, Monark is not eye-catching. Just as Disaster Report 4 looked like a PS3 game on a PS4 (which I suspect since Disaster Report 4 was originally a PS3 game), Monark does not appear to be harnessing the power of the PS4, if not the PS5. The character models are very simple, as are the scenarios.
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Of course the game has its own style, but a lot seems to be inspired by Shin Megami Tensei (other than the demons) and maybe a little bit from Caligula Effect (another RPG made by FuRyu.
I’ll admit I didn’t pay that much attention to the demo soundtrack, but the theme song itself is pretty cool. And the Japanese dubbing in the game, even though I only know three names (Shigeru Chiba, Suzuko Mimori, and Shinichiro Miki), is what you’d expect from a Japanese RPG. Excellent dialogue and delivery to the point.
May the localized experience help in this promising title
Monark promises, but we won’t know if the game delivers as promised until it hits consoles and PCs early next year.
Localization is done by NIS America so there are mixed feelings in between (some of their locations left a lot to be desired as I hear on the internet) but considering I have no complaints about FuRyu’s locations. listen to games so maybe be good.
Either way, Monark will be coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC in February 2022.