I’m no stranger to raising simulators, whether that’s Princess Maker or Monster Rancher. So of course, I was immediately drawn to the ambition of The Monster Breeder once I was introduced to it.
What isn’t there to love? Goofy genetic abominations that you can lovingly raise for battle? Testing your mettle as a breeder? On paper, this game has it all. But there’s a bit more than meets the eye here, you get more than what you bargained for in The Monster Breeder, but is that necessarily a good thing?
The Monster Breeder
Developer: Fantasy Creations
Publisher: Fantasy Creations
Platform: Windows PC (Previewed)
Release Date: January 19th, 2022
Players take on the role of an eccentric monster breeder and arcanist. With your plot of land you begin your career in bloodsport by raising your first monster from among 3 main groups: Carnivora, Insectoid, and Reptiles. Don’t let the simplicity here fool you as there are a handful of subspecies within these large umbrellas. Wolves, Lizards, Bears, Arachnids, the list goes on.
These monsters have a cumbersome amount of stats and variables. Crit chance, damage, defense, all the staples are there. But have you ever considered the humidity of their environment? How fearful they are of things like fire and insects? The Monster Breeder has thought of these things, and you’ll need to as well.
Already you’ll have your hands full navigating this new world of monster breeding. But if your hands weren’t full enough already, the game also expects you to manage a stable of competent human fighters as well.
In stark contrast to the title of The Monster Breeder, training and outfitting human fighters is as important, if not more important than raising your monster. Which, to be honest, is a shame in my opinion.
Unlike breeding monsters, there’s no investment in the lives or careers of these sellswords. Yeah you might develop a fondness for one, but ultimately they’re disposable ancillary units. So not only will you need to raise your monsters, but you’ll also need to keep a healthy supply of soldiers expensively outfitted to have a chance in the game’s monthly tournaments.
These tournaments feature a variety of competitions with drastically varying team compositions, hence the need to be ready with a literal army at your disposal. If it wasn’t enough to juggle Monsters, Warriors, Archers, and Sorcerers, some fights are even particular about what equipment you can equip. I hope you have enough axes for the swords vs. axe battle.
So what else do we need to keep track of? Well there’s also potions that are integral to properly raising and breeding your monsters. These potions have a variety of affects and most interestingly allow species from different groups to breed, so if you ever wanted a Spider-Bear, now’s your chance.
Luckily, for weapons and potions you can hire craftsmen! Yet another group of hirelings to take care of. Your blacksmiths can custom make just about anything you need if you provide the materials, same with your alchemists.
But that’s just it, with so many moving parts and stats to keep track of between all your monsters, all your soldiers, and even some craftsmen; it’s far too easy to just throw up your hands and let something slip before you click the “End Turn” button and go to the next month.
When you head into the fights you’re introduced to a hex-based arena with some minor terrain effects; which are expected of a true gladiator arena. To be honest I had a fight glitch out where I was stuck on the enemy turn forever.
Afterwards I decided to just auto-resolve all combat, which is a welcome option. After neurotically managing my homestead (more like a village unto itself at this point) I don’t want to spend half an hour in a fight that can be done for me in one click.
Now all this isn’t to say everything is bad. The attention to detail that Fantasy Creations provides lays a strong groundwork for a great management game. But that’s what you get, a game of managing resources both living and material. If you expected the kind of connection you’d feel in games like Monster Rancher, you had best look elsewhere.
I applaud and admire Fantasy Creation’s ambition with The Monster Breeder. Like I said at the start, on paper this game is practically a dream come true for fans of raising simulators. But it’s that same ambition that ultimately burdens the game.
It’s a monster raising simulator, it’s an army management simulator, it’s a crafting and gathering simulator. The Monster Breeder ultimately suffers from an identity crisis where you spend so much time managing your base and resources that you’re too drained to actually enjoy them and the fighting has become a chore in the way of performing more management.
Ultimately the game has potential and as it stands right now is definitely appealing to players who enjoy this sort of meticulous management. But compared to staples of the genre, the variables to keep track of in The Monster Breeder quickly become overwhelming.
The Monster Breeder was previewed on a Windows PC via Steam using a preview demo provided by Fantasy Creations.