Looking for a card battler or a deck builder? More into tower defence? Monster Train offers dollops of deck building, card battling and turn based pyre defence with a pinch of rogue like. Draw some cards from a menagerie of over 200, upgrade your champions and chugga chugga choo choo through the campaign story.
Hell has frozen over (could it be climate change?). The final burning pyre travels on a (steam) train packed with monsters that presumably prefer warmer beaches to Christmas themed downhill skiing. Against the forces of heaven, travel to a mysterious destination that is key to restoring more balmy temperatures.
Playability: Multi floor turn based tower defence card battle
Monster Train deftly mixes genres. At its heart, the game is a deck building card battler that simultaneously takes place on the four floors of a train. The pyre which occupies the top floor has limited health and automatically retaliates against the waves of assailants who have survived your previous defences. Your enemies are at times protected by flying bosses that move deftly up and down floors dealing damage where it annoys you the most… It sounds more complex than it really is. You simply draw cards and play characters and spells on a chosen floor to annihilate the waves of enemies moving up to your precious pyre.
Annoyance: Single track no tower attack
Your train travels in a straight line and occasionally encounters a fork, but choices are limited to left for this treasure or right for that upgrade. The campaign story provides a background yarn and distraction for what could be tedious waves of battles. Eventually, it would be great to play the attacking side and smash the pyre to smithereens. Monster Train has incredible potential for incorporating more role playing elements and free roaming opportunities. The map makes the Copenhagen metro (which only has four lines) comparatively complex.
Beauty: Cartoon groan
Monster train shines in colourful cartoon style drawings, straight from the palette of classic Tom and Jerry episodes. On a big monitor, Monster Train proudly struts around showing an expansive menagerie of crawler, flyers, robotic, vegetal and animal creatures. While the cards are vivid and eye catching, character animation is limited and sound effects rely on pedestrian groans and grunts. Your train travels through picturesque locales but there’s no opportunity for local discoveries as the game literally railroads you onto the next stage.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Colourful card battling infatuation 8/10
Monster Train doesn’t stray far from the well-trodden tropes and winning formulae of classic gameplay, be it tower defence or card battling. The game shines with its fluid combination of genres. The variety of cards, factions, characters and spells will keep you coming for more rogue like punishment. Monster train looks innocuous and is very easy to pick up. You can skip the tutorial and start playing with the shiny colourful cards on a whim, but you’ll soon discover that the game is hard to put down. There’s the gotta catch all cards factor, the complete the campaign factor, the playing different faction factor, the iron (wo)man masochist factor, the try undiscovered card combinations factor, whatever scratches your itches. Eventually you’ll need to pay closer attention to card description and learn the actual rules of the game to build decks more adapted to your style of play, from dealing massive pain to being able to absorb stupendous damage.
Looking for more deck building action? Have a look at our review of Card City Nights, another happy go lucky card battler.