Monster Sanctuary Review – A Pixel Monsterpiece

Monster Sanctuary, the pixel art monster collecting game, developed by Moa Rai Games and published by the widely known Team17 just released on launch day, December 8th, for Xbox Game Pass. Monster Sanctuary is also available for Steam, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

Monster Sanctuary got added to Xbox Game Pass upon release and I immediately got interested in this unknown pixel beauty. Excited to start a Monster Sanctuary review, I got started right away.

Monster Sanctuary is probably the most original Pokemon-esque game you’ll ever play. Featuring over 100 monsters to tame and evolve as well as use their abilities to reach otherwise unreachable areas. Doing so can help you acquire more chests containing equipment or other important things for your team.

Get Familiar With Your Spectral Familiars and Other Monsters

In Monster Sanctuary you are the heir to the long line of Monster Tamers in your family. You will explore the world with the monsters you encounter and find secrets hidden throughout. You get to choose from four different wonderful, beautifully designed monsters to start your adventure . Doing so also decides what clan you will belong to.

Below, we’ll go over specific detail of each starting monster, known as Spectral Familiars, you can start with and what clan they are aligned with. The Spectral Familiars are ageless protectors of their families, being passed down from one tamer to the next. The four Spectral Familiars you can choose from are as follows:

  • Spectral Wolf – Vales bloodline
  • Spectral Toad – Heqet bloodline
  • Spectral Eagle – Thiazi bloodline
  • Spectral Lion – Narasimha bloodline

Depending on what character and Familiar you choose, you’ll also be deciding what monsters your fellow monster tamers are going to be partnered with.

It took me a while to decide what monster I wanted by my side the whole game but ultimately I went with Spectral Wolf because its skills and appearance just stood out to me the most but with 9 save slots, you’re free to explore them all.

Monster Sanctuary Spectral Familiar
Credit: Team17

I found all of the monsters and overall environment of Monster Sanctuary entirely original and fresh throughout. It held my interest every second I played.

Killing monsters gives you the chance to collect an egg of that monster, hatch it and add it to your team. Leveling up your monsters will unlock skill points for your monster’s ever expansive skill trees, which is just one of many ways to make your monsters stronger.

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As you explore deep into different areas you’ll encounter stronger than the average monsters called Champion Monsters. Champion Monsters are the stronger, more rare monsters you’ll encounter in the game and they take A LOT of damage. Champion Monsters can also attack twice in one turn compared to your once per monster per turn. Most of the time, you’ll have to defeat them to advance in the story.

Monster Sanctuary is Loaded With Skills and Abilities

When you decide what Spectral Familiar you’ll be using, you can see their stats and type information. All monsters have a weakness and a strength. Any time you open the menu, you can easily access all of your monsters in your team and can instantly edit their skills and equipment as well as other things.

You can also upgrade weapons and accessories at the Tower.

Every step I took in Monster Sanctuary made me want to step further and further into the world it presented to me. Every area containing its own obstacles and threats makes even the smallest journey to another area feel that much more rewarding, new and captivating.

Every monster has a skill tree with main abilities and attacks, as well as passive abilities and buffs to current abilities. You can see an example of a skill tree below.

Monster Sanctuary Skill Tree
Credit: Team17

As soon as my monsters levelled up, I was excited to spend my skill points immediately. Yet another thing that constantly peaked my interest was the difference in each monsters abilities in every aspect.

Monster Sanctuary is just packed with interesting little features that make a big difference compared to other games in its genres.

One of the coolest things in my opinion are the out-of-battle abilities that monsters have called Explore Abilities. Each monster has at least one ability that can be used outside of battle to help you do something helpful like destroy a secret wall or activate a water or fire orb to remove a barrier.

Monster Sanctuary Explore Ability
Credit: Team17

You can select the Explore Ability you wish to use from any monster you have tamed.

Another cool thing in Monster Sanctuary I found unique compared to other games in its genre, is the ability to see all of your monster without having to access some sort of hub first. I found this extremely convenient and it’s one of many features I applaud the developers behind the game for including.

Items such as apples and other foods can be used to give your monsters increased stats in battle. However, be aware that only the last 3 foods each monster has eaten will apply.

Monster Sanctuary’s Flawless Combat System

I found the combat system to be very original and fun to use without compromising anything at all. Combat is fast enough to never feel too slow and keeps your attention.

As stated earlier, you don’t have to worry about running out of space with your monsters. As you exceed more than 6 monsters, you’ll have your main party of 6 to organize and the rest will be available for you to edit and organize as you please.

This way you can easily train what weaker monsters you want then right before a Champion Monster encounter you can switch to your stronger monsters.

When starting combat, you can select 3 of your 6 monsters to engage in battle and this is quite helpful due to the fact you can see your enemies weaknesses and strengths as well as your own.

Monster Sanctuary Combat
Credit: Team17

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Also, while you’re in combat and selecting your monsters attacks, you can see exactly how much damage it is going to do to any enemy that attack is going to hit. As well as how much damage it is going to do to any monster it hits.

You can also see exactly what effects your attacks will have applied to them. You can also constantly see yours and your opponents debuffs and active status on monsters such as poison and burn.

Monster Sanctuary Combat
Credit: Team17

Monster Sanctuary PVP is a 3V3 Dream

In order to unlock PVP battles against other players, you’re going to need to acquire the rank of Keeper Lancer. As you defeat more Champion Monsters, your rank will increase. Upon defeating 7 Champions you’ll get the rank of Keeper Lancer and gain the opportunity to play PvP.

Monster Sanctuary PVP Multiplayer
Credit: Team17

Personally, I found PVP in Monster Sanctuary to be just as fun as I enjoyed exploring and defeating monsters before reaching the rank of Lancer Keeper. I may even spend more time exploring than playing other players, at least at first.

Even after suffering a loss, the rewards in PVP in Monster Sanctuary are well worth any attempt to destroy your opponent and prove you’re the better Monster Tamer.

However, be aware as every PVP team I encountered in Keeper’s Tower was at the highest level of 40 and my monsters were no match.

Also, all wins and losses are recorded and can be viewed before every matchmaking session.

Ultimately, I found every aspect of Monster Sanctuary to be original, creative and very impressive.

It’s pixelated art style is surprisingly fresh and smooth. The music of Monster Sanctuary fits every scenario it’s played in perfectly and everything little thing about the monsters are absolutely fantastic.

From the unique Explore Abilities to the complete customization of your monsters and interesting storyline exploratory experience of Monster Sanctuary, I loved it all. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be putting this one down for a while with how much I loved it.

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