Once Undertale appeared, we started to see games appear to capitalize on the interest in that sort of take on seeing how the characters we consider “monsters” might live. Developers would tell stories humanizing them or showing what happens when ordinary humans happen upon them. Meg’s Monster, from Fishing Paradiso developer Odencat, is one such game. It’s pleasant and never overstays its welcome, but also only really focuses on its main characters and isn’t as adept at creating a vibrant world filled with memorable NPCs.
Meg’s Monster begins with a young woman looking back on her past. She’s trying to find answers after an incident in her youth, which led her to a laboratory. Once there, she experiences a major flashback and suddenly begins to remember the time she dropped into the underworld.
Yes, at one point in time, an incident at the lab where Meg’s mom worked led to her falling into the monster-filled underworld beneath the planet’s surface. Fortunately, when that happened, an incredibly strong and resilient monster named Roy was there. When she began to cry, due to the incredibly jarring circumstances of being separated from her parent and lost in a terrifying area, the two monsters realized that it felt as though the world was about to end. For the sake of their survival, they decide to protect the girl from the monsters who’d normally see such a kid as a snack, attempt to keep her from crying and ending it all, and seeing if they can reunite her with her mom. However, there’s also a mysterious man involved, as well as a monster Council determined to keep a monster-human nonaggression pact in place.
The idea of Meg’s Monster is that Roy is basically indestructible and capable of beating up any monster. So there are no random battles. Only fights against major, worthy opponents appear. However, since he’s unbeatable, “damage” comes from the mental damage she experiences seeing him get hurt. Said fights are relatively easy and serve more as means to further the story and briefly showcase obstacles or characters, rather than actually challenge the player.
For example, in one fight right when I’d run out of the toys you use to replenish Meg’s psyche so she won’t cry and end the world, the opponent fell asleep. This left an easy opportunity to defeat them. Attacks are clearly telegraphed, as are moments when you can do something like perform a special action that can help with finishing a fight. Not to mention in another fight, when it seemed like Meg hit her limit, instead she found Roy getting hurt “funny” and recovered all her mental fortitude on her own. So really, it’s more babysitting her, then reacting with a toy unlocked as you proceed through the story to make her happy again.
It’s all heavily scripted, though I did purposely fail a fight to see if it could happen. (It can, and you get an option to try again.) There are no items to really collect. The game auto-saves. You pick locations on a small map and automatically end up there, rather than traversing the underworld. Each story segment also serves to show how Roy and Meg are getting closer, as well as how monsters and humans tend to interact in this world. It works well, and the art direction means monsters do all seem quite distinct even with some minimalistic design.
However, due the simplicity of Meg’s Monster, there can be some issues when conveying information. Essentially, since it opts for speech bubbles, it means there can be a lot of overlap. Characters can be hidden, including ones who are a part of the conversation. Dialogue selection options can cover what someone recently said. It’s not a big issue. However, since the character designs are rather nice, it’s a bit frustrating when they are hidden.
It also means there isn’t much context or backstory presented for characters in the name of moving things along. Unless someone is a major figure, like Roy, Meg, Golan, Paul, or Gustav, they can flit in and out of the plot. This means you might see Council members coming to check in on Roy and Meg and not know who these people are or why they might matter.
I’d even consider Meg’s Monster trying to be a “lite” version of Undertale. There’s a bit more skill to Undertale, especially if you’re going for a pacifist route, but it mimics the same sort of ambiance and personality of an “underworld” area below the human world filled with monsters who can be surprisingly personable. There’s a bit more gruffness in terms of the language, and it can be a bit more ominous. I wouldn’t say it’s as silly, and there are fewer memorable characters. However, the designs are fun and there are moments when it can be quite clever.
I do wish that it gave people more changes to really connect with the larger cast and experience more side-stories. Roy, Meg, and to a lesser extent Golan are the main focuses here. There are occasional moments when a green exclamation point will appear on the map, allowing someone to pop in and briefly take part in an exchange with other NPCs. However, these tend to be quite brief and even ones with side quest elements to them, such as preparing a hamburger, don’t involve too much thought or offer any reward other than talking to other monsters for a while.
Meg’s Monster will come to the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC on March 2, 2023.