Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook Review

A dungeon-crawling JRPG roguelike is likely one of the final style blends I ever anticipated to see, however right here we’re. It’s an particularly shocking experiment coming from NIS America, a studio so well-known for the grind-embracing gluttony of JRPGs like Disgaea the place the joys is in amassing a wealth of EXP, a set of things, and a everlasting hoard of loot. There’s little or no permanence to Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook, although. As a substitute, NIS America has cooked up a repeatable dungeon dive with an infusion of survival and cooking mechanics that’s all the time difficult you to do only one extra run – though typically, it isn’t all that thrilling to take the sport up on that supply.

Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook kicks off with a paper-thin story – you’re an adventurer who set off for a area referred to as the Sealed Lands, however you find yourself stranded there with out provides. After discovering a base camp and miraculously assembly three different customisable adventurers, your new crew has to discover a strategy to escape the endlessly randomised realm of the Sealed Lands. There’s principally no story within the sport to talk of past these opening moments – not even occasion banter or foolish, one-off dialogue – which is a disgrace when video games like Hades present an expertise that dishes out gameplay development and character story beats equally. You’d suppose that form of mix would work wonders with the wacky worlds and characters NIS is so nice at making, however we lack this type of narrative persona that the studio is thought.

Beginning a run in Scavenger’s Cookbook drops you into the primary ground of the primary themed Orgonne area: the Ruins. Every of those flooring is barely randomised, however solely barely with their layouts hardly ever supply any distinctive motion or exploration challenges. You’ll principally simply be combating enemies, scavenging, and repeating till you attain the ultimate ground the place the Orgonne boss lives. Defeat it and also you’ll unlock a teleport level to the following Orgonne so you may all the time begin there any more.

Monstert Menu combat

There’s a component of senseless enjoyable to the easy layouts of every ground – it’s kind of a bite-sized providing of contextless JRPG battles – and in a vacuum they’re enjoyable sufficient. It’s all too straightforward to disregard battles and simply transfer to the following ground due to the easy structure of every room, however since your ranges and food-provided expertise reset on dying, you do have a little bit of an incentive to attempt to sort out as many battles as you may to prep for the ultimate boss of the Orgonne.

Oh, yeah. Meals offers you expertise. Meals is large in Monster Menu… however perhaps not as enormous because it may very well be. Many of the gadgets you scavenge on a ground will likely be cooking supplies like hay, flowers, and monster components, and your characters have Calorie and Hydration meters which might be always draining, so your aim is to return to camp after every ground to cook dinner dishes and feed them to your crew.

Monster Menu camp

There’s one thing fascinating concerning the concept of a JRPG the place your strongest talent is cooking, however the sport and UI design simply don’t again it up right here. You by no means really feel too concerned within the meals prep course of, such as you would with the cooking or crafting minigames in video games like Atelier Ryza or Cooking Mama. You simply choose a pre-determined recipe and the sport routinely grabs the elements you want. The meals you may create from random ingredient combos are reliant in your characters cooking talent degree as effectively, in order that sense of discovery you may hope for in whipping collectively random elements is seldom rewarded within the early sport.

The total package deal right here feels mild, particularly within the early hours. With no story, minimal room or enemy selection, and a fundamental cooking mechanic, Monster Menu lacks the quick selection and meta-progression that make different roguelikes excel at to actually hook gamers.

Monster Menu cooking

As you unlock extra Orgonnes and might extra persistently construct high-level characters, the sport will get a bit extra satisfying. It finally ends up feeling much less like a tactical roguelike, although, and extra like a JRPG Simulator the place you intend talent and kit combos that promise an fascinating occasion composition, then dive into the Orgonne to degree them up and take a look at simply how effectively their synergy delivers.

I can’t see common roguelike enjoyers feeling all that immersed in exploring the Sealed Lands, however if you happen to’re JRPG obsessed and love the thought of with the ability to rapidly bounce into chunk sized encounters like this, you would create your individual magic and cook dinner up a enjoyable dungeon-diving expertise. It’s only a snack-sized one relatively than a three-course meal.

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