Atlus Master of the Monster Lair
A great dungeon-building concept in a small RPG.
- Interesting dungeon mechanics, being able to customise your lair is a unique and thought-provoking gimmick
- Completely forgettable story and characters, overly simple combat gets old way too quickly, repetitive gameplay hinders overall package
Master of Monster Lair's dungeon building is fun at first, but the charm never quite sticks.
Master of Monster Lair puts a great dungeon-building concept into a small RPG, making this DS title a true thinking man's game. However, the repetitive nature of building levels and killing wave after wave of monsters will get old after a while. It's a unique game, but one that may be too niche for too many people.
Being a fan of many Atlus games, it was hard to put my finger on exactly what I liked and disliked about Master of Monster Lair. In this game, you assume the role of a young boy unwittingly drafted into the kingdom's monster elimination squad after inadvertently unearthing a magical talking shovel. After accepting your new duty, the shovel teaches you how to trap the dangerous monsters roaming the land in dungeons that you build and design.
This, to say the least, is one of the strangest premises I've heard in an RPG yet.
At least Master of Monster Lair incorporates several incentives into developing your dungeon skills, with various ways to increase your abilities. I liked being able to trap and defeat so many kinds of monsters, which in turn allowed me to use their remains to cook foods that buffed my HP, magical skills, and other stats. As your proficiency with shovelling out dungeons grows, you'll gain access to more types of rooms that you use to catch bigger prey. While the concept is a bit of a noggin-scratcher at first, Master of Monster Lair is paced so that you'll never get in over your head too early on.
Despite the game's originality, everything from the story (which is told via unbearably long paragraphs of scripted text) to the slightly cliched character archetypes may prevent even hardcore RPG fans from getting too invested in it. Personally, I got tired of building up my characters' skills and attributes when I was repeating the same build-fight-sleep cycle day in and day out. Moreover, my dungeons, no matter how intricate they got, eventually became a headache for me to maintain.
Don't get me wrong, Master of Monster Lair is a decent game that's worth picking up, but it's nowhere near as entertaining a week down the road as it is during the first few hours.
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