Always Sometimes Monsters is popping and bumping great music from the start and its soundtrack definitely fits the cruise mode storytelling techniques used by development house Vagabond Dog as players are thrust head first into the psychological thriller that is this game.
In terms of gameplay players can expect an Adventure with RPG elements such as item accumulation and finding the best use of quest items in a world full of people who all need something. Players will also get the chance to name some characters as they go, while others have pre-assigned names. Gameplay also involves making choices like, to kiss or not to kiss! And who knows what else… because at RGN we certainly don’t believe in spoilers – especially during Reviews. Let’s just say some choices have a way bigger impact on the the life of characters depicted in Always Sometimes Monsters, but are sometimes presented in a vague and mysterious way to keep things interesting. The consequences of actions may appear obvious-seeming like helping an old lady with her purse or not wasting your precious time to avoid being late for hot work opportunities, but can have widespread effects later down the road, giving personification to the old saying “you never know who’s who!”
The Fate system is a centerpiece as players are effecting their future by making their own choices. As Vagabond Dog says, Circumstance dictates the evaluation of risk and benefit which decides our choice – and Consequence takes care of the rest. Always Sometimes Monsters goes out of its way to tackle social issues gracefully such as characters being trans-gender or bisexual. Decisions between love as a focus in life or something else like a career may come into play, or otherwise separate paths one can take.
Graphically the game looks great for a retro-inspired art style. Animations that haven’t been done before such as 8 bit bong rips certainly add to the unique feel of the game and the overall planning of visuals in the game have been given a lot of attention. The lack of voice overs may prevent some full enjoyment from certain players, but long-time veterans of the role playing game genre should find themselves at home with this format of play despite the game being a text-based, reading-involved adventure. To be honest, reading is very good for you and can be fun in its own nerdy way – yeah I said it; deal with it. Besides, there aren’t any billionaires yet who don’t read every day – and you like money right?
Anyways, this game isn’t about that. Always Sometimes Monsters has a gripping presentation and a really enjoyable gameplay experience just waiting for players to sink their teeth into. During this game, I actually felt as if I were the characters I was taking control of. I really understood their story and was presented with an unpredictable world full of interactive environments, other people to interact with (NPCs), and more. These tools are made available for the player to simulate the life of this person throughout the given scenes that take place. It’s very exhilarating and different from anything I’ve ever played. The scenarios in ASM are unique and not your average canon to say the least.
Controls – Despite being standard industry practice, it’s a bit disappointing to see sub-par support for legacy gamepad controllers. Most of them are very old, but this is on the Windows PC platform of course, and simply forcing everyone into buying an Xbox 360 controller or using XB360 Controller Emulators isn’t a totally fair nor complete value offer when other drivers could have easily been included as with many other modern games being released on the Steam market. That being said, the title handles fine on PS4 controllers if the ControllerMAX Physical Adapter is used or for those tech-savvy, some sort of Controller Emulation. A Keyboard can also be used to play the game and both controls are equally responsive so there is nothing to complain about outside of the support issues aforementioned above.
Of course, to find such a small issue with the game is not very much of a disaster. Always Sometimes Monsters is an emotional piece of art that moves us and inspires us. Without taking heed to genre or rulesets of society or any other kind, Vagabond Dog has created something that is new, fun, and has meaning.
We applaud the originality in this game’s writing. Despite retro-inspired graphics and text-based dialogue giving the game a requirement for focus on the player’s part, Always Sometimes Monsters grips us in ways we have never felt before thanks in no small part to an amazing Soundtrack and real-feeling cast of abnormal characters. We truly cared about what was happening, but much like real life – had less control over events than we thought when making our decisions and taking action to solve the problems of the characters in-game. RealGamerNewz highly recommends this game for players of all types – it’s one of those titles you have to try at least once, and that you won’t ever forget afterwards. Always Sometimes Monsters gets a 9.5 out of 10 and is awarded the prestige of being an RGN Gold Game.
Official Teaser Trailer:
Overall Score: 9.5 / 10
RGN Rating: Gold Game
Developer: Vagabond Dog
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Available On: Windows PC
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this product was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this Review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jon Ireson on 20140531 and was last modified on 20140601 .