I'm an avid gamer who loves all types of games from any genre.
Monster Train is a roguelike deck builder developed by Shiny Shoe. In it, you fight off the minions of heaven from reaching the pyre that will reignite Hell, which you are transporting on a train. I am a huge fan of card games and roguelikes, so this game was right up my alley. But how does it hold up compared to the multitude of other roguelikes out there? Let's find out!
The art in Monster Train is simply superb. The art style is distinctive and the character designs are fantastic. In the game, there are five factions that all have different cards that you can choose from. Each faction has very distinct and unique aesthetics. I absolutely love the designs of all the characters. The enemies are not just bog-standard angels, there are a lot of unique designs. The animations and effects are superb as well. They are simple enough to not clutter the screen but also add a lot of personality to the game.
The sound design in Monster Train is great as well. The music is catchy and exciting. All the tracks fit the scenery and bosses very well. Oftentimes the music will have railroad sounds mixed in, such as the clang of metal or the sound of a train barreling along the tracks. It’s very unique and really adds to the flavor of the game. The sound effects are very good as well. They are punchy and have a lot of weight on them.
If you have played other roguelike deck builders, Monster Train’s gameplay will feel familiar. Before a run, you pick a primary faction and a secondary faction. Your primary faction will determine which champion you get and add that faction’s cards to the card pool. A champion is an extra powerful minion that is upgraded throughout your run. It usually dictates what deck you should try to build, but that is not always the case. The secondary faction you pick will simply add that faction’s cards to the pool of cards you will get throughout your run. There was also a recent update for the game that allows you to play with mutators that shake up the gameplay. Then once you start your run will start going down a track (literally). You will quickly get to your first battle.
The battles in Monster Train play out on a battlefield with four levels. Enemies will constantly flow in from the bottom level and try to reach the top where your pyre is. You have the bottom three levels to work with and try to stop the flow of enemies. You can place down minions on each floor, as long as they fit within the size limit. Then from there, you use spells from your hand and attacks from your minions to defeat your enemies.
When I first saw the gameplay of Monster Train, it was overwhelming. A lot was going on with all the minion combat, multiple floors, and size limits. However, when I started playing I quickly got a hang of the mechanics. The complexity of the game does not make it hard to get into, it simply makes it harder to master.
Adding on to that complexity is the myriad of choices you will make in a run. There are special events where you can get passive artifacts, upgrade cards, delete and duplicate cards in your deck, etc. Then there are the combinations of different factions that you can play. Each faction has different deck archetypes that their cards allow them to build. Trying to weave these different synergies between two different classes is challenging, but adds a lot of variety and replayability to the game. The game can be fun when played passively, but It also allows you to really optimize your deck and gameplay because of all of the different mechanics. It all adds up and makes the game very rewarding when you can make your deck the best it can be.
The one gripe I have with the gameplay is the lack of boss variety. There are three major bosses in the game. Each run you will face them in the exact same order. There is a unique pool of modifiers for each boss that they will pull from when you encounter them. This does switch their gameplay up, but the modifier pool is small enough that you will see all of them within just a couple of runs. I would love to see more bosses put into the game to add more variety. I’m sure this will happen at some point since the developers seem dedicated to updating the game frequently.
Monster Train is a very fun deck builder. It has a familiar formula, but it mixes it up in unique ways. Not just the gameplay, but the aesthetics and flavor as well. I found everything about it incredibly enjoyable and well crafted. There is a lot of variety and replayability in this game, so it will last you a while. If you like roguelikes and deck builders I cannot recommend this game enough.