Monster Sanctuary from Moi Rai Games and Team17 has now left Early Access as a finished game, along with a bunch of extra content in the 1.0 update.
Clearly and obviously inspired by the likes of Pokemon and other similar titles, Monster Sanctuary still manages to offer its own unique take on monster catching. It's blends together a side-scrolling platformer metroidvania with turn-based tactical battles, with the result being very good. With various monsters having different active abilities in the main exploration, you will need the help of these critters to get past different obstacles and it's a lot of fun to try and hatch them all.
Much like Pokemon, it's somewhat engrossing and dare I say it…a little addictive. I really do just want to explore every nook and cranny to ensure I haven't missed any secret areas that might have another unique monster.
What's nice about Monster Sanctuary is the way you actually get the monsters. You don't catch them or force them into some magical ball, instead you get a chance to get an egg from your encounters - the rarity of which will depend on how you do in battle. Once the battle is finished, if you're lucky enough to get an egg you can hatch away and add to your growing collection.
Visually, it's absolutely charming. Exactly what you want and expect in a metroidvania platformer. It's not as beautiful perhaps as some others but with the focus on the combat and the creatures, it's still great and thoroughly enjoyable. It's the audio work that really gets me though, I absolutely love the battles thanks to the fantastic sound effects across all the different abilities.
The actual monster system is great too, with a little depth to it even. Each monster has their own weapon and accessories they can equip to boost their stats, plus with the different elements they all have strengths and weaknesses too. Each monster can level up individually too, and you get to pick through different trees of skills to level up or give them entirely new abilities. There's a lot to love about building up a strong and varied team of creatures.
With the 1.0 release out now it adds in some extra content including: an Abandoned Tower to explore with new monsters, a new secret area with new monsters, post-game content that sees you try to become the Keeper Master and once done you then get access to the Eternity's End area with more combat encounters. On top of that a few new areas were added, that can only be accessed using some new late-game monster abilities.
Honestly, it's great. One to pick up if you love monster catchers.