What Is Monster Hunter Stories?
Monster Hunter Stories is a role-playing game set within the Monster Hunter series. Unlike any of the previous titles in the Monster Hunter series, Monster Hunter Stories lets you take on the role of a Rider instead of a Hunter, and combat is now an RPG turn-based system rather than the Action RPG style of the main franchise.
In Monster Hunter Stories, you play as Lute (or whatever you want to call yourself), a novice monster rider interested in exploring the world. Lute wants to explore the world in order to better understand the relationship between monsters and riders. Together with his companion Navirou, Lute sets forth into the world looking for answers about an unexplained phenomenon in the form of a black mist, meeting various helpful individuals along the way.
The game also has Amiibo support with some cool looking Amiibos that you can use both before and after the main story concludes to unlock some original and special monsters as well as some other bonuses. You can even swap the riders for each one making these Amiibos a must buy. You can check those out here.
Taking on the role of a Rider you can befriend monsters by stealing their eggs and hatching them. If that sounds a bit suspect then you are not alone in thinking this. I wonder why no one ever thought of taming them first?
Once you have escaped with your egg you then must visit the Stable Paw, a Felyne that will help you hatch your new Monstie. Yes, you did read that right, Monstie, as the game states early on “Monstie is a combination of the words Monster and Bestie”, not a very good name to call these giant creatures that battle alongside you but I guess that it has a friendlier tone than ‘vicious rideable dinosaur’.
You then have the ability to name your newest Monstie, ride them in the field, and have them join you in battle. The battles now have an RPG turn-based combat system and during your turn, both you and your Monstie will get to attack the enemy. Attacks for both you and the enemy come in three categories: Power, Speed, and Technique. Each category is stronger against one in particular, similar to Rock-paper-scissors, Power will win against Technique, Speed will win against Power, and Technique will win against Speed. This makes combat quite simple and monsters in the wild have different attack patterns that they follow, which is both a good and a bad thing. Some of the patterns are quite complicated and aside from writing them down or looking them up on a wiki there is no in game way to remember each monster’s individual pattern.
In this game, you only have a choice of four weapons to use in battle, those being the Great Sword, the Sword & Shield, the Hammer, and the Hunting Horn. In battles, you can use items that you find and buy in the world that will aid you in battle, but you can only use a maximum of ten different items that you can change whenever you like outside of fights. This feature makes you think about the environment and the type of monsters you will be facing and what items you will need when facing them. You also have access to different skills depending on what weapon and equipment you use and their respective levels.
Finally, in battles, you have a three-strike system, similar to the main series, where if you or your Monstie are defeated you have up to two more defeats before you lose the game and have to start from your last checkpoint, so save often to avoid losing lots of progress.
Monsties can be customized with the Transmission Ceremony feature, in which you transfer Bond Genes into a monster’s slots in order to unlock and awaken their stats and abilities. This allows for further customization and adjustment to your play style.
When in the world there is a lot to explore and do, from finding lost Poogies to get rewards, to finding item chests, to battling wild monsters, to exploring the caves/dungeons that contain monster eggs. The caves themselves come in two different formats and then vary in size based on the area that you are in. Normal caves look like caves would look like, but rare caves are golden and these caves house the best monster eggs as well as the best monsters of your current area defending them.
You can also use different monster’s abilities while out of combat. Some of the abilities include jumping, breaking rocks, climbing vines, locating items and scaring away monsters. These abilities make exploring the world and having the right monsters in your party of 6 essential to getting all of the rare items and lost Poogies in the world. Poogies are pigs in different clothes and every 10 Poogies that you find you are rewarded with something to help you along the way.
The game also features multiplayer battles via local or Internet connection. In these fights, you can set up specific rules for your battle and the battles play exactly like the single player so you don’t have to get worried about any new tricks that you need to learn.
In my opinion, as this was my first venture into the Monster Hunter Series, I was captivated. The gorgeous art style was done by Level 5 and the beautiful soundtrack really makes the game feel both warm and inviting in the open world as well as intense and unnerving during the battles.
The gameplay itself really feels very fluid and easy to comprehend as the Rock, Paper, Scissors approach to combat allows even the younger audience to understand but picking up on the attack patterns of the different monsters get more complicated as the game progresses. The ability to ride and use monster abilities in the open world make the monsters feel useful outside of combat