High school can be rough for a lot of people (myself included), and there are undoubtedly parts of it that we might want to forget during our awkward teenage years. However, the upcoming multiplayer game Monster Prom might be the best parts of high school wrapped up in a fun, lighthearted party game experience.
At PAX East 2018, we had the chance to check out Monster Prom from developer Beautiful Glitch and publisher Those Awesome Guys. As its title implies, there is a quirky energy to the game in its tone and setting, but after getting some time with the title and trying (and failing) to find a date for the monster school prom, it’s clear that Monster Prom will offer a refreshing and unique party experience for players that want to have a good time, and (hopefully) date a cute monster along the way.
Monster Prom is a visual novel/dating sim crossed with a party game, where players take on the role of teens at Spooky High trying to find a date. Over the course of three weeks and several rounds of play, the ultimate goal for players is to ask one of six sexy monster love interests to go with you to the school’s highlight of the year, Monster Prom.
Finding your date to Monster Prom takes place through several in-game decisions and events that influence your character’s stats and, in turn, influence your relationships with each of your potential monster dates. Players have six different stats that are affected by the decisions you make throughout each game — Smarts, Boldness, Creativity, Charm, Fun, and Money — and given the nature of the game, it’s up to you to decide what stats you want to invest the most in that might get you a better chance of scoring your date of choice to the prom.
Essentially, each round in Monster Prom lets you pick a different location of Spooky High (such as the Gym, the Cafeteria, the Bathroom, etc.) that provides a new in-game event with one or more of the potential love interests you might be trying to woo to the prom. Aside from the in-game events, you can also purchase items at select points in the game to further your chances with your romantic interest, or open up entirely new dialogue options that wouldn’t be available without them.
While dating sims seem like they wouldn’t immediately work within the format of a multiplayer party game, Monster Prom shows that the concept actually works surprisingly well. With the hook of trying to win the affection of your monster of choice, there is a great competitive incentive as players try to get their favorite monster’s attention, and works even better when several players might be competing to take the same monster to the prom and try to sabotage one another.
In the demo we played at PAX East, Monster Prom provided two options for a full-length game (which seems like it can run between an hour to 90 minutes), or a shorter duration game that can be finished in around 20-30 minutes. As we played with two players passing the controller around to one another, Monster Prom already shows promise as a fun, local multiplayer experience with friends getting together at a party, though I think the game could definitely be something that players online can have a good time with while streaming, a la the Jackbox Party Pack games, when it is (hopefully) integrated beyond launch.
Aside from the gameplay and its elements that blend dating sims with party games, one of the most striking qualities of Monster Prom is its art and humor. The character art and details throughout the game add a charming personality to the monsters that you are trying to take to prom, and the humor also gets into some hilarious (and downright risque places). While sometimes I found that the humor was maybe trying a little too hard to be edgy and raunchy, those that like outrageous party games will surely find a lot to like in Monster Prom.
Really after playing the game, my takeaway was that Monster Prom feels almost like a digital board game, given that it seems to work well (so far) as a local multiplayer experience. While the game’s rounds are short (by design) to fit its party game setting, the developers at PAX East explained that hundreds of different outcomes and situations are possible depending on the choices that players make, so it’s easy to see that Monster Prom is designed to be replayed numerous times. While it can be played solo, really Monster Prom is meant to be played with friends, and so far it seems to straddle the line nicely between giving players just enough of a fun experience, but in a short enough duration that fits well for parties.
Dating sims are far from a genre that I’ve ever really gotten much time to play, but after playing it so far, Monster Prom seems like the type of experience I wouldn’t mind jumping back into from time to time, especially with its hook as a multiplayer party game. Thanks to its excellent art and emphasis on humor, Monster Prom is charming and quirky in all the right ways, and though generally speaking I wouldn’t want to revisit my high school years again, I wouldn’t mind spending some time trying to woo the monster of my dreams for the prom.
Monster Prom will release for PC, Mac, and Linux on April 27th, 2018.