Almost a year after Monster Hunter Stories launched in Japan we’re finally set to get our hands on it in Europe in a few weeks’ time (8 September to be exact). I got to spend some time with Stories at Hyper Japan Festival 2017 and it charmed the pants of me (not literally).
First up, I just want to say that I’ve never played a Monster Hunter game before but know plenty about the series and this game seems really unique. For starters, you don’t actually play as a hunter in Stories – you play as a Rider and this opens a whole new world of possibilities from the get go. You can hatch eggs and tame the monsters you hatch to help you in battle. Perhaps even more unusually, the battle in the game is turn based. It felt so Pokemon-esque (but with swords) that I was literally swooning over the game.
I started in a small town where I got a chance to pick up quests from NPCs. All very nice and all but I wanted to kill some monsters so I headed out of there pretty quickly in search of some fighting. I found it pretty quickly. After riding (yes, riding) my dinosaur looking monster into the open world I could see some other monsters in the overworld. I ran right up to them wondering how I take my sword out and I immediately entered into a turn based battle which was both surprising and delightful. I didn’t get deep into the battle system in the time I had but your attacks can be either Speed, Technical or Power and they appear to work on a rock paper scissors mechanic – each one can be beaten by another. You can also build a meter to perform cool combo moves with any friendly monsters you may have in your team.
I managed to find a monster den and take on what was the equivalent of a boss monster called an Arzuros which was also really good fun. Granted, I didn’t beat it (it was tough!) but I got the impression that I would have been rewarded with something cool if I had. Perhaps I could have befriended the monster or stolen an egg to raise my own? Who knows.
The game was also really pretty for a 3DS game. The open world is full of bright shades of blue and green and it really feels alive with monsters just roaming free. I feel obliged to say that I did have a few slight frame rate dips when playing but that’s unsurprising given how much the 3DS had to handle on screen at any one time.
To be honest I didn’t expect much from my time with Monster Hunter Stories but I really enjoyed the time I spent with it. So much so that I’ve added it to my list of games I want to play. Pre-order here I come.
Monster Hunter Stories releases September 8 2017 in Europe.