Monster Harvest is a farming sim with a slight twist. By day you farm the land as usual, and then by night you go exploring a dungeon and fight battles with your Planimals, plants that turned into animals. It honestly reminded me a bit of the two phased day-night game play in Persona 3 just a little bit.
The farming is pretty standard fare. You start out on a dilapidated farm filled with trees, rocks, and logs. I wouldn’t recommend clearing out the entire farm at the start as your stamina meter is pretty small. As you chop down trees and break apart rocks, you level up and learn new crafting recipes.
The game starts to deviate from the tried and true formula in the planting phase. You buy seeds and grow them as normal by watering them everyday. However, you can combine plants with slimes to turn them into Planimals. Red slimes will create Planimals you can fight with, and blue slimes will create livestock. The green slimes will accelerate plant growth.
The plants you don’t turn into Planimals can be sold as normal crop and they do net you a hefty sum of money so I would recommend planting and selling as much as you can at the start of the game to get your economy going. The game introduces more advanced mechanics later on where you can hybridize your plants and create new Planimals.
The dungeon phase is fairly simple. You can only access it during the night and if you have a Planimal with you. The dungeon is where you can mine metals such as iron, silver, and gold for crafting. You also run into enemy Planimals. The battle system is fairly simple. If you attack the Planimal first before going into the battle phase, you will receive an extra attack. Once the battle phase starts, the game is a turn based Pokemon esque system where you pick from one of three moves. At the start of the game you only have access to one move so the combat is very simple.
You do need to watch out for your Planimal’s health. If it dies, you lose that Planimal. The game did say you could take its remains and replant it but I haven’t used that mechanic yet so I’m not completely sure how it works.
Overall, Monster Harvest does manage to combine the dual aspects of farming and monster collecting into a solid package. The game play does seem a bit shallow though. The starting map is fairly small. You can, however, unlock new areas by earning enough money to clear the blocked paths. The character development seems to be a bit one dimensional as well. The reason why I love Harvest Moon games is that those games do a fantastic job of introducing small moments where you can get to know the villagers and they start to feel like they have a bit of depth as characters. So far, Monster Harvest was lacking those moments but I’ll chalk it up to me not having played the game enough. There’s still quite a bit of fun to be had with the game and it may scratch that itch for people looking for a new farming sim and/or monster collecting game to play.