'Monster Harvest' Is an Interesting Disappointment

A neat idea held back by bugs and odd design decisions

Key Takeaways

  • Monster Harvest is a very clever concept wrapped in a game that doesn’t quite do it justice.
  • Being able to grow crops that are also animals is bizarre, but also a lot of fun.
  • A few odd design choices and a lot of small bugs work together to drag the whole game down.
Opening screenshot from 'Monster Harvest.'

I went into Monster Harvest on the Switch really wanting to like it, and part of me did for a little while, but all of its little shortcomings started to add up.

Combining elements from farming games with bits from games about battling monsters seemed like a precision shot to my interests. Especially since, in Monster Harvest, the crops you grow become the monsters you fight with.

It’s just that I’d been fighting against a lot of really minor issues the whole time, with each new problem building on top of all the others, to the point where, eventually, I realized that I wasn’t having fun anymore.

This isn’t to say I hated my time spent playing Monster Harvest or that it’s inherently a bad game. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not a great game—which it could be with just a bit more polish (and fewer bugs). Coming so close but falling flat in the end is almost more disappointing.

What It Does Right

In fairness to Monster Harvest, it does do several things right. It doesn’t take long to start farming or raising and battling monsters—called "Planimals" because they’re both plant and animal. You’ll usually run out of stamina for the day before you run out of things to do.

There’s a decently sized population of individual NPCs (non-player characters) in the nearby town. And you even get to start with a full assortment of tools.

Screenshot from 'Monster Harvest.'

You also get to grow your own livestock, which ties into the whole "your crops are also your animals" concept. All you have to do is plant something that’s in season, then drop one of three types of mutating slime on it and wait until it’s ready to be harvested.

One slime will turn a potato into a brawling root monster, while another will change the spud into an adorable potato-rabbit thing. It’s ridiculous, and I love it. I also love how more advanced slime can alter your crops even more drastically, which is how I ended up with a hot pepper horse for a mount.

Planimal battling is very basic, but I did learn to appreciate it. Sure, critters aren’t swimming with possibilities for evolution or special training, but they’re meant to be disposable. They are part produce, after all. This makes it a breeze to replace a lost Planimal or swap between them before a fight since you won’t have to memorize any stats or moves.

What I Wish It Did Right

Yet, for all the things I like about Monster Harvest, there are more problems. After playing for a while, I did come around to some of the design decisions, but others still baffle me. And I know no game is entirely free of bugs, but the ones I’ve encountered here have been entertainment vampires.

Why is there no straight shot through the town to the dungeon, where I have to go to level up my Planimals and find precious materials? Why is there a system for giving townspeople gifts to boost friendship, but no way to track progress in any of the menus?

Screenshot from 'Monster Harvest.'

Why does it cost stamina when I use a tool and miss my target? Why doesn’t the world pause when I’m in the menu rearranging my Planimals (which is the only way to do it because you can’t switch out in combat)?

Finally, there are the bugs, which are what drove the final nail into the coffin housing my enthusiasm. Sometimes my mount randomly appears in places it shouldn’t, and sometimes it disappears entirely.

I couldn’t talk to the town doctor for some reason until I restarted my game. Sometimes I can jump over the fence on my farm, and sometimes I can’t. All of my hybrid seeds stopped growing, despite being in season.

I’ve had normal attacks miss four times in a row even though my Planimal was several levels above what I was fighting. The load time going into a new day has been steadily getting longer the more I play.

Each of these things taken on their own are a little annoying but not a big deal. However, taken together, they all drag down a game I desperately wanted to fall in love with. At this point, all I can do is hope that some of the bugs get fixed, and maybe some of the odd design decisions get adjusted. Then, hopefully, Monster Harvest can start to realize the potential I know it has.

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