For a game in which you weld body parts together to create unholy creatures, Monster Lab does a lot of clever grafting of its own, taking elements of RPGs and fighting games, and mashing them into an enjoyable, accessible pulp. As a budding mad scientist, you assemble monsters from ingredients acquired through discovery or reward, before using them to kick the living snot out of enemies via turn-based battling.
There’s little exploration in the game and practically no freedom of movement – the castle hub in which you build and edit monsters is entirely menu-based, while the other locations are structured more like a board game, moving from node to node.
At least battling is fun, and actually deeper than in a lot of RPGs. Each of your abilities targets a different enemy limb or section; destroy their torso, or break everything off it, to succeed. Parts are categorized as mechanical, biological or alchemical, each offering different strengths and weaknesses. If only the rest of the game was as deep as its battle system. With a proper leveling system and full character control, Monster Lab would be great fun. It’s still worth a look though, if only for the joy of stitching a robot head onto a zombie torso.
Jan 22, 2009