A fighting game with a cast entirely composed of horror icons has always been my dream game. While the copyright stars need to align for there to possibly be a more modern horror smash-up, many of the old standbys such as Dracula, the Wolfman, and the Phantom of the Opera are all public domain. Really, it was only a matter of time before somebody ended up making this idea a reality, and I was genuinely excited for a game like Clash of the Monsters to come to fruition one of the days.
The result of my wish is something so twisted that even the most dastardly of Djinns would've been terrified.
Clash of the Monsters is an Early Access game in everything but name. The developers have actually stated multiple times that it's still in beta, and it is very clearly at an early state, but it lacks that blissful warning on its store page at the time of writing. This should probably be changed, because the amount of content on display here is laughably small.
Currently, Clash of the Monsters features eight characters - including the Invisible Man (Who is literally invisible, making him one of the worst fighting game characters I've ever come across), the Headless Horseman (If he looked like the guy from the Pumpkin Dance) , an original character named Bones that is literally just a generic skeleton, and 'The Living Dead', who the game's store page proudly claims is a character from the 1968 George Romero film Night of the Living Dead.
Sadly, they don't really do much with these iconic characters. For some reason, you'll be seeing the Phantom of the Opera shooting mask-shaped hadokens, or the Headless Horseman using basically anything but his axe. In fact, all of the characters play shockingly similar, and I couldn't discern any meaningful differences between Nosferatu and Ichabod Crane besides the fact that the lord of vampires just looked really, really high.
The controls don't help either, being unbelievably clunky and obtuse. Even selecting a character was a struggle, the roster spinning out of control with the slightest tap of the stick. It was so bad, that I didn't realize that the Phantom isn't actually playable yet, because I just assumed the fact that selecting him would make the select bounce around was the selection's fault. It was terrible, but the second the actual fighting started, I began to miss that character select screen quite a bit.
While I may not be the best at fighting games, I consider myself fairly decent, and can hold my own in Capcom classics. Here? I felt lucky just to win a round. It wasn't because the AI was very hard either, rather, it was because every attack is slow, weightless, and hard to chain into a followup of any sort. Except for when the AI used the moves, usually getting a punch and a kick in before dealing a stupid amount of damage with a throw. So maybe the fighting is horrible. Or maybe I'm just a scrub. Who knows.
The fact of the matter is that Clash of the Monsters is a mess. This game feels too early to be released to the mass market, and Early Access doesn't necessarily mean you should upload your first playable build. The main menu feels like a placeholder, the pause button turns the game into a slide show when closed, and the only stage available is a cartoonish swamp that we're supposed to believe is Sleepy Hollow.
The developers claim Clash of the Monsters has more content on the way, and despite everything, I'm actually excited. Not because I believe it will be any good, I'm just excited for Frankenstein's Monster to inevitably be throwing baffling fireballs at the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Clash of the Monsters is a free to play game on Steam downloaded by the previewer.