Monster Camp Review

Published: Sunday, November 1, 2020 - 11:00 | By: Kate Mitchell Jewett
Release Date
October 13, 2020
Multiplayer modes
Co Op, Local, Online, Online Features
Platforms
PC
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
Steam
One Hell of a Hot Summer

What's more adorable and heartwarming than a summer romance? A summer romance where your partner is a real monster, of course! Experience the best parts of summer camp in style in this brand new game - all WITHOUT needing to slather on bug spray or check for ticks!

In 2018, "competitive dating sim" Monster Prom challenged players to win the heart of one of the hottest monsters in school in time for prom night. Now, the school year has ended and the four protagonists (Red, Yellow, Blue and Green) now find themselves spending their summer at Camp Spooky. With them are six potential love interests - returning favorites Damien and Calculester, former side characters Joy, Dahlia and Aaravi, and newcomer Milo. The players have only a few weeks to convince their beau of choice to accompany them to the end-of-summer meteor shower. Along the way, they'll have to brush up on their survival skills, defeat the hyper-competitive Camp Rival Camp, and chug a variety of suspicious cocktails. Summer is what you make of it, so use your time at Monster Camp wisely!

Developed by Beautiful Glitch, Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp is the first of several planned sequels to Monster Prom. It utilizes a similar gameplay style, in which players must raise their stats and make decisions in order to impress the love interest of their choice before the end of the game. Several returning characters make an appearance, while several new monsters join the cast. Similar to its predecessor, Monster Camp features snappy, witty dialogue, loads of pop culture references, plenty of secret endings to unlock, and, of course, the opportunity to ruthlessly tear down their opponents and keep them from obtaining a romantic happy ending.

Monster Camp Screenshot
I could almost hear "Last Surprise" playing in the background...Damien will NEVER SEE IT COMING

No Need to Fix What Ain't Broke

If the description of Monster Camp sounds rather similar to that of Monster Prom, that's because, well, it is. The new game reuses its predecessor's formula in a variety of aspects, from the mechanics of the game to the writing style to the multitude outrageous, typically innuendo-laden endings. I strongly respect and support this decision, as I loved Monster Prom and feel that another game using the same quirky style is simply more of a good thing without ever becoming too much of one. The developers recognized that they had something that worked, and they managed to successfully recreate so much of what made Monster Prom stand out within the rather overloaded "dating sim" genre.

What small changes have been made from the gameplay and style of the original Monster Prom are all for the better. I was extremely happy to see the removal of Money, which was an extremely frustrating resource to manage due to serving as both a stat and a currency. Instead of purchasing stat-boosting (or possibly -lowering) items at an in-game store, players instead have a chance once per week to receive random drinks from wizard-in-training Juan the Small Magical Latino Cat. Players can choose between two drink-dispensing mini-games - one luck-based and one skill-based -and the items they receive have a much wider variety of outcomes when compared to the previous game's store. While some drinks raise and lower your stats as expected, others will unlock plot events and secret routes, curse you, change the game's music, or even forcibly set your character name to "DUMPSTER FIRE". Drink responsibly!

In one route, which forces the player to confront their own impending death, Milo delivers a speech on the importance of savoring life and experiencing each day to the fullest which genuinely had me in tears

Another change which I very much appreciated was the streamlining of the game's opening or "setup" phase, which I found rather tedious in Monster Camp. Rather than having to answer a series of lengthy quiz questions, players receive random starting stats based on which three items they choose to bring with them to camp. Even a four-player game can be set up and ready to go in just a few minutes, allowing you to start romancing the monster of your choice with minimal wait time.

Finally, players' ability to sabotage one another in multiplayer mode was improved upon greatly. In the original game, sabotage chances and their results were entirely random. Monster Camp, on the other hand, allows players to actively choose to help or harm each other by choosing to spend time with the gossip-loving Mothman-inspired character, Moss Mann. I found the gossip mechanic to be one of my favorite parts of the entire game, as it is extremely interactive - players get to choose which insults or compliments to spread, and can create hilarious, far-fetched stories about what their competition has been up to. (Did you know that being accused of illegal gerbil breeding won't earn you the respect of your peers? Who could have guessed...)

Monster Camp Screenshot
I wish we got to see an actual sprite of this thing...

Monster Camp Has (Uncomfortably Realistic, Probably Bleeding) Heart

A dating sim is, at its heart, all about the characters. This is a truth which Beautiful Glitch clearly understood when making Monster Prom, and it is just as if not more evident in the sequel. While your interactions with each character are primarily focused around attempting to woo them, you will gain surprising insight into their hopes, dreams, goals, and possibly even fears as you progress towards a romantic conclusion. Humor is present in spades, but it is balanced with a real genuine character depth that sometimes felt lacking in Prom.

This was especially obvious with the returning characters. Damien the demon, who was known as the "angry guy who loves fire and violence" in the first game, has mellowed out and is pursuing other interests such as makeup and hair styling. (One of his paths even revolves around the issue, as he struggles to adapt to a world in which he is no longer considered threatening or a "badass"). Joy and Aaravi each get to explore their identities outside of the roles they feel forced into by the universe (heroic defender against evil and slayer of monsters, respectively) while Dahlia uses her intense love of training and rivalries to help others improve and Calculester finally seems to genuinely enjoy living among organic beings as he openly seeks out new experiences at camp.

Monster Camp Screenshot 4
Sing with with me...SON WHEN YOU GROW UP, WILL YOU BE THE SAVIOR...

By far, the character whose story surprised me the most was Milo, the nonbinary Grim Reaper who was introduced for the first time in this game. While on the surface they may seem like nothing more than a shallow parody of an Instagram influencer, it turns out that they have cultivated this personality due to a genuine wish to enjoy life, despite its too-fleeting nature and preserve memories of the things that are precious and enjoyable on Earth. In one route, which forces the player to confront their own impending death, Milo delivers a speech on the importance of savoring life and experiencing each day to the fullest which genuinely had me in tears.

The side characters do initially seem somewhat more one-dimensional - Morty the minotaur is a flirt, Moss is a gossip, Batniss is essentially Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games re-imagined as a tiny, adorable bat - but even they are given depth as you play through the game more times and uncover new events and scenarios. (Without giving away too many spoilers, Monster Camp does feature a number of secret date options beyond the primary six, often tied to unlocking certain drinks in Juan's menu.)

Any Flaws Are Smaller Than Juan

Monster Camp Screenshot 3
Live your best life, Jerry.

I was genuinely hard-pressed to come up with any flaws or cons to include in this review. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the game, from the dialogue to the drink and gossip mini-games to every single one of the romance options and NPCs (well, except Pappas the corrupt CEO, but I think he's MEANT to be hated). My only possible concern is that some fans may feel slightly alienated by the sheer amount of pop culture references and, as mentioned in an earlier preview, the game does feature a significant amount of blatantly sexual dialogue which may make some uncomfortable.

However, overall, Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp is an absolute triumph of a game that improves on Prom's model in practically every single way. It is a sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartwarming, beyond enjoyable romp which got me even more excited for the myriad of other sequels and spin-offs which the developers have planned for the future.


TechRaptor reviewed Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp on PC using a copy provided by the publisher.

Review Summary

9.5
Monster Camp is a delightful game which breathes life into the dating sim genre witha mix of over-the-top humor and poignant character development

Pros

  • Interesting, Fleshed-out Characters
  • Adorable Romance Arcs
  • Easy to Learn and Play

Cons

  • Pop Culture References May Alienate Some Players

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Kate is a lifelong writer, reader and gamer with a fondness for mysteries, open world exploration and farming / crafting sims. The "Kate" route in a TechRaptor dating sim would include couples' cosplay, trips to the library and lots of pumpkin spice coffee dates. Toss a like to your blogger?