Two things made me decide to check out Monster Prom's free "F*ckin’ Hot" update this morning, despite not normally having an interest in the dating sim genre. First, the monsters. Second, the multiplayer. It's a punchy set up: the prom is looming, and you and your friends have got three weeks to woo a 20-something college student. Who may well be a gorgon, or a psychopathic sky-princess.
How on earth does that work? What's in that new update, other than some summer outfits and the opportunity to help a demon punch the sun? Can I get away with leaving f-bombs in that headline, and can Beautiful Glitch's monsters melt my cold, non-dating sim-appreciating heart? The answers await below.
You can choose to play competitively if you like, but unless two people are given the same crush then there's no reason everyone can't be happy. Unless your crushes are sat next to each other in the dining hall, and you wind up making your friend's date fall for you by pointing out to your vampire crush that he can get some use out of his inedible human food by instagramming it.
I'll get back to dating anecdotes soon, but first I better tell you what's new - as shown on the update page and in this trailer:
And here's what's new as shown in this list of features from the press release:
- Seasonal Outfits - Monster Prom’s chic monster roster is all about those summer vibes. Consequently, the former outfits have been packed away for chiller times. Say hello to Hawaiian prints, sun hats and dresses and all those sweet, sweet sandals.
- A new secret ending - As a result of the Bae Ballot contest held earlier this month, crowd favorite demon boy Damien is getting a new secret ending, as promised. No spoilers but let’s just say it’s really going to bring the heat.
- New Cafeteria Map and Weekend Events Screens - The Cafeteria Map got a makeover, making it prettier and more inviting for all the monster mischief. The Weekend Events also got the eye-candy treatment, with bolder colors and more details added to the background.
- Photo Gallery - At the community’s request, this update will also mark the debut of the Monster Prom Photo Gallery – a place for collecting all those endings that played so hard to get, plus some nifty new surprises.
- Steam Trading Cards - Just when you thought this competitive dating sim couldn’t get any more competitive, the dev team is adding Steam Trading Cards! There are also background images, custom emoticons and other shiny trinkets for the community to crave impulsively.
Nothing in the update is particularly substantial, with the possible exception of Damien the demon's new quest to... punch the sun? I roped in a friend and started playing with a mind to explore that new plotline - not realising that the game picks your crush for you based on a daft quiz at the start. I also didn't pay enough attention to the word 'secret', meaning I had little chance of discovering and talking about the new stuff anyway.
I did get a feel for the game in general though, and I'm glad I took the time to. I think it'll shine with a full gang of four, but even with two of us the multiplayer element transforms an inconsistent rollercoaster of jokes into a game I'd happily recommend to anyone who's intrigued by the idea. Bear in mind that it won't work with strangers, though. There's online multiplayer, but it's set up to be played with people you know over voice coms.
As Alyse Stanley's review highlights, discerning how your actions will effect the behaviour of each character is a tall order. I didn't find that really mattered though, and was happy to be outright tricked when it came to making the most important decision of my whole relationship. Think very carefully before trying to take your date to a nightclub in the centre of the earth.
I've said it once, but it bears repeating: it is wildly inconsistent. The jokes swing from hilariously inventive to underwhelmingly juvenile, and some snippets try to lean on lazy references which me and my friend both found cringeworthy. Again though, that doesn't matter as much as you might think. I found at least some of the jokes landed in most of the vignettes, and a couple had me laughing out loud. I'm unlikely to forget that time my beloved vampire confessed the whole bat thing was getting a bit cliche, and so I encouraged him to transform into 'the general concept of unease'.
Monster Prom is currently 15% off on Steam, putting it at £8/$10/€10. It's an uneven romp, but I'd say the highs make it well worth the price of admission.