Going into MonsterBag cold (not knowing what I was in for) meant that when I saw this adorable little monster, and the little girl he spends the game trying to return to, I was completely caught off guard when people started getting offed in hilarious ways. Consequently, MonsterBag succeeded in making me chuckle quite a few times within the first half-hour of its simple puzzle-based gameplay.
Each level of MonsterBag is brimming with colour, appearing to ape the look of some modern children’s cartoons with its vibrancy.The objective of each stage is for the titular creature (named V) to move between a line of people without being seen in the hopes of catching up to a little girl who it lives with. To do this you must avoid the gaze of each individual and manipulate them and the environment with the touchscreen; be it opening doors, picking up a piece of fruit or stealing a cup of lemonade. The execution is simple, but the challenge is in figuring out the various small puzzles that will let you advance. Some are timing-based and require you to slip past certain characters who actively look for V at just the right moment while others are logic-based. In fairness, these aren’t majorly taxing either way, but they do require at least some thought and reaction speed.
Unfortunately for some people that means thinking in an coldly logical manner and if you cannot do so then I can say with confidence that MonsterBag will not be for you. Any hints are extremely minimal, leaving you to figure out the solution by yourself. That’s the best thing for MonsterBag -even if it does lead to some frustrating games of chance that rely more on luck than brains- as anything more would swiftly render the game easy and quick to complete.
MonsterBag is still short anyway, the lack of hand-holding and occasional difficulty spikes still don’t add much extra filling to this sandwich and regrettably there is no hearty second bite to it either as replay value is limited to your efforts to get through each level totally unseen.This, coupled with a second half that retreads much of the same ground of the first, means that for all the wonderfully dark and daft moments, MonsterBag won’t likely be remembered for what it did as a game even if it does nothing fundamentally wrong in that department .
As previously mentioned there is a dark heart beneath the poster-painted world on screen, a heart that revels in V and the other characters meeting their demise in a variety of darkly comic situations. This is where MonsterBag excels. Telling a darkly funny little tale with over-exaggerated actions rather than lengthy text boxes or voice acting works in its favour and adds buckets of charm to wash over the ultimately brief moments it will occupy your time. Credit where it’s due, I’m not sure many relatively small developers could achieve such a funny, well-told narrative without using actual words in the way Chilean devs IguanaBee do here.
The biggest thing currently going in the game’s favour is that it’s in PlayStation Plus’ Instant Games Collection (at the time of writing) and with that in mind I’d highly recommend downloading it to your Vita and giving it a go because MonsterBag’s eccentric ways are worth investigating. As for when it’s no longer in the service, if the price-point hits that sweet spot of under five bucks then go for it. Above that price seems just a tad steep for what you get.
I’m intrigued to see what IguanaBee do next as the developer has laid solid foundations for future projects with the impressive show of storytelling and eccentricity on show in MonsterBag. Here’s hoping the amount of game on offer matches the creativity next time out.