I liked Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. While it definitely had a bit too much backtracking and it felt too short in general, I still felt it was a solid game with absolutely beautiful visuals. Knowing all this, I did some research into the developers of the game, DreamRift. I found that they only worked on one other game, known as Monster Tale. After hunting the game down and playing it myself, I found out that the game has much more than just the developer in common with Power of Illusion.
Monster Tale tells the story of Ellie, a little girl who one day somehow finds herself transported to the Monster World. While there, she meets and befriends a small monster which she names Chomp. She also finds out that she’s not the first human to enter Monster World. There have been other children and, due to some convoluted circumstances, those children are now the tyrannical rulers of the realm. Now it’s up to Ellie and Chomp to give the power back to the natural inhabitants of Monster World.
The graphics for this game are simply gorgeous. The backgrounds for each area felt very thematic and were just a treat to look at. The sprites and character designs were also very good too. This game is definitely meant to be more cartoony than anything else. The gameplay also felt solid. Each punch and laser blast simply felt good. I also liked the mechanic that Ellie and Chomp are both constantly learning new moves to the end of the game. Each progressive move does feel more powerful and useful outside of solving puzzles. This game would be perfect if it weren’t for the backtracking and difficulty curve.
The backtracking in this game is some of the worst I’ve ever seen. The following scenario happens more times than I can count in the game: You get to a new area, explore it, find a door you can only open with a certain ability, be forced to go back to a previous area to get that ability (which you couldn’t get before for whatever reason), actually GET that ability and practice it a few times, then trek ALL the way back to where you were before just to open the door and probably be greeted not far down the line with ANOTHER door and have to repeat the process ALL OVER AGAIN. This is just a constant thing that happens in the game. It makes the game feel frustrating, boring, and more than a little repetitive. I beat the game in about 7 to 8 hours total. Without the backtracking, this game would be about 3 to 4 hours max.
The difficulty curve is very steep. The boss fights, once you finally get to them, take a good long while to figure out and beat. I died multiple times with each boss aside from the first one of the game. It only gets tougher through the game, which sounds natural, but it does get to pure rage inducing levels of hard. I thought I was leveled up with my characters generally well, but maybe I just didn’t level up enough (which seems to be my constant curse in games nowadays).
Despite all that, I still thought this was a decent game. The gameplay (including all the cool moves you and your monster buddy get to do) just felt “right” and it was very pretty to look at. The backtracking is a very big issue, though, as is the difficulty curve. Still, if you like platformers in the vein of Mega Man (which this did feel like for me), I do recommend it. It has a pretty nasty bite but this monster is worth having by your side.