Monstrum 2, unlike its predecessor, is an asymmetric, multiplayer survival horror, which entered early access in January 2021. Anyone familiar with the genre may think of games like Dead by Daylight, Deceit and Damned; Monstrum 2 seems very similar—in concept. Four prisoners are trying to escape from a sea fort while being hunted by a human-controlled monster. However, its implementation differs. For starters, everyone’s view is first-person and each game has a timer; counting down… Adding pressure to escape quickly.
Turning on randomly spawned power switches is the first step to escape. Some may require a fuse before it’ll operate, or maybe a blow torch is needed to break the lock open. Once turned on the power station opens, where the generators need starting in the correct order. Finally, before getting to the escape vehicle it needs to be made ready. This could be as simple as moving it into position, or as complex as refuelling, disabling security locks and moving cranes out of the way. Each segment offers different puzzles; these scale depending on the number of players, which is a nice variety. Tasks are generally well indicated too, either on-screen or by following power cables.
While there is this variety some puzzles may cause frustration to new players (although there is a tutorial it doesn’t explain all items). Being unable to find the right keycode to open a door, because it’s hidden somewhere obscure, or being unable to find an elusive key card gets very disheartening and stressful knowing the monster is still on the hunt. Maybe it was just me. Other people were seemingly able to find these items—while I ran around scratching my head.
The game offers some neat features adding to the enjoyment, while other games use similar mechanics, Monterum 2 adds a twist. Take lockers for example. Usually diving in one and being seen means game over, but not here. If a monster searches a prisoner filled locker an option pops up—dodge left or right. Picking a different direction to them means the prisoner escapes! Some items also help evade the monster. A camera’s flash will blind them briefly, and fire extinguishers fill part of the map with a mist to help avoid detection. Having these available makes the player feel like they have a chance against the powerful monster.
Route selection is vital for both prisoners and the monster. Only one type of monster can get through small gaps, or climb on the walls; another can phase through some. Understanding this allows different play styles. There are obstacles such as security cameras, which set off alarms when a prisoner lingers too long in their light and security arches that bellow out sirens if anything passes through them—illuminating across the map—drawing attention. The sound design is great! It adds to the atmosphere; screeches made by the monsters can strike fear into even the bravest and being chased triggers drum-heavy tribalistic sounding music.
Monstrum 2 isn’t perfect though. While maps and tasks change, every game feels similar ability-wise without a perk system. There are three different monsters though, each has four active abilities and one passive, making them feel different to play and play against.
Apart from this, there isn’t variety. After seeing the monster there’s no longer an air of mystery on their specific play, something Dead by Daylight did well. While this isn’t needed, adding more variety would change each game more. That is assuming one can be started…
There’s an issue with player numbers. Unlike the first game, which was a single-player horror, Monstrum 2 needs a player base to survive. At the time of review. This. Is. Severally. Lacking. Wait times vary dramatically; some filled up quickly; other times I had to wait 10 minutes to find someone else. The inability to queue with friend’s further compounds this issue (implementing this is on their roadmap). Although as there is such a small player base it’s highly likely searching for a game will place both together. At least due to scaling tasks even a 1v1 will allow a game to start.
Some gameplay elements need polish too. While playing the monster it’s not always clear if a prisoner has been hit as nothing gives the player confirmation–unless they die. Sometimes while trying to activate generators, even if the order is correct, they don’t activate and parts of the UI don’t quite sit right; when entering a locker, instead of an animation showing the player jumping inside there’s an on-screen gauge that fills up.
Despite these mechanical issues Monstrum 2 is still fun and there’s plenty of time to fix these during early access if the player base sticks with it. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s sad as Monstrum 2 has potential. Releasing into early access may help it get some quick cash, but the lack of some features will most likely turn people off, meaning it could become stuck in early access limbo. Ultimately, this makes Monstrum 2 hard to recommend…
Should you play it? Sadly, no
Why? It’s a fun game when you get your head around it, offering some variety on each go.
But… it’s lacking a solid player base right now, and is still to implement a friends feature.
Reviewed on Steam. Code supplied by Junkfish via Evolve PR
Developer: Team Junkfish Publisher: Junkfish Limited Playable On: PC, Steam (reviewed) Released (early access): 28th January 2021 Cost: £11.39