Release Date: February 28, 2013
Developer(s): CODE Software
Platform(s): Android (Google Play Store)
Very Little Monsters is the first game released by the newly formed development studio CODE. Created using the Unity3D engine and released on the Android platform, it’s a simple little casual game with a lot of heart. While it lacks the visual polish of bigger and more expensive mobile titles, it still offers some high quality 3D models of its monster characters and a low price. More importantly, the gameplay is solid, challenging and will have you coming back for more. Very Little Monsters is a good example of how fun and addicting gameplay can help to make up for a game’s other faults.
The game, as the title suggests, is all about you taking control of cute little monsters that look like they came out of Will Wright’s Spore. They’re small and have no arms or legs, with giant eyeballs being their major defining characteristic. They also come in two flavors, blue monsters with one giant eye or red monsters with two smaller ones. Regardless of their color, these little creatures seem to have an obsession with diamonds. What these little fiends could possibly need them for is anyone’s guess, but either way it’s the main resource you’re always after during the game’s various levels.
Little Monsters offers a series of grid-based levels to choose from and each attempt to challenge you in slightly different ways. Although only around 20 ocean themed levels are currently available, other worlds like a forest and outer space will be arriving in the future. Each level has a rating system using the previously mentioned diamonds, with three being the maximum you can gain per level. This is a common feature in mobile titles, but I like it as it increases replayability by encouraging gamers to play more strategically. And you will definitely need some strategy, because the gameplay may look simple at first, yet it has some depth to it.
The gameplay in Little Monsters involves you facing off against either a computer or another player in the game’s two-player mode. You each start on one side of the stage and begin with one monster per player. The stage is setup in a grid formation and monsters can move in two different ways. If they move only one space at a time, they end up giving birth to a new monster where they were previously standing. This allows you to slowly build up your little army in order to survive longer against your opponent. On the other hand, if you decide to move your monster two spaces, then you don’t get an extra creature at all. You do, however, get closer to your enemy much more quickly.
The point of the game is to use your little creatures in order to essentially convert your opponent’s monsters to your side. This is done by simply moving to a space adjacent to them. For instance, if you move into an empty space surrounded by three enemy creatures, you will instantly convert all three into your own color. Your opponent can then counter that by jumping to another nearby spot and getting a few reinforcements back. The player who has the most little monsters once all moves have been exhausted will win the stage. Nonetheless, the longer you take to achieve victory the fewer diamonds you will receive for a particular level. As you play, you not only need to strategize and think of your next move, but also be quick about it.
This gameplay, which is like a combination of checkers and the Japanese board game Go, will keep gamers coming back for more. It provides a good challenge for anyone of any age and will keep them on their toes and constantly guessing. There are also two difficulty modes to choose from, Normal and Easy. If the game becomes a bit too hard for you, then you can at least tone things down in order to have a better chance at beating the formidable computer. It will also help with certain levels that are particularly hard. The only notable flaw with the gameplay is the actual levels themselves where the action takes place.
The levels in Very Little Monsters attempt to change up the gameplay slightly every time, yet they rarely do. Changing the grid to another shape or simply making it bigger just doesn’t do much most of the time and just feels visually artificial. There are a few levels, though, that change the rules a bit. One level has you fighting your opponent on three different little islands, and another changes the game’s rules and only allows you to move one space at a time. While these are interesting, they are few and far between and don’t make up for the fact that the majority of levels play out exactly the same. Hopefully future levels will add more interesting dynamics to how the game plays.
Finally, on a technical level Very Little Monsters is a bit of a mixed bag. The 3D visuals are pretty good, especially the models for the monsters. The little creatures have plenty of detail like scales and individual teeth, and they have a nice glossy look to them. The environments are kind of bland and flat though, and only offer a simple gradient backdrop with a few extra creatures and objects floating around. A little more work here would have been appreciated. On the audio side, the game doesn’t have any music at all which is kind of odd. The only thing to listen to are the sound effects of your tiny monster friends. They laugh, get excited, break wind and are overall pretty amusing to listen to.
Little Monsters won’t be competing with some of the big juggernauts that you can find on mobile devices these days, but it still deserves a try. While it doesn’t have a huge studio behind it, it does have two guys who created everything from scratch and that’s commendable. What it lacks in visual polish and presentation, it makes it for it in pure, strategic gameplay. It’s also pretty affordable at around a dollar and will easily give you a couple of hours of entertainment, with more content on the way. To wrap it up, Very Little Monsters is a charming little game that will definitely put up a challenge.
- High quality 3D character models
- Challenging and addictive gameplay
- Affordable price with a good amount of replayability
- Bland environments and presentation
- Little variety in level design
- No music whatsoever