Maple Powered Games’ Monster Harvest is hoping to take two popular gaming genres and meld them into one unique experience. On one hand, you’ve got the laid-back farming style of Stardew Valley. On the other hand, you’ve got the monster-training turn-based combat formula that Pokemon has thrived on for over two decades. I had the opportunity to play through the opening hours of Monster Harvest to see this wacky experiment on display.
Through the valley
During my preview, I got to play the first 10 in-game days of Monster Harvest. The game opens with the player inheriting a farm once run by a deceased family member, once again nodding to Stardew Valley. From here, players can use tools to chop trees, destroy rocks, and make some room on their farm. They can then plant and water crops, which can be sold to earn money.
The farming aspect of Monster Harvest is really chill and calming, successfully hitting the notes that makes the farming so enjoyable. There’s a wide assortment of plants for players to collect and grow, many of which can be purchased in the town. The lifestyle features don’t stop there. Monster Harvest also allows players to craft furniture and customize their home to their liking.
There’s also an array of tools that players can create in order to ease their farming experience. This includes sprinklers, which will automatically water plants, as well as irrigation pipes. These will also help players reserve energy, as it's needed in order to perform actions throughout the day.
While you can sell fully grown crops in order to rake in some cash, you can also mutate them and turn them into creatures called Planimals, ready to battle at your side. This is done with special slimes that are combined with plants in order to mutate them into Planimals. The slime and crop used in the mutation will determine what Planimal is created.
What’s really interesting is that the game’s three unique seasons will also impact what kind of mutations can be executed. There are 72 unique Planimals in Monster Harvest. Although you’re fairly safe on the farm, Planimals can be taken into dungeons in order to battle against adversaries.
Combat in Monster Harvest is turn-based, and each Planimal has its own moves and abilities that will affect battles. Battling and earning experience will level up your Planimals, making them more powerful. Planimals are loyal to the player, and are key in their quest to defeat SlimeCo, an evil corporation on Planimal Point.
Monster Harvest is shaping up to be a fun experiment of mashing two beloved genres together. The wide variety of crops (and consequently, Planimals) available will hopefully keep the experience fresh and unique for every player. The ability to mix and match slimes with crops in order to mutate planimals is a neat mechanic that will really intrigue players, especially if expanded upon in the future.
These impressions are based on an early build of Monster Harvest provided by the publisher. Monster Harvest releases on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch on August 19, 2021.