Beasties Monster Trainer Puzzle RPG – A Bejewelled Pokémon?

What if... Pokémon and Bejewelled had a baby? What if indeed, but Beasties is probably - probably - the closest thing to it. Available on Steam.

Beasties? Well, they certainly aren’t besties. This Pokémon wannabe pushed my buttons. I could care less about the franchise, but games like Nexomon Extinction bent my arm and won me over. Could this game from rokaplay do the same?

Before we begin, here are some key points to consider before buying Beasties, full name Beasties Monster Trainer Puzzle RPG:

  • It’s a solo game, so you can’t play with your friends (your make-believe ones).
  • The monsters don’t evolve.
  • If you’re an elitist gamer, you might be dissuaded by the mobile-like graphics, but they’re pretty, pretty good.
  • Despite the cuteness and ‘casual’ ingredients on the label, it’s not very welcoming at the start and may put off some with the lack of easing into the action.
  • Once in full swing, it can be completed in one sitting.

Beasties Review (Steam)

Beasties Review Steam - Gem-a-licious
Gem-a-licious. Source: Steam

The problem with this game was initially me, and I was ready to abandon it. It’s a simple premise: you’re a monster trainer who has to collect all of them (note that we aren’t using that strapline), improving relations with the locals by running errands.

From a bird’s eye perspective, you’ll see this rather vibrant world that looks like it could be from any RPG, only the characters aren’t conventionally animated but have a board piece (ok, contradiction – animated) in its place. Visually, it’s all in 2D, and though it was a bit generic at first, it grew on me.

Turn-A-Round

After some introductions, you enter the wild and encounter your first B encounter. The ‘B’ being the initial for Beasties. As expected, Beasties is a turn-based game, but instead of a battleground full of magic and steel, the fights take place through a Bejewelled-like screen. The aim is to match up three or more of the same symbols, which in turn knock off the health and defence of your enemies.

I know how to play Bejewelled – I don’t need instructions. Well, I did. I couldn’t win a single fight – including the tutorial, despite matching up row after row. In short, you have to get these stone-like symbols to damage the opponent, and depending on your monster’s element, get the one that matches theirs for a special. Once I got this, the game got better.

But only for a while.

Within a few battles or so, I was losing again, and after death (it probably makes sense to buy food from the vendors…), you return to the village and hop back into gear. Slowly. Beasties is like an old-school RPG: your success is like the roll of a dice. It was so consistently in favour of the AI that having to respawn was too much. Sure, you can level up your monsters through the numerous drops (a bit of a grind, to be fair), but there wasn’t enough incentive to do that. The stat increases do make a difference to gameplay, but this isn’t the game I want to grind in.

There’s Gonna Be A Party!

Of course, get a little further into Beasties, and you’ll expand your party to four, and with the improved stats, fly through gameplay like you wouldn’t believe. It’s quite a short game – especially the actual battles, so perhaps the misunderstandings depicted in the tutorial added to the longevity.

I received a review code for the game after the release date and have since seen the reviews on Steam. There’s a consensus on the lack of tutorials, lovely art style, and that the game is too short. Perhaps the minority, I felt the difficulty at the start was off, especially as a casual game. Once you get past the first hurdle or two, it’s much easier, but it could have done with some stabilisers for new players/those who don’t have the time (or patience) to get into something of epic proportions. 

If it weren’t for this being a review, I’d probably have ditched it after the first hour through frustration. Not one I can recommend, but seek out other opinions and make up your mind. You have a week.