A recent acquisition from the Steam Summer Sale, Always Sometimes Monsters, developed by Vagabond Dog, is a unique rpg that explores the morally grey areas usually overlooked in decision orientated games. Released earlier this year for Windows, it is an interesting but flawed game, that offers the player a rare perspective on who they are as a person.
The majority of the gameplay revolves around making decisions and dealing with the consequences, and while a lot of games claim that your decisions change the story, in the this game they outright shape it, and it is through your decisions that the ending is determined. There are also some areas to explore with your character, a handful of different, but equally monotonous, jobs to earn money, as well as a sort of figure collection side-quest, though it’s entirely optional and just for personal satisfaction.
The story is definitely this game’s strongest aspect, the premise is quite simple, you play a character who is trying to earn enough money to travel to the other side of the country to win back a former love. As mentioned previously this game is based around decisions and consequences, and for a lot of these decisions there is no right answer. It places you in a tough situation and then forces you to look at yourself as a person, and what matters to you. It’s a very interesting experience, even trying to play as a good person, I ultimately ended up making some horrible choices just so my character could survive. Another interesting aspect of the story was the ability to play as a character from almost any race, gender, and orientation, and how it changed the way other characters interacted with you, though I would of liked it if they’d explored this a little more, rather than it being almost a token gesture.
The sound is one of the main areas that let this game down, the soundtrack is decent, but the minimal use of sound effects and the sometimes bizarre track placements fail to make proper use of it. Emotionally loaded scenes were often accompanied by the same cheery background music used when exploring the towns. If they hadn’t had more appropriate music that they used in other points of the game, I would be more inclined to forgive this, but as it is, it just seems like a lack of care or quality control. Furthermore I experienced several instances where the music inexplicably stopped playing, a minor irritation but one that again suggests a lack of quality control.
Graphically this game is somewhat average for it’s type, it’s sprite based on a low budget, and while there are some nice areas in game, the overall majority seem to be very stock standard, almost what I’d expect from an amateur game. If I were to pick out one significant flaw in the graphics it would be their static nature, no character’s emotion is ever expressed with more than an a speech-bubble over their head, which can seem a little off situationally. I feel that the addition of some form of expression on the character sprites’ faces, or even a change of expression on the character portrait would improve my opinion of the game’s graphics quite significantly.
Overall, if it interests you at all, I would recommend getting this game, though I would also recommend waiting until it’s on sale. It’s a good game, fun, unique and certainly interesting, and while it is only about $10, it doesn’t feel worth that price. There are a fair few grammatical and spacing errors within the text, and the abundance of developer in jokes and badly placed humour only serve to alienate the player, as well as make the game feel unpolished and cheap.