Arts video game review

Mean ghouls

It’s the high school drama that you‘ve never expected in any of your nightmares

8595 torri yearwood   monster prom
Players are given a choice of 6 monsters to romance in 'Monster Prom', from the party-loving Polly Geist to the brainless yet endearing Scott Howl.
Courtesy of Beautiful Glitch

Monster Prom
Developed by Beautiful Glitch
Published by Those Awesome Guys
Released April 27

Senior year of high school was coming to a close. You were young and unafraid back then, ready to take on the world. There were three weeks before prom, and you looked anxiously for the perfect person to go out with. The last chance to end the school year with a bang was at prom, but you first needed a date. Nothing was going to stop you from asking out your crush. There is one thing though: you’re a monster. And so is everyone in the school.

Monster Prom, developed by Beautiful Glitch, takes you back to the most thrilling part of high school, spring of senior year. Playing as one of four monsters, you have to woo the ghoul of your dreams by the end of a three-week period. Through a multitude of random in-game events, you are presented with options that could potentially help or damage your chances with your crush.

Speaking of crushes, the level of creativity placed in the character design is phenomenal. Each of the six dateable monsters in the game is extremely memorable, making it even harder to choose just one to pursue. There are: Scott, the jock werewolf with a heart of gold; Miranda, the mermaid princess with plans to exploit her people; Vera, the gorgon with a strong sense of business acumen; Liam, the vampire with extremely refined tastes; Damien, the demon with teenage angst to spare; and Polly, the ghost with some very questionable life decisions. Why hang out with Damien in the bathrooms during class when you can perform with Polly in drama club? There are too many choices for any one person to make. And this is all just in the singleplayer mode.

The game deviates from the typical bishounen visual novel by having you compete with three other people in the room for the love and affection of your crush. You take turns increasing your one of six stats associated with your character. Afterwards, you are rewarded with a chance encounter with one of the dateable monsters for a chance to score some points. However, just as you can rack up love with one person, so too can your opponents. The other people in the room have the chance to boost their stats but also have the opportunity to sabotage your romance. On the weekends, one of the players has the option to either compliment or insult another player to their crush; the crush’s interests towards them actually change depending on what they choose. This makes for some intense competition between your couchmates as you scramble to romance your crush into a date before the other players can snatch them away first.

My only gripe with this system is the randomness of the events. Certain choices can only be executed when you have a high enough stat in its corresponding area. If you don’t, then it’s possible to lose some points in other character stats. Yet the game never explicitly says which stat you gain or lose. Instead, you have to eyeball the choices and hope that whatever you choose won’t negatively affect your chances with the character.

Additionally, you are forced to play through the game to earn many of its secret endings and events. While I’m all for playing the game a second time, the lack of transparency or hints on how to achieve certain events definitely dissuaded me from plunging into another hour long commitment.

However, the game makes up for it with exceedingly impressive dialogue design. No matter which character you’re going after, you’re always rewarded with conversations that lie just between problematic and innocently dark. The insane situation of a high school populated with monsters has created a game whose dialogue is self-aware and self-deprecating. My friend and I couldn’t stop from chuckling every few minutes from the jokes that were on screen.

By the end of the first route, I had managed to romance Scott into going to prom with me. Fellow arts editor Torri wasn’t so lucky, as they failed to spend an eternity with Polly. As the credits rolled, we let out a cackle worthy of being a part of the game. Monster Prom was truly a game that deserves the accolades that it received.