I find it difficult to immerse myself in games lately. Maybe it’s my age (too old) or my schooling (game design program, one can’t ever look at games the same way again). At any rate, Always Sometimes Monsters really drew me in, and it’s one of those “barely a game” games! I’m totally serious. I sat there playing it for two days straight like some sort of ultimate basement dwelling Cheeto creature.
Anyway, about the game. It’s done in the classic (read: RPG Maker) RPG style, and it’s heavily story-driven, but these two elements work together nicely to produce an immersive choose-your-own adventure with multiple different characters to choose from. There are no actual monsters in the game. Instead, there are the figurative monsters that gritty adult people have to deal with. No matter which character you choose to play with, he or she will be faced with difficult moral quandaries. Needless to say, the game is chock-full of adult-y things like sex, drugs, and violence. Don’t give this to your ten year old to play (unless he or she is one of those really creepy mature and adult-like kids).
Aside from the captivating storyline, the best thing about Always Sometimes Monsters is that you are really in control of your character’s development. Do you want to be evil and poor? Great! How about a champion of justice? Done! You can choose to be a lesbian, a straight (I know that’s not a noun), or whatever. There are plenty of decisions to make, and lots of important feedback from those decisions, even if they seem insignificant. Instead of the stupidly standard moral questions that feed you into even more stupidly standard roles, you are given a plethora of interesting situations to deal with. You’ll probably become really attached to your character, and then end up feeling really depressed when you find out that you’re willing to sell your soul for a few bucks. The good thing is, when you completely “screw up” your first playthrough, you can start over and try to build a better person!
Oh, and there are also some minigames within the game. One had something to do with running people over on a bike while not running over frogs? I think it was fun. The “barely a game” parts of Always Sometimes Monsters were the best part, though.