Progress: Unsatisfactory

HIGH The art is cute!

LOW Everything feels too weightless and random.

WTF Most of the questions.

At first glance, Monster Prom XXL looks like a visual novel with dating sim elements (or perhaps a dating sim with visual novel elements?) but after spending time with it in both solo and multi, it seems like maybe it’s a party game? I gotta be honest, I’m not quite sure what it is.

The player begins by choosing a character from four semi-human options (two male and two female, the differences are cosmetic) and answers a few questions that are more outlandish than might be found in a Cosmo quiz — queries like “what kind of wild animal would you have sex with?’ or “what would your stripper name be?” The answers award points in categories like Smarts, Boldness, Charm and more, but it’s a surprise which answers give which kind of points.

Once done with Q&A, players find themselves on a map-style representation of a monster-teen high school with six different locations to visit, and only one can be selected per round. After picking between Class, Auditorium, Gym and more, they get a tiny snippet of situation setup and a choice that will either boost or take away from one or more stats. But, like the initial questioning, it’s never clear which stat(s) will be affected, nor what effect any answer will have.

At the end of the game (roughly 30 mins for a short session, 60 for a full run in singleplayer) the chance to ask a chosen demi-human to the prom presents itself. If the player’s earned enough of the kind of points their desired monster likes, they’ll agree to go. If not, they’ll turn the player down cold and have a laugh about it. Roll credits. If this process sounds mechanical and straightforward… that’s because it is.

I’ve played a fair number of visual novels and dating sims, and they all at least try to offer a process for getting to know someone or figuring out who might be the best match. There’s an attempt at romance, or at the very least, sexual interest. Monster Prom XXL eschews all that and instead goes for something that comes off like coldly aloof speed-dating, which is what lends it an air of being something meant for groups of people — perhaps crowd reactions might help jazz things up?

With this in mind, I recruited my wife to join me in a session. Monster Prom XXL promotes a multiplayer mode (up to four) so I was guessing that the special sauce it was missing might be found with at least one friend and probably a few beers, but… again, no.  

When playing with partners it’s the same experience, except that between rounds MPXXL asks extra questions meant to generate debate between players in real life – for example, every person speaks a random item aloud, and then the group debates which one would make the “sexiest” adult toy. The winner of a debate (selected by the people on the couch, the game has no input) then gets to go first when choosing a location in the next round. I guess the idea is that one might want to win a debate in order to get their pick of the locations, but since it all feels so random and haphazard, we just skipped the debating altogether.

Whether alone or with a friend, I struggled to find a connection to anyone or anything in Monster Prom XXL, and without a connection I also struggled to care. I wasn’t invested in the prom as a goal because I had no reason to want to go, and I couldn’t recall anything about the characters except the bare minimum – snake-hair girl likes cash, ghost girl likes to get high, and werewolf guy… is a werewolf. Even playing for the sake of playing held no appeal since there’s no skill involved when everyone is just taking a guess and the results are wildly unpredictable.

Apart from the issues of the overall design, the writing was also problematic. While there are a few humorous moments here and there, the majority of the script comes off as aggressively random and try-hard thanks to an inappropriate amount of swearing and off-color statements that are reminiscent of a young teen trying to gross their friends out with increasingly-outlandish statements involving someone’s grandma and cocaine.  

After several runs through, I found Monster Prom XXL to be a strange, unfulfilling, and confusing experience. Without being attached to the content or the mechanics, there was no draw to keep playing — it’s just a series of weightless and weird WTF moments that ends in a big ‘so what?

In a way, the shallow nature of play, the points system and the short run time make me think Monster Prom XXL would be better suited as a hyper-casual board game brought out on a Friday night, but in its current incarnation, this finned, furry student falls far short of a passing grade.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Beautiful Glitch and published by Those Awesome Guys. It is currently available on Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 2.5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed multiple times1 hour of play was spent in multiplayer mode.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Drug Reference, Sexual Themes and Strong Language. This is 100% not for the kids thanks to tons of excessive swearing, tons of sexually-oriented language and a lot of generally off-color stuff. Grown-ups and older teens only!

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played the entire game on mute and had no issues. Text is not resizable or able to be altered, but the size is easily readable and there are no audio cues needed for gameplay. It’s fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. Controls are fairly simple — the left stick or d-pad selects options, the A button confirms and the B button cancels.

Brad Gallaway
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