Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review
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Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a role-playing game (rpg) developed by Capcom and Marvelous for the Nintendo Switch and PC. The game is the sequel to the original Monster Hunter Stories that was first released on Nintendo 3DS and later rereleased for Android and iOS. Unlike its big boy brother on other consoles (Monster Hunter), this game is more of a traditional Japanese RPG (JRPG) with a familiar combat system to those that have played other JRPGs. This is my first time playing any type of Monster Hunter game and it’s a pleasant welcome to the Monster Hunter universe overall. If you own a Switch, this is definitely a game to check out since it’s a near perfect match for the console.
From what I’ve seen of the first game, if you’ve played it, you’ll be right at home with this sequel. From the start, you choose your rider (either male or female) and customize the way that rider will look from a decent amount of customization choices. The game opens with a very quality cutscene that leads you to taking control of your rider in a small village. As you are taught the ways of a rider and gain your own monster to train, you will eventually leave the village and learn about the Rathalos egg that is entrusted to your rider. The Ratholos egg is said to bring ruin to the world in time.
For the most part, the overall combat system to the game boils down to a game of paper-rock-scissors. All physical attacks are either Power attacks, Technical attacks, or Speed attacks. Power beats Technical, Technical beats Speed, and Speed beats Power. Enemies in the game all use a certain type of attack and sometimes switch up their attacks to another type. Having the winning combination in an attack sequence where both attacks clash will net you more damage than your opponent – it’s not a full counter.
If you’re a fan of Pokemon, Monster Rancher or any other game that involves monster raising, you’ll most likely find something to like in this game immediately. Throughout the game, you’ll be able to gain new monsters, called “Monsties”, that are basically your pets and a member of your party. To gain monsties, you walk into a nest and steal a monster’s egg then raise it as your own. Once hatched the monstie can be a member of your party and you’ll help it to gain experience along the way. You can have around 6 monsties in your party at once, but, during battle sequences, you will only have one of them out on the playing field. You can switch to other monsties during battle however. The game also allows you to switch weapons during battle since you might need a specific weapon type to damage an enemy or a certain elemental weapon to weaken the enemy.
Switching between monsties is vital to the gameplay since each monstie has its own method of attack (Power, Technical or Speed) so you’ll need to switch out a monstie that will always lose a trade. Attacks can sometimes be combined to take off way more damage and there is also a “Ride” and some special attacks that can be performed once your power is built up enough. This game has some very flashy attacks similar to Final Fantasy summon spells at times.
Each monstie has its own special ability while out on the world map as well. Some monsties can be used to hop over gaps, some can be used to scare and stun enemies, some can swim, some can climb vines and there are many other abilities depending on the type of monstie you have active. You’ll also gain a partner character with their own monstie as the story progresses. One bad part about having too many party members is that so much of the battles will start to feel like they are out of your hands for a good bit of the time. You choose the way your character will attack come your turn and then your monstie will attack with its own attack. If you have a partner character, that character will attack however its AI wants to and so will its monstie. The fights are still a blast to play through, but it feels like so much of the battle system is out of your control at times, mainly when you have a partner character with you.
The visuals to this game are really good. It reminds me of a cross between Grandia and Dragon Quest. During dialogue sequences, faces with an expression will appear and change depending on what is said, similar to Grandia. The game has a cel-shaded anime look similar to Dragon Quest. The combat look is your standard jrpg turn-based style of gameplay. The only real flaw with the graphics is the slowdown that takes place in certain villages at times. It’s easy to tell that the game is on an underpowered system when it gets choppy while moving along in a thriving village.
The soundtrack to the game is very fitting and so are the character voices. Navirou returns from the first game once again. Navirou is a cat creature that serves as the party cheerleader. Along with all the other characters, he is full of personality. The overall story kept me involved throughout the game. It’s got just enough story to keep a player engaged and not feel overwhelmed with endless dialogue. In-game dialogue is good and the cutscenes are fantastic.
The game looks good whether on the big screen or handheld. With most games, I feel they look better one way or the other but with this game, it looks just as good either way. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is definitely a game that every Switch owner should check out if you like JRPGs. Besides some slight performance issues, the game fits the Nintendo Switch in almost every way.
+ Many different varieties of Monsties to find
+ Pretty good combat “paper, rock, scissors” system
+ Interesting story and characters
+ Great visuals, especially for an underpowered console
- Some slowdown while exploring
- Battles can feel like they are out of your control at times (too many AI turns)
Final Rating: 80% - Monster Hunter Stories 2 combines many different aspects to make it a really good RPG for the Switch.
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.