Our friends at NIS America are back with another suspiciously cute game! The great character designs are given but what else lies behind the cuteness of Monster Menu: Scavenger’s Cookbook? NIS America kindly gifted us a review copy for the PS5; let’s check it out.
Monster Menu: Scavenger’s Cookbook begins on the premise of an adventurer’s journey into what is deemed as a ‘Rookie Dungeon’ to test one’s strength as an adventurer; however, you find yourself lost and after three days on the verge of starvation and dehydration. But all is not lost. The player stumbles across a monster’s corpse. The corpse may be rotting and inedible, but food is food when you’re close to starvation, right? After passing out, the players find themselves in an abandoned camp, being granted another day to live and find a way out of the dungeon. This is the start of the adventurer’s grand journey of survival and hopefully, escape.
As a dungeon crawler, I will admit there is a lot to take in initially. The tutorials are helpful, but there is a lot of information. I feel what makes Monster Menu different to me is how it’s played. One of my favorite aspects about this game is that you can create your character! The customization had decent options which I was pleasantly surprised and reminded me about the other games where you can customize their hair, clothes, skin tone, voice, etc.
Right away you can tell that the story is super basic and straight to the point. You’re lost and on the verge of perishing from dehydration and starvation. You need not just to die, right? You need to survive and escape from this dungeon. If you think that’s all to it, you’re wrong. This is a NIS game, be ready for plot twists, chaos, and destruction!
Though I am not one for dungeon crawlers, I still gave Monster Menu a good try. I was pleasantly surprised at the third-person view while exploring and in battle. True to its name, you are in a dungeon and there are multiple floors that you will go through. Some of the floors have little to no enemies, and some floors are loaded with beasts. Each level or floor has stairs that you’re looking for to move on to the next level. Just to note, it looks like you’re going down instead of up; just something I noticed.
Additionally, during each floor, you can take a rest which will take you back to camp to rest, cook, eat, repair, save, etc. As you explore, players will notice that day changes into night, which also means the enemies are more aggravated and feral. Depending on your play style, you could opt in and explore the dungeon at night, or play it safe and explore through the day. I took the safe route. One of the best features I noticed before even exploring is you can see all the enemies on the field via the map, so if you’re running low on health, energy, etc., you can avoid enemies to make it to the next level.
The battle system is very reminiscent of NIS’ Disgaea series with the tactical grid movement, skills, and even the in-battle menu. Each character and enemy has a turn and a movement. You can move your characters anywhere within blue squares while yellow squares show the range of your specific character’s attacks; this also applies to skills. During the character/enemy’s turn, an attack can be made, skills and items can be used, defense applied, or skip a turn and use an ability unique to Monster Menu – Devour.
In most tactics games, players will not have this option, making Monster Menu unique. Devour allows you to consume any creature felled in battle, including teammates, gaining bonuses skills, or curses depending on who or what is being consumed. Another prominent feature in Monster Menu is that cooking and crafting are essential for survival. Cooking various dishes require ingredients you manage to scavenge during your journey such as meats and veggies to interesting ones such as rocks, hay, sticks, etc. Most of these items can be used in dishes and crafting, so choose wisely.
I admit this part of the game was overwhelming because the ingredients would go bad shortly. I’ve noticed that some ingredients spoil immediately after getting them, so you must have a certain amount of ingredients to make a dish or item. You must also ensure the cooked dish replenishes your character’s health, calories, and hydration. Each dish may affect a character’s stats, which may affect the character’s gameplay.
It’s a lot to take in, but there’s more! You also need to make sure that you watch your individual character’s weapon durability or in my case the number of arrows needed for a bow. You have the option of crafting repair kits and crafting/finding various weapons while exploring. If your weapon breaks, it will not do as much damage as it should, which could turn out bad while exploring or fighting a boss enemy. However, one of the cool things about Monster Menu is that you can change your character’s weapon if you want to. The downside is that their stats are meant for the weapons they start with, so if players decide to change their character’s weapons, they will have to build up their stats again which can be difficult. There’s just so much to keep track of!
Overall, as someone who doesn’t play dungeon crawlers, Monster Menu was a little stressful but enjoyable! A couple of times, the camera angles were wonky or battles were not engaging after touching an enemy. If you’re a fan of dungeon crawlers, cooking dishes with ingredients you found on your journey, crafting, and tactical gameplay, Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook is a must-try. Just don’t go hungry!
Monster Menu: Scavenger’s Cookbook Review
Don't Go Hungry Into the Night
To eat or not to eat is the question! Dungeon crawling, monsters, and questionable meals aplenty in Monster Menu!