I had Always Sometimes Monsters in my Steam wishlist for sometime now. Of course, as with ever other game I review, the premise caught my eye: your boyfriend/girlfriend left you and the game explores just how far you’re willing to go to get them back. Vagabond Dog brought a great adventure RPG to the table, one that I had somehow overlooked the past few months (ASM came out in May 2014). It was done in RPGmaker, an indie engine that allows you to make that JRPG you’ve always dreamed of. Except in this case, Always Sometimes Monsters has you play an average Joe. No money, no job, no significant other. You get an invitation to your ex’s wedding, to which you immediately set off on a cross-country journey. The game offers choices that drive the story (as with Telltale Games‘ titles and the previous game I reviewed, Psy High) but it seems that the choices are sometimes veiled to converge on one of only two outcomes.In my playthrough, I made choices based on how I would make them. Unfortunately, my college roommate and best friend married my ex and I went off a sad, pathetic loser. However, I questioned the game’s lack of choice in spilling everything that happened right when you’re able to object. I surrendered my one chance at picking my life back up in order to bail my friend out of a casino debt, to which I wish there was a choice for you to tell your ex that at the wedding. Instead, the only choices you’re given are to either shut up and let him/her get married, or object and make an ass out of yourself.
The first time I ran through it, she completely blew me off and got married anyway. The choices you make are far and wide, but I wish it was more diverse than making forced decisions. If the game was trying to reflect how the real world operates, then it does an okay job, at best. The world isn’t nearly as linear as Always Sometimes Monsters portrays, but that’s evidently the feeling you’re left with after just the first playthrough. On top of that, usually JRPGs have a pause before making a major decision; not the case here. While skipping text, I found myself making decisions without showing me all the options because the choice box pops up immediately when a decision question is asked. I wish the developers paid a little more attention to other JRPGs that do this so that the frustration level would be kept to a minimum.
The game does offer LGBT relationships, and this is how they work. In the beginning, you play as the host of a party. His wife tells him he’s allowed only one drink for the night, and that drink you share with almost any one of the guests inside will determine who you play as in the game. I ended up picking the Asian-looking dude who had a bottle of bourbon (I think, if I remember correctly). You then switch characters to the eventual protagonist and head out back to the patio to select your significant other, whether girl or guy. I picked a girl with sunglasses and long brown hair because she reminded me of someone I know in real life. The two of you sign a card, which determines your names for the game, and proceed inside to begin the story. I’ll keep this brief and say that Always Sometimes Monsters was an alright adventure game, but the lack of choices made the game feel heavily forced in a lot of situations when the world is so nonlinear in that sense. It’s great for a few playthroughs, but otherwise not really that much of a stand-out game. Try it for only $9.99 on Steam.
Verdict: 7/10 (Bite It and Leave It)
+ Models real life || + Choices drive the story of the game
= LGBT relationships are an option
– Some choices offered were very narrow in diversity and felt forced || – Game had only two choices for final outcome || – Real world not as linear as the game tries to present