Gotta catch ‘em all in Syfy Monster Island
Syfy Monster Island is a Facebook-based role-playing game developed by Sneaky Games. The game challenges players to battle and capture a wide variety of creatures based on those seen in cable network SyFy’s original movies, growing stronger and building an impressive collection of tamed monsters in the process.
Once the player has created and named their avatar, they are introduced to the game’s basic concepts through a series of story-based tutorial missions. The player is shown how to explore the map, engage in combat, equip new items and display captured monsters at their base camp.
The structure of the game is similar to EA2D’s Dragon Age Legends, but without the asynchronous cooperative element in combat. Players move from node to node on a map, following a linear path for the most part. Most nodes are simply places through which to move, but occasionally the player will come across “explorable” locations. These areas may be searched several times to uncover various treasures and, in some cases, complete quests. Recruiting friends will help players explore these nodes quicker and thus get their hands on a much higher quantity of useful items.
Upon passing through a node, the player has a high chance of being attacked by monsters. Should this happen, the player is taken to a separate battle screen where they and the monsters square off against one another and then take it in turns to fight. The player may attack with any of the weapons they have equipped, but most of these have a “cooldown” period of at least a turn before they may be used again. Should the player find themselves in a situation where all their weapons are on cooldown, a machete is always available for basic damage-dealing, or various consumable items may be used for healing.
The player is joined in battle by various companion characters they encounter while completing the game’s quests. The addition of these characters to the player’s party provides an advantage in combat, though their artificial intelligence seems to be limited to picking a target at random to attack each turn. This makes in-depth strategising difficult as it is impossible to guarantee that all characters will focus on attacking the same monster. Fortunately, the monsters are also prone to the same trouble, attacking party members at random rather than focusing on the one who is the weakest.
Occasionally the player will be thrown into boss fights against significantly tougher enemies. In many cases, defeating these boss monsters (many of whom are based on creatures from SyFy’s over-the-top original movies) allows the player to capture and tame them. Rather than taking the Pokémon route and allowing the player to then use these monsters in combat, however, the collection of monsters simply allows for the building up of the “base camp” location. Here, players are able to shop for consumable items and weapons; pick up special missions; craft new items; and display captured monsters. Said monsters produce resources regularly, and there are a number of quests throughout the game which require these resources, along with those that can be collected by clearing debris and chopping down trees in the base camp area.
Monster Island is a mostly satisfying experience for RPG enthusiasts. Its combat is challenging — albeit a little more than necessary due to the poor companion AI — and there is a wide variety of things for players to see and do. The game also features strong monetization features, with new party members, supply crates and even a premium membership option on offer in exchange for the game’s hard currency.
A few minor flaws mar the game experience a little, however. Visibly loading assets is one of these, with some objects taking a while to appear despite there having been a separate loading screen beforehand. The most obvious of these is when the player character first appears in combat and is standing in their underwear, then the rest of their clothes fade into existence on top of them. This does not appear to happen every time, as the assets are then cached for subsequent use, but it is a little disconcerting to see at times!
The game’s writing also features a number of spelling and grammatical errors — the use of “monkies” instead of “monkeys” particularly springs to mind at the time of writing. Given the game’s apparent focus on story and characterization outside of the combat scenes, expending a little more effort on proofreading the in-game text would have helped the game feel more polished. On the subject of text, one of the fonts used regularly is also rather hard on the eyes, particularly as it’s often seen at quite a small size. This, coupled with the apparent lack of a full-screen mode, can make the game a hassle to play on high-resolution displays. This seems like a user experience issue which could be relatively easily rectified to make the game more comfortable to play for longer periods — an important consideration when attempting to monetize partly through an energy system as this title does.
It’s a shame to see these issues, as the game’s presentation is otherwise excellent and the gameplay is solid, if simple. It’s a good start and well worth playing as it is, but players would likely appreciate just a little extra polish to convince them to spend more time with the game.
SyFy Monster Island currently has 230,000 monthly active users and 20,000 daily active users. To follow its progress, check out AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
A solid RPG that could just do with a bit of touching up around the edges to improve the user experience.