REVIEW: Meg's Monster is an unforgettable emotional journey
Why must I cry?!
At first glance, Meg’s Monster might seem like a traditional, old-school RPG. The official trailers certainly give off that vibe, showcasing multiple battles mixed with dialog portions and cut-scenes. In actuality, Meg’s Monster is very much a visual novel with a bit of extra window dressing. The focus here is the game’s story, and having come out the other side a blubbering mess a few times over, I completely understand why.
Meg’s Monster follows the titular Meg as she stumbles into an unknown land. She’s not quite sure how she got there, but the only thing on her mind is finding her mother. Moments after she arrives in this strange new world, Meg bumps into Roy and Golan, two monsters who complete the trio of main characters. From this point on, you’re taken on a journey of growth, adventure, love, death and so much more.
I really don’t want to delve into the story specifics for any portion of Meg’s Monster, as I feel that would be a disservice to the experience. Again, this game is extremely story-driven, which means painstakingly detailing the twists and turns would remove the main reason to experience this tale. Instead, I think it’s much more important to share my feelings that bubbled up during Meg’s Journey, as they’re ones that will stay with me my entire life.
I’ve always been one to be moved to tears by entertainment. Be it a song or TV show, movie or video game, if the right notes are hit, the waterworks let loose. If certain elements resonate for me, such as characters I connect with or melodies that tie into a memory, I easily start tearing up. In recent years, I’ve experienced a decent amount of instances where a piece of entertainment got me to start bawling. With that said, I have never cried as much or as hard as I did with Meg’s Monster.
I had a feeling that Meg’s Monster might make me a little misty-eyed just by what I saw in the trailer, but I had no idea it would impact me so much. I’m talking about eyes full of tears at least and full-on ugly crying at worst. Furthermore, there wasn’t just one moment that pushed me over the edge. Throughout the roughly 4 hour game, I broke down on numerous occasions. Little character interactions, big story revelations, and plenty of other passing instances made me cry. In other words, if you’re going to give this game a shot, keep a box of tissues nearby.
This whole journey is heightened by an amazing soundtrack from Reo Uratani (Monster Hunter, Hi-Fi Rush, Atelier Ryza 2), which will no doubt impress you with its beauty and also make you weep. There aren’t too many songs in Meg’s Monster overall, but each one is a lovely experience and does heavy lifting during important story moments. The soundtrack is so good that I went back to listen to it a day after wrapping up the game, and within seconds of hearing the first tune I felt my eyes well up. Just like the story of Meg’s Monster, I’ll never forget the soundtrack either.
While I obviously love the story that Meg’s Monster tells, the game isn’t without its faults, some of which reside in the game’s story. In particular, there is one character that missed the mark for me. This character didn’t ruin the experience by any means, but they did come off a tad too one-note. There’s also some decisions made for this character that I think are aiming for elements of humor, but they unfortunately fall flat. Again, nothing to take me out of the story or ruin the mood, but I think with some more depth in the writing and a slightly different approach overall, the excellent story could have been that much better.
I will say that the story does make one decision halfway through that I believed to detract greatly from the emotional voyage I was on, but those feelings completely faded by the game’s end. If anything, I look back on that moment as a new path to an even greater experience. I felt one way after this moment happened, and then the complete opposite by the time the credits rolled. I have a suspicion quite a few people will feel the same way during this moment, but hopefully they arrive at the same place I did by the game’s end.
I think the game’s biggest misstep comes from the underutilized RPG mechanics. There’s actually an interesting setup here, with you playing as the monster, Roy, as he protects Meg. Roy is pretty much unstoppable, so Meg is never in any physical danger. What she does deal with is a fragile emotional state, and Roy has to manage that during combat. For reasons I’ll leave you to discover, Roy has to make sure Meg doesn’t cry. Instead of a health meter that drains, Meg has an emotions meter. If that meter hits zero, Meg cries, which results in a game over.
The way you manage Meg’s emotions while battling bad guys seems like a really interesting approach to combat, but it’s never fully explored. While Meg’s Monster has battles, they are very few and far between. These skirmishes come up from story confrontations, rather than bumping into bad guys in the overworld. Honestly, I think there might be 20 or less battles in total throughout the game, so don’t go into this expecting a ton of fights. What’s here is fun from a gameplay standpoint, but there’s not a lot of it. In reality, these battles push the story ahead in more than one way, so they do serve a purpose. That said, with such a unique idea and approach to combat, I wish we could see this mechanic utilized and expanded upon in another game altogether.
For me, the gripes I have with Meg’s Monster are very minor. For you, they could be a bit more bothersome, and I understand that. I really cannot stress enough that you should only go into this game if you’re 110% down with a story-first experience. Even though that’s not what I was expecting from Meg’s Monster, I am completely fine with going on that trek. I’m open to visual novels in general, and when I get something like I did from Meg’s Monster, I consider it to be time extremely well spent.
Meg’s Monster doesn’t tell an extremely sophisticated tale, but it expertly crafts an emotional rollercoaster. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this game has forever nestled itself into the recesses of my mind. These emotions, my time with the game, and the things it made me think about in my life are here to stay.
I’ve played countless games over the years that hold a spot in my memories, and a few of those have impacted me to a greater degree. Meg’s Monster is without a doubt one of those games, and I cannot recall any other entertainment experience that pulled so much raw emotion from me. It’s a beautiful exploration of people, connections, and life itself, and one I’m be eternally grateful for.