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Monark review, the madness of the ego

From some developers who worked on the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series comes Monark, a new JRPG that we tested in this review

Each of us is represented by our ego, that part of us that makes us unique and that during our growth develops according to the stimuli received, giving us a unique personality. The ego feeds on both good and bad feelings, the famous seven deadly sins present in varying degrees in each of us. Just the concept of “Ego”And how this defines each person is at the center of the story of Monarchnew JRPG that we will get to know in this review.

Monark will arrive on PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC from the next February 25 published by NIS America. The title was made by the studio Lancarsea team that has often collaborated with Atlus and in the past has worked on several titles of the Shin Megami Tensei series and some spin-offs of Persona and, as we will see, the influences inherited from the Atlus titles can all be seen.

A school full of mysteries

The themes of Monark’s story are very similar to what was seen in the Persona series, especially the recently released fifth chapter. Also in this case we are dealing with a metaphysical dimension that influences the behavior of human beings and returns the theme of the Seven Deadly Sinscentral in the various buildings in which Persona 5 was divided. In Monark the story begins in a normal school, which suddenly sees itself isolated from the outside world due to a mysterious barrier which makes it impossible to get out.

But that’s not all, because a fog begins to spread inside the school that drives anyone crazy who ends up in their midst for too long. Nobody seems to understand the situation and there does not even seem to be the possibility of contacting help outside the school, since the telephone lines do not work and indeed the cell phones sometimes start ringing for no reason, especially in the middle of the fog.

We will meet our protagonist in an interview with the school principal, before the event upsets the lives of the students, and here, in perfect Persona style, we will have to choose its name. Beyond that we will have to face a kind of psychological test on personality, very similar to many that can also be found simply by doing a search on the internet. In this way our Ego will be scoreddivided into the seven deadly sins which we will talk about later.

After this part our protagonist will wake up in a foggy area of ​​the school, where he will be saved by his younger sister, the former student council president and the school doctor. Our protagonist, however, has lost his memory and can only remember his own name.

While escaping from the foggy area, the group is surprised by a phone call, as soon as the protagonist answers he is dragged into another dimension called Otherworld, where beings called Demons and the incarnations of sins live. The group is attacked by some skeleton-like beings and when all seems lost, our avatar is saved by Vanitasa kind of macabre plush in the shape of a bunny that gives him a mysterious power which allows him to fight within the dimension.

Soon our protagonist will discover directly from the principal that the school is under the control of seven mysterious students who have made a pact with the superior demons of the Seven Deadly Sins becoming gods Pactbearer with powers that affect other people. The fog is caused precisely by these Pactbearers, who in exchange for their power make the demons feed the feelings of human beings. The group of our protagonist will then have to face them all going to the Otherworld and destroying three crystals that symbolize the pact, so as to return everything to normal.

Monark review, the madness of the ego

The plot of Monark is very interesting and manages to evolve while keeping the player’s attention high, slowly revealing all its mysteries. Despite the premises that are very reminiscent of Persona and a linearity of the progression of the plot (in which you will have to beat the seven Pactbearers one by one), manages to surprise thanks to some very successful and hardly imaginable twists. The story has several endings defined according to the main ally that we will choose from the four available.

The story in fact, in this way will focus on the relationship between the protagonist and the character that has been decided to deepen, and once the game is over it will be possible to skip the initial parts in common between the various supporting actors, to follow the events with another. character without having to replay pre-made parts. However the narrative is not without flaws, mainly attributable to some abused stereotypes typical of anime that here are too preponderant and sometimes annoying, making some characters a bit of specks and some situations very cliché. Despite this, even if we are not at the level of the Persona, Monark manages to offer a more than good story to fans of this genre.

Monark review, the madness of the ego

Fighting Sin – Monark Review

At the heart of Monark’s gameplay are battles with demons. These will trace the style of turn-based strategic RPGs, in the style of good old Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblems, but without the grid for moving and attacking. The movement in your turn will be free, and a circle will delimit the maximum area in which we can move. Attacks will also have different indicators to show us the range they will cover.

In addition to the human characters of our party, our protagonist, by virtue of his pact, will be able to summon called creatures Fiends, skeletal-like beings with human faces, who will fight at his orders. These are linked to the various deadly sins and the protagonist’s Ego will determine which ones he can invoke, always unlocking new ones when he reaches a certain score in one of the sins.

I Fiends avranno different characteristics and abilities according to the sin from which they are generated, and they can also be customizable in terms of aesthetics, being able to change face, hair color and voice. We will also be able to equip them with Vessels: pieces of equipment that will boost their stats and change their appearance as if they were wearing armor. Human characters, on the other hand, will not have any applicable type of equipment.

The attacks that we will be able to carry are mainly of two types: Artsi.e. physical attacks that will usually require HP to be used; Authorities, the spells of the game that will raise the Mad Gauge with each use. In reality the difference is not that extreme, some characters in fact will have healing abilities like Arts or Authorities and so on.

The Mad Gauge it is one of the fundamental elements of the game, and will have an effect both during exploration and in combat. If this reaches 100% our character will lose control and will attack allies and enemies for three turns and then go KO. In this state the stats increase except the defense which will decrease. The player will be able to activate another special state called Awakenwhich will increase by using a specific command or by taking damage.

When this is activated the statistics will increase and the Arts and Authorities can be used at no cost. Finally, if a player manages to activate both the Mad and Awaken state at the same time, he will be able to activate theEnlightenmentanother state where stats will be vastly boosted and skills cost nothing.

Handling these upgrades the right way will give you a huge advantage in battle, especially as some of the more powerful attacks can only be used by activating these special states. In addition to these, however, there will be several maneuvers that will help us to prevail in battle. The Backstab will occur when we hit an enemy from behind inflicting much more damage and above all avoiding this counterattack. If the attacker (be it ally or enemy) has an ally on his side, he can get an extra support attack from this, in addition there is also the command Defer which, by increasing the Mad Gauge a little, will allow you to give your turn to another ally so as to allow him to act again. The command Wait then it allows you to recover HP, essential since these will be lost even just using the Arts.

During the Monark review phase we faced numerous fights that made us understand how layered the system isand going forward the options in battle will increase more and more, moreover they will also find themselves special effects in arenas, such as healing or poisonous zones or portals that facilitate the transition between two different areas. The battles are also quite challenging as you progress through the game and will always have to be be careful that our protagonist does not die, because even if the rest of the team is alive, it will be enough for him to be knocked out to see the Game Over screen. We found Monark’s combat system to be successful, albeit not one of the best of a strategic nature, but it undoubtedly has fun and does his job.

Monark review, the madness of the ego

Raising Your Ego – Monark Review

The character progression system in Monark is rather atypical than that of the classic JRPG, but simple to understand. Everything will be based around theaccumulation of Spiritconsider that it will serve both to acquire skills and to buy items from Vanitas, our guardian spirit.

Each skill acquired will raise the chosen character one level, the Spirit, however, is universally shared among everyone, it will therefore be necessary to distribute it equally, since each level obtained will increase the general stats of that particular character and you risk boosting one too much, leaving the others behind. It will still be possible to farm some specific fights in order to get more Spirit, or you can dismantle the excess objects, always from Vanitas, to get extra.

Our protagonist will be the only one to have too the ego as a statistic; this is divided into seven parts which represent the deadly sins and their value will increase both by fighting and by taking special psychological tests that will be proposed to us by some of the students of the school. The level of the seven sins of our Ego will serve both to be able to summon Fiends of every type of sin and both to be able to obtain the Alter Ego of some students, who we will find crystallized around the school. Sometimes in fact we will not be able to collect them because we will not have enough points in that particular sin. If collected, however, these will increase some stats permanently for all our characters.

Monark review, the madness of the ego

The Mists of Madness – Monark Review

Monark also has a substantial exploratory phase as we noted in the review. The setting is actually basically boiled down to school, as the whole game takes place there. The…