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Monster Quest is something of an App Store melting pot. In the breeding of animals, it borrows heavily from the habitat gameplay of titles like Monster Story. The fusion process through which you create new creatures will be immediately recognizable to players of popular card-battle games. Then there's the land management and empire building itself, seen in any number of games this year.
Still, singling out one title for daring to take elements of other mobile games is an argument we could level at just about any App Store game selected at random. Derivative though the game may be, the execution of all these elements is more than solid. The artwork is a step ahead of the competition too, and there's a greater hands-on feel to the combat and expansion.
Less pleasing is the game's rushed and thin tutorial, and within moments of starting up your empire the game's terminology flows thick and fast towards you. Persist through this though, and you'll find one of the best examples of the questing tutorial system, where you're gradually given all the information you need, along with a handsome reward for exploring the different aspects of the game.
Some of these quests will take you out into the wildlands, where you'll need to do battle with specific creatures to harvest certain resources. Others will task you with capturing animals, a process that crops up throughout the game and requires 'capture discs' that are thrown at the defeated animal. Different discs have a different capture success chance, so you should hang onto the best ones for the best beasties.
Once you have the necessary infrastructure in your village you can even start fusing animals together to create new and exotic breeds for the multiplayer battling. Here, a Pokemon-esque, turn-based battle plays out on another player's territory. The winner receives some cash and XP, the loser goes home with their tale between their legs.
As you'd expect from a free game like this, the currencies involved are many and varied. The game stifles itself though with the energy currency which determines just how much combat you can take part in. It seems generous in size, yet large portions are taken from even the most basic actions. It's hard to see how players are going to make much meaningful progress without dipping heavily into the in-app purchase store, and the prices there are not cheap.
Monster Quest isn't a revolution in the genre, leaning as heavily as it does on elements of other successful games. What GREE has managed to achieve however is to blend those elements together in such a way that the end result is a deeper experience. It may not welcome new players with open arms, and the energy restrictions may be more than you can bear, but those with patience and persistence will be playing Monster Quest for a long time to come.
What's Hot: The best parts of many other mobile games mixed together in a very competent package.
What's Not: There's nothing particularly original here, and the energy currency is too strict.