Monster Prom‘s slogan is “Be Your Worst Self” which, if you’re anything like me, was something you had zero problem doing in high-school. Maybe you were a jock: dumb and huge as you were lovable. Maybe you were a hard partier: rarely caught in class and rarely caught sober. Maybe you were a big dork crossed with a big nerd crossed with a needlessly-jaded narcissist, like I was.
Wasn’t high school fun?
Prom with actual monsters is nothin’, I’ve already been there. Everyone’s actual Prom Night is some combination of formative, embarrassing and ridiculous – mine sure was.
But there are more options, though. Maybe you were one of these:
Maybe you were the Gorgon ultra-capitalist mob-boss with great hair, no heart, and a mind like a steel trap. Maybe you were the cute, airheaded and needlessly cruel mermaid heiress. Were you the fanfic-obsessed nerd with a thousand mouths and purple tentacles for hair, or the cool and collected vampire hipster with the bite-marks on your arm – because the neck is too mainstream? Was it office printer with a heart, or literal devil?
Sure they’re all ridiculous, but they all kind of ring a bell, right?
What if the kindhearted, huge jock was a werewolf and a himbo to boot? That would certainly explain his super-strength and the way he smelled. The nerd? Well, he’s just a huge calculator on legs – but there’s something cute about the way he stumbles through life. What about the super-hot party girl – she never slept, never studied, and seemed basically invincible: what makes her different than a ghost? And if you could party forever, well why not, right?
Monster Prom is a game for monsters, and people who dated monsters in high school. You spend your days flirting with monsters, appeasing their whims in hopes of scoring a date to prom, and accidentally trashing your school along the way. Don’t worry, it’s cool – you’re a monster too.
It’s high school all over again.
Monster Prom is a party game, which should come as no surprise. Each player selects one of the four player-monsters and a set of pronouns, and heads off to Monster High. Gameplay opens on a Teen Vogue-style personality quiz determining your stats and a potential set of romantic interests – though where you take it from there is entirely up to you and who you happen to bump into in the hallway. Everyone is fair game and anything can happen – provided you play your cards right. Because Monster Prom is effectively a board-game, you’ll soon find that playing your cards right is surprisingly difficult.
Each game is the length of a season leading up to prom, and every day players must choose an activity in the school to boost their stats. Ideally, they’ll boost the same stats they believe their crush will value most. But what does their crush value most? Is it money, intelligence, boldness, fun? It can be hard to tell, and even harder to figure out how to raise each stat. The gym doesn’t do what you think it does, and one of the options each round is a store: the items the shopkeep sells will affect your entire run, and even open up whole new storylines. There’s no telling where you’ll end up.
All the while the monsters themselves are roaming the school. You might be trying to work on your Smarts to impress the handsome vampire Liam de Lioncourt, but end up running into Scott at the library – and he seems very impressed by your studies. Perhaps it’s time for a change of tact, especially if one of your friends is after Scott themselves. Things get even more intense when it’s time to decide where to sit for lunch. Players all go in turn, but there’s only one seat at each table – and if you get shut out, perhaps it’s time to sit with the Hunter, the Coach, or one of the other NPC’s that can shake up the game.
Or what about the Kappa guy? He seems nice.
Either way, the clock’s ticking, and every day you get closer to Prom. You’ll have a choice to make – but so will all your friends. And remember, just like in real life, you can always go alone. Monster Prom is the rare visual novel it’s extremely possible to lose.
At all points, Monster Prom‘s sense of humour – courtesy of their four writers – is front and center. It’s equal parts good-natured teen comedy and relentlessly horny sex-com. No matter what you get up to and who you chase after, the jokes never, ever stop. It’s some of the sharpest comedic writing I’ve seen in a game: you will be flirted with, flirted past and flirted over, but you will never be allowed to forget that your one job here is to go to prom. At any cost.
That werewolf won’t date himself.
Despite all the dick jokes, one of Monster Prom’s greatest strengths is, oddly, its restraint. Any time it feels like the game is about to drop into Cards Against Humanity-esque ‘offensive humour’ territory it stops short. Everyone is welcome at Monster High, and to that effect, everyone is relentlessly horny to the same degree. Drugs, sex, violence and other monstrous activities are all on the table, but Monster Prom never punches down. It’s a high school character-comedy first and always – it has no time to be mean.
That same good-natured approach to its subject matter is what distinguishes Monster Prom from its peers in the dating board-game world, and for that matter, a great deal of Teen Comedy at large. The game itself might get horny and goofy, but players are never meant to feel uncomfortable. Every ridiculous thing that happens on-screen stays on-screen (and often off-screen), and the game’s attention to this important detail is a big part of why it’s fun to play. Monster Prom is a game about horny losers, not specifically sex, and watching everyone bumble past each other is much of the fun. Yes they are monsters, and you are monsters, but Monster Prom never loses sight of the fact that it’s the characters, not the players themselves, that are the butt of the joke. The goal is to have fun with a cast of ridiculous inept cool-kids, watch them fail, and discover as many of the game’s 40 secret endings as possible.
And to take your friend’s crush to prom. Duh. So get out there – Zoe won’t flirt with herself.
Well, she might. She’s weird.