Title: Always Sometimes Monsters
Release Date: May 21, 2014
Publisher (Developer): Devolver Digital (Vagabond Dog)
ESRB Rating: N/A. There’s a lot of mature content and many adult situations, so I’d actually say it’s best for players ages 18 and up.
I’m still upset about how my Always Sometimes Monsters playthrough went. Days later, and it’s still got me feeling, pardon my language, shitty. I don’t regret the decisions I made. They’re the same ones I probably would have made in real life, had I been pushed into such difficult situations. But I just can’t accept that these choices would have resulted in such a tragic ending. Always Sometimes Monsters gets to you.
One Last Chance for Love
You had the chance of a lifetime. You were discovered. A publisher saw potential in you, and wanted you to write a book.
But, only you. Which wasn’t how it was supposed to be. You and your best friend, Sam, were supposed to live the dream together. You’ve been writing partners since forever. But, the publisher only believes in, and wants, you. Your lover thinks you should take this chance. You have one window. So, you go for it.
But, you don’t get that dream. You wind up in Dubstown, defaulting on your contract with the publisher because you didn’t deliver the book. Your best friend is gone. Your lover left you. A year later, and you’re alone.
Worst of all, you get an invitation saying your former lover is getting married on the other side of the country in one month.
That’s where Always Sometimes Monsters begins. You’re at the very bottom, desperate, and one step away from living on the streets. An odyssey is beginning, and who knows what will await at the end. Love? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Or, maybe, a chance at a fresh start.
Always Sometimes Monsters is powerful. Players are constantly put into situations where there aren’t always black or white answers, only grey. You’ll always be questioning yourself, wondering if you did the best you possibly could, and usually won’t even know for certain if what you did was right or wrong before it’s too late. The dialogue is well written, the situations thought provoking, and the characters feel real, all of which go a long way towards making the game incredible. There are some spelling errors, but nothing major, and the amount of detail put into the world creation pulled me into the game.
Though, Always Sometimes Monsters can be tedious. Then again, so can life. There were a lot of things I wanted. The ability to run on the worldmap, as the slow walking pace is frustrating for larger areas. The mini-games and jobs can be tedious. The game doesn’t tells you the boxes never end at the warehouse, and you could end up loading all day. The last boxing match in Salt City is mostly random, though I recommend throwing lots of hooks. I suppose Vagabond Dog was going for something by making these tasks mind numbing, but a little bit of lightness couldn’t hurt and other players may be more patient than I.
Which means there’s really only one thing about Always Sometimes Monsters that could make or break your experience. Brace yourself before the ending. I thought I made all the right decisions. Or, at least as right as I could given the options Vagabond Dog made available. Maybe some sins were commited, but I tried to do right by people as often as I could. I tried to be as fair as possible to Sam. But, in the end, I got what is probably the shittiest ending I ever experienced in a game. (Yes, it was even worse than the original Mass Effect debacle.) It soured me on the whole experience, and I can honestly say I won’t play this game again because of it.
But, the fact that Always Sometimes Monsters was capable of elliciting such a response from me and provoking such a reaction isn’t necessarily bad, nor mean it’s a terrible game. It’s effective at provoking responses and making the player think. The deck may be stacked against you, especially since a Salt City patch that let you double your money off of Firewood has been removed, but there are important lessons to be learned and stories to hear here.
You’re probably, most likely, absolutely going to be a monster
For the first 9 and a half hours I played Always Sometimes Monsters, I was convinced this would be my favorite indie game of the year. That perhaps I would love it even more than the exemplary Transistor. Vagabond Dog really created something profound and thought provoking. Though, I must admit, the rather depressing ending tainted the game for me, and after consulting other people to find what their results were, I’m convinced I won’t play again. Always Sometimes Monsters is an important game, to be sure. Anyone who plays it will surely be drawn into their hero or heroine’s tale. Yet, I can’t help but think that the game portrays an excessively pessimistic view of the human condition. It’s one thing to make a game realistic, it’s another create a situation where really, no matter how much good you do or how hard you try, your character is always sometimes a monster.
Site [Always Sometimes Monsters]