Children can be absolute monsters, but in Monster Prom that is far more true than you might imagine. This indie game from Beautiful Glitch crams ghouls, zombies, vampires, and maniacal hellspawn into an emotional tinderbox full of hopes, aspiration, and existential torment. Pack your bag and get ready to return to high school in Monster Prom.
Produced by Jessie Cox, this is more than some vehicle to peddle internet fame. It is a uniquely inventive dating simulator that takes the traditional prom dance, injects some off the wall humor, and transplants it into a monster movie high school. Dating simulators have had something of a resurgence of late, from the unexpected success of Hunnie Pop, Purrfect Date, Hatoful Boyfriend, and the upcoming Boyfriend Dungeon. They all take the traditional dating diatribe and rework it in ways that give the genre a fresh new twist. While Monster Prom is no Doki Doki Literature club, it definitely stands out from the crowd. Monster Prom has a personality all of its own. The artwork alone was enough to perk my interest when it launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, and a bold, cheery comic book aesthetic gives the game the kind of untamed energy and optimism that only comes from the aspirations of youth.
Despite being creatures of the night Vera, Liam, Miranda, Damien, Polly, and Scott are the engaging love interests of Monster Prom. Each of these gorgeous ghouls and deliciously sexy demons has their own quirky characteristics and fit some fairly obvious tropes. Liam, for example, is a vampire but also happens to be a cool conflicted hipster. Damien, on the other hand, is is hell demon and a walking attitude problem, the typical teenage boy really. Each of these individual interests is fantastically written, with witty one-liners and the most oddball answers you could imagine. Do not be surprised if you end up talking an unwitting accomplice into replacing the school’s drinking water with mosquitoes or releasing party goblins on unsuspecting alumni.
Each of these utterly odd atrocities is the direct result of a player choice. Much like any visual novel or dating simulator, players have some leeway to choose their own path. Situations occur over the course of a 60 or 30 minute play window and allow for an acceptably large variety of outcomes. Every interaction with your classmates provides the opportunity to influence a player’s stats and as every day comes to a close, your story evolves. Smarts, Boldness, Creativity, Charm, Fun, and Money can fluctuate depending on a number of factors, from your particular location, specific answers, and what you are cramming into your school satchel. It is your aim to match your character attributes to your favorite prom phantasm. Chase after the career-focused Vera and you will need a definite business acumen while building up your charm might work better on another character. While some of the cafeteria escapades are almost certain to repeat themselves, Beautiful Glitch has managed to craft extensive replay value into Monster Prom.
That replay value is put to good use. Getting a date in Monster Prom isn’t as easy to achieve as a food fight in a high school cafeteria. While the school map telegraphs opportunities to increase your stats, the stats required to capture a zombie’s hand are fairly opaque. It took me several attempts to secure a solitary date, and it gets even tougher when you start up local multiplayer. Unfortunately online multiplayer is not working right now, so we will pass on that, but going ham against your friends can make for some fierce competition. While you all take turns battling the daily life of a normal zombie or fire demon, your friends can busily sweep up the best seats at lunch break pipping you to the stats that you need. This is all carried through by superbly silly writing, although some situations might not always adequately help you progress towards a final goal.
With so many attempts required to grab a solitary date, it is no wonder that each round of Monster Prom is slated as a 30-60 minute experience. I feel like it would be great to get more time to explore the outcome of events at this monster madhouse, rather than rely on a series of spooky skits. Characters like the Slayer and the Covenant idle in and out of the game, but never really get any time to steal the show. In essence, I loved these high schoolers so much, I want more flesh on their emaciated bones.
Monster Prom is Hatoful Horror. It is an offbeat take on the horrors of teenage relationships. A great art style and some amazing writing make it easy to just plug in and replay. If you are ready to go back to high school, but just because this time it might really be the end of the world, then Monster Prom is worth a selling your soul for, or just buy it on Steam instead.