I'm Not A Monster - Beta Review

Brought to us by publisher Alawar Premium and developer Cheerdealers, who worked together on Distrust, I'm Not A Monster is a multiplayer, turn-based strategy game, influenced by the popular party games Mafia and Werewolf.

The game has a retro-futuristic feel to it, helped by both the visual and sound design of the game, complementing each other excellently (think 50's B-movie and you are on the right tracks).  The back story for the game is that you are on a tourist starship, The Albatross, when disaster strikes and monsters invade, picking off the passengers one-by-one.

Planning a move
In the game you are randomly assigned a role at the start of each round, either, that of a hero, or that of a monster.  In the version played there is currently only one game mode "Save the Civilians" so we will only discuss that game mode.  There is also place holder menu items for "Cleanse the Infected", "Stay Alive", "Battle Royale" and "Evacuate".  In the game mode played the concept is very simple.  If you are a hero you need to rescue NPC civilians from the monsters, and if a monster, infect civilians and heroes.  The game mechanics can be quite overwhelming and confusing at first, for example heroes can have special abilities depending on what weapons and equipment are being carried, and heroes being able to shape-shift to disguise themselves as humans.  Thankfully the developers are aware of this and have provided some in-depth tutorials.  It took me about 20-30 minutes to play through these and I would highly recommend taking the time to have a look at them, even if just for the accompanying voice over.

A player shoots at another with a Ray Pistol
Gameplay is as to be expected from this style of game.  You have a number of action points which can be used to move or use equipment and weapons.  Movement is on a tile system where you can move within a limited range, determined by available action points and distance travelled.  In the planning phase you have about 30 seconds to decide what you want to do - will you run straight up the middle, hide behind an object, interact with crates for goodies, or tell a civilian to follow you to safety.  When all players have completed their planning and have flagged as ready, the

A monster attacks to infect a human
What makes it interesting is that if playing as a monster you can choose which human character you wish to disguise yourself as.  This can be used to your advantage.  If someone notices you changing form as you are in their sight, then you can change to imitate a different character to try and disorientate the other player.  As a monster you are able to infect both NPC civilians and player heroes.  To do this you need to change into your monster form and attack, holding the other character for 2 turns without being attacked, to infect them.  If a hero isn't healed within 5 turns, they become a monster and if a NPC is infected a monster who is killed takes over that body.  Once 50% of the civilians have been rescued/infected the round ends and you are shown stats for the match

A Monster selects which of the nearby humans they are going to impersonate (shown by the yellow highlight)
The game is designed as a multiplayer experience for 6 players.  The game cannot be played with less than this, but the devs have taken steps to make this as simple as possible for players.  The first option is to populate the game with friends from your Steam list.  To do this you simply click on one of the boxes with a '+' symbol at the top of the screen, and select them from this list.  The other way to find players, or indeed fill the gaps when playing with friends, is through a matchmaking system.  This all happens automatically when you start a new game.  The software will search for players to fill the gaps in your game.  If the system can't find players, it will add AI bots into the empty slots after about 45-60 seconds meaning that you will always be able to play. 

A Hero rescues a civilian after escorting them to the escape shuttle
For being in a beta state the game feels very well polished with no major bugs that I have experienced.  There is a lot of information on the HUD which is a bit spread out in places (I often forget to check the status of my character in the character portrait for example) but for me the real attraction is the graphic style.  Not only do you have the retro sci-fi art, but as you play you also get the ocaissional blemish on the screen, really adding to that feeling of watching a B-Movie play out.  We don't have a release date yet (other than it is expected later this year) but this is certainly a game that I will be keeping my eye on.

The developers have also been fairly active on Steam with regular news articles, responding to players on the Steam Discussions and also pushing updated versions of the demo with bug fixes fairly regularly over the past few weeks.  As an added incentive for players to join in this phase the developers are offering a prize draw for all users who participate in the open beta and complete a short survey from within the main menu for Steam keys of the game when it releases.  The demo/open beta of I'm Not A Monster is available now for free on Steam.

I'm Not A Monster - Beta Review I'm Not A Monster - Beta Review Reviewed by Parcival on September 12, 2018 Rating: 5

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