Monark: the preview of the new NIS America JRPG that takes both hands from Shin Megami Tensei

Monark: the preview of the new NIS America JRPG that takes both hands from Shin Megami Tensei


What is Monark? Well, it's a JRPG, that's for sure, yet the new Lancarse game released by NIS America stood out from the publisher's usual ad group. NIS is, on the other hand, a company known for dealing with extremely niche titles and focused on the - sometimes illegible - Japanese market, but this does not mean that among the ranks of its products there are not negligible pearls, often belonging to just to the complex genre just mentioned.

Monark has all the right cards to be part of these "jokers": a title with a very tantalizing concept, led by a group of veterans to whom we owe the stories of part of the Shin Megami Tensei series. In the mix, to say, there are Aya Nishitani (writer of the novels related to Digital Devil Saga and a good part of the original Shin Megami), Ryutaro Ito and Suzuki (among the main writers of the first two).

They are illustrious names that can give an extra gear to the narrative of the work, however, since they are not the main figures linked to the design of the well-known Atlus saga, that element automatically becomes the task of Lancarse alone: ​​a team rarely inclined to production of masterpieces despite the experience in the field. There is good potential behind this work, therefore, accompanied by countless doubts, in part remained even after having recently previewed Monark during the digital presentation of the upcoming releases of Nis. Today, therefore, we will tell you what we have observed, with some future expectations on the game that never hurt.

Narrative: Shin Megami ... maybe

Monark: the protagonist is very cool, even if he doesn't speak As mentioned above, Monark has more than one veteran of the Shin Megami series behind him Tensei, and part of his team said during some interviews that he wanted to create a sort of spiritual successor to Shin Megami Tensei IF: he is the ancestor of the Persona, known mainly for its school setting. Lancarse's work obviously does not re-propose the antiquated videogame systems from which it draws inspiration, for heaven's sake, however it is in turn set in a school, complete with an inevitable mix of mystery and mysticism to set the events in the countryside underway. br>
You are a protagonist with no name or voice (yes, Monark has a silent hero), who is in the midst of an unnatural situation to say the least. In fact, in your institute, seven students make pacts with powerful demonic entities called "monarchs", representative of the seven deadly sins and able to offer enormous powers to anyone who neither supports the will; after making a deal with the entity known as Vanitas - a floating rag bunny who clearly has many things to hide - it is up to you to eliminate this group of "super villains", as their raids have shaped a strange fog that over time can make people lose their minds.

This not particularly original premise is actually much more elaborate than it may seem at first glance - on the other hand there are prestigious authors at work on the game - and it is evident that Monark boasts an extremely colorful cast (the silence of the protagonist is plausibly also wanted to give the supporting actors greater visibility), wants to deal with rather profound issues (including the importance of the human ego) and presents a elaborate underlying mystery linked to the beginning of the supernatural events around which the events revolve. Difficult to draw conclusions at the moment on the narrative quality, but if nothing else it is the element on which it makes more sense to bet for the future given the names involved.

Gameplay and structure: turns in a circle

Monark: here is one of the fiends As far as gameplay is concerned, however, Monark does not seem to want to detach itself excessively from the classic turn-based systems, with an interesting variation on the theme: fights based on free movement and on the positioning of the characters.

The protagonist here does not fight alone, but forms a "special student committee" during the adventure with comrades who are in turn able to use the power of pacts. These flank you during battles (usually their presence is regulated by the plot) and are used as in a normal JRPG team, in communion with summonable creatures called "Fiends". Each member of your team can move freely within a specific circular area during their turn and gains sensitive gains in accuracy and damage if they stand behind enemies or flank them with the support of a nearby partner. Removed this positional element, the rest of the mechanics include rather common actions for a JRPG, if we exclude the rarest possibility of giving the turn of one of the companions to a character who has already acted (seen in more than a tactical RPG, but anyway uncommon), which can be very useful for abusing certain skills several times in a fight (the characters have archetypes similar to "classes", so they can be particularly suitable for some battles).

Monark: a team complete The Fiends for their part are customizable and their changes do not seem purely aesthetic (although it is clear that the customization is intentionally integrated also to be able to give a specific look to your team of summons). The gameplay shown unfortunately didn't go into much detail on these aspects (it focused more on one of the plot phases, and there was a sharp cut before the main battle ended), however it will be very important to assess how complex this actually is. system in the full game.

Being unaware of many of the advanced mechanics, our main doubts are related to what we have seen and, to be exact, to the design of quests and battles. The battles revolve after all around the positioning of the characters described above - with a lot of possibility to place the units on the field in specific predefined positions in each map - but the arenas where the clashes take place seemed extremely simplistic to us, not to mention that the same explorable maps they seemed rather straightforward and basic. There was talk of early stages, so it's too early to wrap up your head, but a little more panache in these factors would have reassured us. For the rest, Monark still has a lot of secrets yet to be revealed and some good potential behind it, which we hope will be fully exploited.

Given the names involved, Monark is undoubtedly a JRPG with potential, which could represent one of the best surprises coming from Nis America. What we saw intrigued us, but many obscure points remain related to mechanics and systems, and the initial stages seemed too simplistic. All that remains is to get your hands on the complete game, to evaluate if it will be able to really be a curious and successful successor of the first Shin Megami Tensei.


Very interesting Fiend system, and mechanics related to positioning in battle Rather unique and refined look At the reins there are many of the authors of the first Shin Megami Tensei DOUBTS Still many obscure points related to systems and narrative The initial phases do not shine for variety and complexity Have you noticed errors?

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