Always Sometimes Monsters review (PC)

Valenka | 80d ago | User review
Reviewing: Always Sometimes Monsters
A heartbreaking mess of a game.
Warning: minor to moderate spoilers for the sake of underlining the flaws in the narrative. Please read at your own caution and discretion.

Always Sometimes Monsters is one of those games that I tend to avoid if I know it'll disturb me emotionally. It's a story that doesn't add up the closer you get to the end, but contains enough validity to make you sit and reflect and realize that your heart goes out to the character you embody. It's not a game like something you've experienced before and while that may make or break it - depending on what your outlook is - it contains a narrative that analyzes choices we may make in life. It's gritty, it's dark and it makes you realize that even if we think a choice we've made is to survive, we are always sometimes monsters.

Imagine falling in love, feeling as though you've found the one you've been searching for all your life. Your world, your inspiration, your motivation for giving life your all. In a split second, blinded by your ambition and desire to make a name for yourself in a world where you feel small, the only thing you love walks out the door. Imagine that after losing everything and falling from grace, you get an invitation in the mailbox of your terrible apartment run by a scum lord. Your invitation: the wedding of the one you've loved and lost and their to-be spouse. You have until the end of the month to make it across the country and find your love and try once more to prove your love and rebuild the life you lost. That is the story of Always Sometimes Monsters.

Always Sometimes Monsters is an 16-bit, Pokemon-style adventure that is similar in genre to Heavy Rain; it's more about the choices you make and the subsequent consequences than anything else. You won't find yourself engaging in car chases or action sequences, combat or violence. Instead, you're morally tested and must make decisions that will ultimately define who you are and the outcome of your story. You'll choose between right and wrong, life or death, love or loss and ultimately, discovering what fate has in store for you. Your choices and actions will determine your fate and the fate of those around you as you choose to travel across the country to find the love of your life and win them back...or make a sacrifice and build a new life for yourself and let your lost love do the same.

You'll begin your story by choosing your protagonist and their would-be significant other and experience the narrative as it unfolds based on your choices and moral compass. You're a writer, who's career depends on penning your first gem and signing a contract that will set in motion the consequences of your actions. However, like Heavy Rain, the consequences of your actions don't exactly unfold the way you'd think they would, or even as they should. You'll often find your choices, morally acceptable and otherwise, to result in unfair consequences and essentially underlining the "life is tough, deal with it" attitude, when in some situations, the consequences should unfold in your favor. Either way, sometimes you'll find that your character goes through what they don't deserve to experience and there's no worse feeling than the fact that there's nothing you can do about it.

Regardless, Always Sometimes Monsters is an experience to be had, forcing you to decide between right and wrong in order to secure your survival and ultimate happiness, whether that involves trying to win back your love or choosing to let them go. It will test your morals and conscience as well as haunt your thoughts and emotions, making you truly think back on a choice and ask yourself, "What have I done?"
Ups
Theme of morality, choice and consequence
Decent 16-bit details and music
Flawed, but gripping narrative with multiple endings
Downs
Choices don't always have realistic consequences
Unfair results even for morally correct choices
Narrative is misleading
Score
8.0
Graphics 16-bit games are always in style in my book and the detail and artistic style is lovely, although sometimes generic.
7.0
Sound 16-bit music is annoyingly catchy, but not enough variety throughout.
8.0
Gameplay Gameplay is determinant on choice and decision making. You never need more than five keys of the keyboard and there isn't much to do aside from move your character and select dialogue and choice options.
7.0
Fun factor Gripping narrative, character personalization and a theme of pursuing true love. It's not fun in the traditional way but it's certainly an experience.
0.0
Online Always Sometimes Monsters does not feature an online component.
8.5
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
FogLight  +   78d ago
I have to admit that there were some choices that had strange consequences but still, even life has some tricky situations not going in your favor.

I loved ASM though. It was one of the few games that actually made me feel remorse in small choices too. Not many games do that to me so you can guess how long till I decide a major decision.

Great review! Good to see another fan of the game :D
#1 (Edited 78d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Valenka  +   76d ago
Yeah, I mean sometimes I would think that maybe it was for the sake of the narrative, but I really felt that it should have been thought out some more.

(SPOILER ALERT)
It was kind of like, the game was so linear to the point that it almost sets you up for a fail because even when you think you're making the right decision and fess up to them later when questioned, you still don't get the "good" ending unless you pretty much back-pedal and say everything you did was wrong, even if you think what you did was right.

It was a great concept, but I think it could have been executed a lot better than it was.
coolbeans  +   77d ago
I took the advice at the beginning so I can pick it up and play it later (sounds interesting). There's one part that sounds a bit strange to me though in the Ups/Downs section:

"Unfair results even for morally correct choices"

Just from seeing that, to me, it sounds more like an Up for authenticity. I'm sure morally correct choices (from our perspective) have brought unfair results to everyone at least several times before. Again, since I'm considering the warning above, perhaps the context is explained in the description of review.

Still appreciate you bringing this one up. Heard about it a few days ago and now I'd like to put on my wishlist.
Valenka  +   76d ago
I understand what you mean and yes, you're right, sometimes morally correct choices yield undesired results. However, in the review, I mentioned the [spoiler-free] bit of those outcomes underlining a "life is tough, deal with it" theme. Once you complete the story, you'll see what I mean. Whether that's truly an up or down would of course be up to your own determination. For me, it was a down, given everything that happens.

But then again, it also underlines the "everything happens for a reason" belief as well. Do me a favour and PM me your thoughts once you get around to playing it. I'd love to compare opinions with you. :)
coolbeans  +   76d ago
Sounds good. :)

I'll have to remember that when I get my laptop back and finally get around to purchasing it.

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Always Sometimes Monsters

Average Score 7.3 Reviews(26)
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