Always Sometimes Monsters – Preview (PC)

Life: The Videogame – Always Sometimes Monsters

Life – What a concept. Real life is depressing for most people. Short on money, short on time, short on just about everything that gets you ahead.  The creators of Always Sometimes Monsters have decided to roll everything about life’s little challenges up into an RPG that defies the very genre.

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Always Sometimes Monsters is not your typical RPG, it does not feature combat, and you do not have the ability to level up. After a cut scene you start the game at a party and select your character from the people hanging out at the party, then you go out to the patio to pick out a love interest be it male or female. Your character is a writer, and they are about to be given a massive book deal. Everything seems to be going along swimmingly in this virtual life of yours, and then a dramatic sting… One year later, everything has fallen apart at the seams.

You wake up in a studio apartment; your sole possessions in this world now include 3 pizza pockets that you can heat up in your microwave.  Your landlord is not happy with you at all, you owe 500 bucks in back rent and you must pay it by the end of the day or be booted out on your ass to spend the night on one of the dank and dirty mattresses in the open air. You have the opportunity to help one of your former neighbors or to go work at a club called Phoenix. The choices are always up to the player, but unless you save you may pass up a better opportunity without ever knowing about it, just as in real life.

The next day your “friend” at the publisher has sent you the check that you have been waiting on, oh but there is a catch, its short by thousands of dollars. So of course you go outside to call him up on the payphone to find out what the hell is going on. Turns out you are six months late completing your masterpiece and the publisher wants to cut its losses. Your buddy is in big trouble and he had to fight just to get you the pittance of 250 dollars. To top that all off, you find in your mailbox an invitation to your ex’s wedding. Things are going from bad to worse, and it’s up to you to turn it all around.

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Always Sometimes Monsters is an auditory treat for the ears. It features a soundtrack calling back to the best days of the Super Nintendo. Some of it has a very 80s vibe that harkens back to the days at the dance clubs, rocking out to Flock of Seagulls or Duran Duran. You may even find yourself wanting to purchase the OST after playing.  Graphically the game is much more closely representative of its 16-bit homage, but works well. If this game had a battle system it could be a retro new gen Earthbound. But this is an altogether different monster.

The game’s biggest hurdle seems to be the controls, the game is very close to its launch but playing with a joystick can place you on the wrong path. For example pressing forward may put you in that direction, on the other hand, you may end up suddenly traveling  in an upwards direction after moving a few feet in the right direction. This becomes a massive problem later as placement of objects and controls become vital to passing those missions with flying colors. The buttons also seem to be reversed for no discernible reason but this may be fixed later on in bug squashing.

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Always Sometimes Monsters is scheduled to be released on Steam later this month, as it is nearing completion the minor glitches and control scheme issues should be ironed out by then.

This is a game that deals in all of the dark and depressing facets that make life so fascinating. It demonstrates that even in the darkest times there is still a glimmer of hope, and if that gets squashed the next glimmer may be right around the corner, offering up a much better opportunity, and that in the end you may just find yourself winning. Keep an eye out for Always Sometimes Monsters.