Guide - Updated on September 23, 2022

Oh those Japanese students! They always get into trouble. At least in many games created by developers from the Land of the Rising Sun. Monark was no exception – here the Shin Minado Academy was covered with a dome, inside of which fog began to spread, causing the students to go crazy.

The Teen Who Saves Everyone

In the role of a student, whose name we choose at the very beginning, we have to help children and adults – visit all the buildings of the academy and figure out what is happening in them. First of all, in Monark, the presentation of the story is confusing: there is no introduction as such, the main character does not remember anything (amnesia, how fresh!), the director for some reason calls him extraordinary … Over time, this becomes not so important, but the feeling that the meaning what is happening is not fully explained to you.

It turns out that people have learned to make agreements with demons from a parallel world, with those same monarchs from the title of the game. The participant in the transaction receives the power (authority) in accordance with their desires, but it is worth using it in the real world, as a stupefying fog appears around. To break the contract, you need to visit the parallel world three times and destroy the ideals of a person, at the same time defeating the monarch. Do all this – and the academy building is cleared.

Monark: Overview

This is the ideal of the one who has concluded the contract.

There are only seven monarchs, one for each of the deadly sins. The developers tried to interestingly connect these sins with the school theme: bullying by classmates, and the persecution of girls by boys, and suicide, and envy – a variety of topics are raised here. For some villains (after the destruction of ideals, they lie motionless in the first-aid post), you even begin to feel sympathy, but for the most part their stories are banal. And it would be nice if only this was a problem – here also the dialogues are often so drawn out that interest in the plot disappears and you want to rewind the conversations.

The heroes who join the protagonist and help him save the academy have signed agreements themselves, but they are not dangerous. Therefore, it seems to be interesting to simultaneously find out both the backstory of these students and the motives of people who ruin the lives of everyone else. However, the companions are as stereotyped as possible: a reserved girl with glasses that we meet in the library, a tough guy who solves problems with his fists – the images are so hackneyed that even at the first meeting with the character you can understand what he is.

Monark: Overview

This is not the only pun in his arsenal.

At times, Monark throws the player with too many dialogues: he watched the video, took a couple of steps – and again you listen to the conversations. The volume of “water” in them sometimes goes off scale, especially when you come to the doctor with new companions or introduce them to old friends. But almost everything is voiced here, and the English dubbing is not bad (if you wish, you can switch to the original, Japanese voices).

It doesn’t help that the game’s budget is clearly very small, so all the action takes place on the territory of the academy. Get ready to run through monotonous corridors with the same plants, wash basins and notice boards. At first, the game tries to seem like a horror – when you get into a location with fog, zombie-like students utter phrases in otherworldly voices, and creaky floorboards are terrifying. But then you realize that there is nothing to be afraid of and the surroundings only cause melancholy – even in the building where the guys do physical education, everything looks equally dull.

Monark: Overview

Terrible, cut it out.

School life

At the same time, the authors tried to recreate a real academy in the sense that students are standing or sitting everywhere, interacting with whom the hero keeps short dossiers. Plus, brochures and notes are scattered everywhere – someone wrote down the password to the computer, someone leaves notes about unrequited love. Occasionally, all this is needed to solve puzzles – for example, a zombified student will not let you into the right room, and you will find compromising evidence on his computer and force him to go away. However, it will not be possible to quickly solve the puzzle – you will have to either solve the cipher, or study those same dossiers. Such moments are a little tiring due to the lack of normal prompts, but without them, the academy would be completely unnecessary decoration.

An interesting feature of Monark is the periodic testing that the character is asked to pass from time to time. His new friends or random students can prepare a psychological test with a dozen questions on topics ranging from your behavior on a date to choosing between two ancient Greek goddesses. Sometimes these tests turn out to be textual mini-stories with pictures – for example, there is a fairy tale about a knight who tried to win the hand and heart of a princess, and then ran away with her and fell into a monster’s trap. The decisions you make shape the player’s ego and determine which partner you get on your team.

Monark: Overview

You can choose answers in such a way as to achieve the desired result, but it is more interesting to answer honestly.

After the first test, you are given the first companion skeleton – it is determined depending on which parameter dominates in your ego. A partner with a crossbow can get caught, who eventually learns magic tricks, or an ally with a large ax can drop out, capable of applying effects to enemies. Over time, the parameters of the ego increase – both thanks to the aforementioned tests, and after successful battles, and along with this, new companions are opened. Everyone has their own skill trees and unique features, but the game does not allow you to actively experiment with them.

The fact is that the authors did not seem to think about the balance. Every time a new student joins you or a new skeleton opens, you need to upgrade them from scratch. To do this, you need to buy combat moves – by unlocking any of them, you increase the character’s level by one, and at the same time, all parameters such as health, defense, and attack power grow. Here are just the points necessary for pumping for everyone, but they give them not so much in the story. And the very idea that a level is given for any “skill” forces you not to invest everything in perks of interest, but to spend points only on cheap and not very necessary ones.

Monark: Overview

For each battle, a score is given, and a high score will help you get bonus points for leveling up. When you know what is rewarded in the game and what is fined for, it becomes a little easier to save currency.

Apparently, this is why you can launch additional battles endlessly in the game menu in order to “grind” points and prepare your team for the next story battle. This in itself sounds and plays dreary, plus it’s hard to get rid of the feeling that you are not pumped enough. This is especially true for partner skeletons, for whom it is important not only to be able to buy, but also to dress in quality things. And you can take part in three battles and still not get a chestplate that almost doubles your health pool compared to the current one. The saddest thing is that by the end of the game, the “grind” problem does not disappear – you will constantly be given partners who are not ready for difficult tests.

Monark: Overview

Companion skeletons change appearance depending on the armor they are wearing.

kids vs skeletons

What Monark really succeeded in was combat in a parallel world, although not everything is perfect with them. The fights here are turn-based – first all your heroes make a move, and then the opponents do the same. Instead of normal attacks, the characters use Arts and Authorities – the former “eat” part of their health, and the latter increase the scale of insanity. When the character goes crazy, you will lose control over him, but all his parameters will increase – he will make powerful attacks on nearby opponents. That is, you can take your wards to hell, so that a crazy ally is guaranteed to bludgeon enemies. Only after three moves he will die.

The battles are full of other mechanics. Defer allows you to skip your turn and pass it to another – you can strike with the same character within the same turn. True, the scale of insanity in this case also grows, so you need to be careful. If the hero hit while standing next to a partner, he will perform an “assist” – this applies to both the player’s characters and opponents. Plus, the game has a bonus for an attack in the back – in this case, not only will you deal increased damage, but there will also be no counterattack.

Thanks to “assists” one hit can be enough for the enemy to die.

Monark also solved the problem of missed moves by adding the Awake scale. If you have no one to beat, you can select the Resolve option, and the character will not only remain in place, but will add 25% to the corresponding scale. When it is full, it will not only improve the parameters for a while, but also allow you to use abilities without harm to health and sanity. And along with this, devastating moves will also become available – if, of course, you have already unlocked them in the skill tree.

It turns out exciting tactical battles, and each battle becomes a kind of puzzle – you decide who and in what order to beat, who will make a move first, who will give up his turn to another, who can quickly deal with opponents, and so on. However, these fights also have disadvantages. Firstly, the enemies are monotonous – these are the same skeletons as your hero, only they dress differently. Secondly, artificial intelligence is dumb. Many maps have traps that activate at the end of the turn, and skeletons are not afraid to stand next to them, causing them to bleed or become charmed. Plus, they are in no hurry to approach the player if they are far away, which is why you spend a couple of extra moves to get to them.

Monark: Overview

Moments when you can hurt several enemies at once, do not cease to bring pleasure.

Monark has interesting and fresh ideas, but obviously the team didn’t have a lot of resources. The story itself could have been interesting, but it was greatly stretched, because of which you get tired of the dialogues, and the stereotype spoils the impression. I want to praise the combat system (and there is something for it), but monotonous and stupid enemies do not allow it to open up. If Monark 2 ever comes out, I’d love to see a bug fix, at least so the player isn’t locked in boring hallways and the characters aren’t walking clichés.

Pros: a good attempt to recreate the academy with students, each of which has a backstory; interesting tactical combat system, sometimes making you break your head; funny psychological tests; great intro video.

Cons: lengthy dialogue spoils the impression of the story, which in itself is full of clichés and not very captivating; you don’t get attached to the characters because of how stereotyped they are; a lot of “grind”; boring locations; monotonous and stupid enemies.

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