Here's the elevator pitch for Monster Sanctuary: It's like Pokémon, but it's structured like a Metroidvania. It boasts a reasonably large map of interconnected corridors and rooms, complete with some light puzzle and platforming elements. The world itself is a bit unremarkable, but it's the in-depth and addictive gameplay that holds Monster Sanctuary together.
As a Keeper, you're tasked with taming and training the land's many monsters, and it's this process that makes the game so moreish. Each creature has its own elemental strengths and weaknesses, as well as its own set of attacks and unique skill trees. You can even equip your creatures with weapons and accessories, customising their stats to suit your needs.
With that in mind, building a cohesive team of beasts is really the core goal of Monster Sanctuary. Because battles are three-on-three, there's a need to properly balance your team. Some monsters are best utilised as pure damage-dealers, while others might be better suited to supporting your party with heals or buffs. There are actually a lot of aspects to consider, and each monster's varied skill trees allow you to adapt your favourite beasts to different roles. The possibilities are almost endless.
The battles themselves are turn based, and fundamentally, they're quite simple. The game does a great job of easing you in and teaching you the basics, before unleashing some tougher fights later on that require a more strategic approach. There's also an option to take your team online and throw down with other players, but during the review period, we couldn't find any opponents.
Overall, Monster Sanctuary is a delight. Exploring the interconnected world with your team and discovering cool new monsters is always fun, but it's the process of developing your favourite companions that makes the game so hard to put down.