Monstrum crafts a genuinely frightening game of procedurally generated hide and seek. As you awaken on a derelict cargo ship and explore its halls, it quickly becomes apparent something else is there with you. Monstrum falls under the run-and-hide genre of horror titles, giving you relatively little with which to defend yourself. You have means of slowing down the beasts, but that’s it. Your best bet is to outsmart them, drawing them away from key areas with noise using improvised devices. Make sure you know which of the three creatures you’re dealing with on a given run; the spooky Fiend, the relentless Brute, or the sneaky Hunter. Each stalks you in unique ways, which helps keep things surprisingly fresh after many failed attempts.
Outside of moments when the monsters are especially close, your biggest enemy is the ship itself. Steam billows through cracked pipes, the floor gives way, and every room feels like it’s a mile from the next. Procedural generation mixes up where these things are, and the hallways are arranged with reckless abandon, making it nigh impossible to truly get your bearings. Environments are all rather drab, so it can be easy to get lost, but this actually adds to the game. Important rooms, like the engine room, and all your escape points, are anchored in place. This consistency of key elements is the reason the procedural generation really shines. You get a checklist of items to either fix or recover for each escape route, and then once you return, at least you know your endpoint will always be in the same place.
While the game’s not terribly impressive visually, some aspects of this elevate the game. The draw distance is laughably small, shrouding the game in fog at all times, heightening the experience. And the monster AI isn’t terribly robust, but everything is fair; any time we died it felt more like user error. Learning the rules of the ship is the key to surviving. When to fix a broken pipe, when to hide, when to run. As you die over and over, all these rules craft you into a more skilled player and make a more enjoyable experience.