Not every game has to have a AAA budget or photorealistic graphics to offer something intriguing. A good example? Seduction: A Monk’s Fate, a side-scrolling puzzler by KOEX Studio, a single dev out of Singapore. In this title, you assume the role of a Buddhist monk attempting to cleanse your monastery from the temptations of a malevolent deity.
Being primarily developed by one person, the game carries with it many obvious limitations: animations are sparse, there’s no voice acting, and the music is more a collection of stings than a proper score. But working without many of the expected frills means greater care must go into other areas of the game. The story is sufficient, the puzzles are surprisingly clever, and the title never tries to overreach.
The biggest triumph is by far the art direction. While character models look generally underwhelming, the environment design is exceptional. Making great use of colour, and surprisingly grotesque imagery, the locales you have to walk through are far and away the game’s highlight. There’s a surprising amount of care packed into these backdrops, where the longer you stare at them, the more details you’ll begin to notice, such as skeletons sneakily patterned into the wall.
Unfortunately, the transitions between the various locations can feel a little abrupt, as is evidenced by one sequence where you'll have to outrun a giant spider. Other gameplay issues occur, too, like the hitboxes on environmental hazards and enemies sometimes won’t line up, resulting in cheap deaths. You’ll never lose more than a minute from these moments, but it’s still a nuisance. Despite these irritations, the more traditional gameplay elements are integrated with classic point-and-click object puzzles. The inclusion of dodging adds a degree of engagement that the title would otherwise be lacking and helps make the one hour – yes, one hour – runtime feel rewarding.
While you shouldn’t expect it to linger in the mind to the same degree as comparable titles like Home, Seduction: A Monk’s Fate offers a one-sitting experience at a reasonable price, while getting just enough right to make it worth the low price of entry.