Nerdook. The one-man game developer responsible for a massive total of forty Flash games on Kongregate. Along with Nitrome, he is one of the most well-known flash game developers to grace the Internet, able to bring something completely new to the table with each of his subsequent releases. Sadly, Nerdook has ceased making Flash games for a while now and instead developed his time to making full releases for Steam. Nevertheless, I simply couldn’t give this guy a miss. Each of his games is radically different from the other, a new experiment testing the limits of what can be done with Adobe Flash. Because of this, it was quite difficult at first to select one of his games to review due to the sheer amount and the varying genres, but eventually I decided on one I’d never played before: Monster Legions. Strategy games have never really been my thing so it’s no surprise that this one slipped under my radar. Never having played it before however, is an advantage. I’ll be free from bias and nostalgia and be able to give you as accurate a review as possible from my first thoughts. Without further ado, let’s take a look at Monster Legions!
Overall, the gameplay in Monster Legions is a simple as it gets for strategy games. You start with a general who doesn’t cost reinforcement points to respawn. Reinforcement points are used up to revive a unit when they fall in battle. When you reach zero reinforcement points and all your units are killed, it’s game over. Every fifteen seconds up until the timer reaches zero, you draw three cards representing a unit and choose one to deploy. At first, the cards are pretty straightforward. You have your ranged archer, fast knight, defensive spearman and jack-of-all-trades swordsman. As you get further into the game however, you’ll get much more complex units; siege towers, assassins and even monsters such as dragons. Most of the strategy comes before the battle where you try and build a powerful and versatile deck by replacing cards that have outlived their usefulness with new better cards that you either buy with gold or receive after winning a battle.
On top of this, every now and then you’ll get to pick from one of three skills to give you that extra edge in battle. They each do different things but it’s clear that some are much better than others. For example, there is a skill that increases your units attack and movement speed for a brief while. Compare this with another skills that picks a random unit from both sides and instantly kills them. Why would you ever want to pick that skill? It’s a complete gamble and even if it proves useful, it’s still harming your army at the same time. There are also castles which you can attack to get the fight over with fast but the defences it has dissuade you from trying to take them and I often found myself trying to stay as far away from them as possible. Late in the game, your general is also near useless, significantly weaker than the rest of your forces. It isn’t too much of a problem as your general doesn’t use up reinforcement points, but I still feel that more could of been done to make the general a more fundamental part of the game.
There isn’t that much level variety either. There are five battles in the game with four of them being mostly the same except that the enemy starts with more reinforcement points. The fifth battle is where the most fun is to be had. Five bosses face you at the end of your campaign though you need to defeat four of them before you can fight the fifth one: The Beast. You can fight the other four bosses in any order you want however and however many times you like. They are each based on one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and each have a different quirk to their battle. Death gains copies of your dead units, Pestilence causes constant pressure with its poison, Famine gets an army of skeleton warriors and War has a whole army of specialist units. It’s nice that you get to pick your own poison but you have to go through the four prior battles all over again to get another chance to fight one of the bosses.
Finally, Monster Legions makes use of several online features. The one that most pleased me was the data transfer. This allows you to use a code to access your save file on other computers. Unfortunately, it’s limited in what exactly it transfers. You can transfer your deck but all your progress in achievements, gold and boss defeats will not be transferred. The other online feature is the ability to share your deck with the world and fight other people’s decks to test your strategic skills. It’s a sort of multiplayer that makes for a bit of extra replayability after you complete the main game. I personally didn’t use it much, but I’m sure plenty of people will find a lot of fun and challenge in this.
In conclusion, although Monster Legions isn’t one of Nerdook’s strongest games, at least in my opinion, it’s still a strong title on the site as a whole. The combination of deck building and real-time strategy make it unlike any other game on Kongregate and for that reason, it’s at least worth a look. Those who haven’t had a taste of Nerdook’s creative genius yet will find a wonderfully innovative Flash game that strays just far enough from the norm without alienating the player too much. If you’re looking for something a little different with elements of strategy and deck-building then this may just be the game for you.
- Nerdook Art Style
- Data transfer
- Multiple bosses
- Variety of cards and units
- Fair difficulty curve
- No point taking castles
- Some skills are useless compared to others
- Data transfer only transfers your deck
- General becomes useless late game
- One, grating music track
Play the game for free here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/nerdook/monster-legions