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Monster Prom: Second Term Review

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Buying DLC these days presents you with the same predicament as buying an expansion pack way back when games actually came in boxes from stores. It could end up essentially being an entire game set in the same world, like the Age of Empires series always did, or it could end up being a sort of disappointing fragment of a game that leaves you wanting, like the Half-Life series unfortunately did. (Yeah, we’re still waiting for that third game, Valve.) Only, with modern DLC, you could also just end up with some new outfits for your characters and no real game substance at all. So the best you can hope for is a DLC that gives you more of what you liked from the core game. It’s much rarer to see DLC that not only satisfies, but actually improves the game. That’s why Monster Prom: Second Term is a bit of a pleasant surprise.

Second Term is a seamless addition to the core game.

The Second Term DLC is weaved into the vanilla version so as to best give you more of the exact same material. The narrative justification is that first term already took place, but there’s still time before prom, so the pressure’s on to get a date. There’s no awkward patch job to explain this DLC in the story; it simply fits in and serves its intended purpose perfectly.

That means your enjoyment of this DLC is closely tied to the original Monster Prom. In case you haven’t played it, it’s a dating simulator with an interesting premise: You are all conveniently adult-aged young monsters at a monster high school and you need to find a date for prom. The concept is wacky, the humor is crass and over-the-top, and the artwork is skillful yet cartoony.

Like many dating simulators, the game relies on text to tell the story, so there’s a heavy burden put on the writing. Monster Prom’s writing delivers in some areas, but is lacking in others. All the reading can get a little boring and lengthy, but it’s generally entertaining. The writing tries a little too hard to be funny, but you still find yourself laughing at it. The characters are all built around a single personality trait, but that makes them an eclectic and interesting group at the very least.

The mechanics are fun, but they clash a little with the narrative.

The reason why Polly the ghost only cares about drugs, sex, and fun, or why Damien just wants to light things on fire, is because of the stat system. Where other dating sims might just keep track of who likes you through your dialogue choices, in Monster Prom you can work on specific stats. So, if you want to date Polly, you work on increasing your Fun stat.

But doing things this way breaks the immersion a little. Rather than concentrating on what would make a certain character like you in the context of a conversation, you often find yourself scanning for answers that will make you look good according to your stats.

Second Semester fixes that problem.

In Second Semester, there isn’t much difference from the core game on the surface — just a couple new characters and maybe an item or two — but when you start checking them out, you begin to see all new character arcs and plotlines emerge.

Second Term feels much more immersive because, while the stats are still there, the writing has grown more into its own. It’s more consistently funny, it develops the world of the monster high school more, and there are meaningful beginnings, middles, and ends to your relationships. There are even points at which the game breaks the fourth wall to scold you if you’re making mistakes that are clearly driven by stat chasing. But this sort of meta humor has its downsides, too.

The meta jokes get a little lampshadey.

Some of the meta jokes in Monster Prom are legitimately funny, but there are other areas where they seem to be a crutch. One huge part of this is the Narrator character. His blank grey face shows up whenever he’s narrating things that happen to you, and this often comes in the form of something that breaks the fourth wall like, “You get +2 Charm.”

Doing it in this way is a little bit dissatisfying, because the joke is essentially, “You know, and we know, that we couldn’t think of a more creative way to tell this part of the story.” On the one hand, the parts that are smoothed over using this method are acceptable as a player — I get that it’s just more convenient to have a narrator tell me what’s going on. On the other hand, this kind of thing adds to the feeling that the stats are Immersion-Breaking.™

In other words, if you liked Monster Prom, you’ll like Second Term more.

Whether you get this DLC all depends on what you’re looking for from your Monster Prom. It’s fun to play alone, and it’s even more of a party with friends, but you almost have to be a fan of the dating sim genre or a heavy reader to really get into the experience.

If you haven’t played the original, buy that first and then see if you want the DLC. Because the surface-level experience is the same across both versions. But if you played Monster Prom to collect all the endings, the secret characters, and to know everything about everyone at your monster high school, you should definitely get the DLC. It’s just more (much more) of every single one of those things.

While the core game isn’t perfect, Second Term is the perfect follow-up. Maybe the one thing that’s not an improvement over the original is lengthier playthroughs, due to the fact that you have to read a lot more. But hey, some people see that as valuable added content.

6

The Verdict: Good

Monster Prom: Second Term is more of everything that was good from the core game. More characters, more plotlines, and more satisfying story. Fans of the original will like this one, but newcomers might want to try the core game first.

Nicholas Barkdull
Written by
Tuesday, 12 March 2019 05:17
Published in Strategy

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Nic is a writer and narrative designer with a PhD in Social Research and Cultural Studies. He thinks real time strategy games are still a valid form of e-sport, that true RPGs should be turn-based (with huge casts of characters), and that AAA games have a long way to go before they earn back our trust. He is the Lead Writer for Pathea Games's My Time at Sandrock, and his work can be seen in Playboy, South China Morning Post, The Daily Beast, and many other places.

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