Cast your mind back to that train wreck of a year that was 2020 and you may remember our PC review of Shiny Shoe’s locomotive themed roguelike deck builder, Monster Train. I was particularly taken with its colourful visuals and fun card drafting gameplay, awarding it a solid 8.5/10 and signing off my review with the thought that perhaps a game like this could be brilliantly suited to a more portable system like the Nintendo Switch. Well, I don’t want to outright say that my particular review swayed Shiny Shoe into this new port to Nintendo’s hybrid machine, but here we are, over a year later and we now have the chance to take the Monster Train with us wherever we damn well please.
Here’s the tl;dr review of the game (for those who can’t be bothered to go read my thorough review from last June) – you take charge of a train hurtling through a barren and frozen Hell, not too long after a war with heaven managed to extinguish its sacred pyre. On the train is your precious cargo, the last remaining shard of Hell’s pyre, and you have to get it home safely to ignite the fires of Satan’s domain. Hot on your heels, though, are the winged forces of heaven who are trying to smash that final shard and destroy Hell forever. The douchebags.
To fight these angelic do-gooders, you need a deck of cards representing the monsters of hell which you can summon into your train for a spot of turn based tower defence sequence combat. On each run you pick two factions from those you’ve managed to unlock, build a basic starting deck with their stock cards and guide your train down the tracks, battling angels, winning new cards, upgrading your existing ones and finding new artefacts and treasures to help you on your way. If you reach the end of the line, hurray! You’ve reignited hell’s fires and saved the day. If you don’t, well, there’s always that one more run isn’t there?
Monster Train on the Switch is exactly what you’d expect – it’s Monster Train. The game always felt like a fantastic fit for the console and this port does not disappoint. Sure it runs at 30fps there’s the occasional slow down when there’s a ton of stuff happening on screen but with the turn based nature of the game this isn’t really a huge issue. It is a shame that there’s no touch controls implemented, but the controller inputs work just fine here, and the biggest bonus of Monster Train being on the Switch is you can take it with you wherever you go. Yes, you can now play Monster Train on a train without lugging a big old laptop with you. Although given we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic we probably wouldn’t advise sticking yourself in a big metal tube with other people unless you really have to just yet.
Not only is Monster Train portable, but the robust suspend feature on the Switch means that it’s easy to just put the console into rest mode after a couple of scraps if you need to do the washing up or feed the cat or something, although the game does save itself mid run so that you can go play something else and come back later (cough, Returnal…)
One bonus that the Switch release has over the other systems is that this is the First Class edition coming with The Last Divinity DLC bundled in. This introduces a new faction to the game, the Wurmkin, Pact Shards, a new type of currency which can be used to increase the risk/reward mechanic of the enemies and bosses in a run, as well as a new final boss to tackle. It’s nice to have new content in the game and coming back to it after several months everything felt both familiar and fresh at the same time.
There’s not really much else to say. This is still the same game I had a great time with last year but now you can take it with you or enjoy it in a pick up and play fashion. For a game like Monster Train that easily makes the Switch game the best version available.