Monster Camp is the sequel to the much-adored Monster Prom, a hilarious dating sim where the goal is to win your summer love’s heart before the meteor shower. You and up to three friends are given a few turns to grow your stats, make great impressions, and go on wild adventures to (hopefully) not get rejected by the monster of your choosing.
Somehow, Beautiful Glitch Studios made a game even bigger and better than Monster Prom, which I did not know was possible. Monster Camp keeps the studio’s record of darkly hilarious and outlandishly creative writing while expanding the Monster universe with new and reimagined characters, tons of secret endings, and menus upon menus of collectibles, special events, and bizarre storylines to uncover. It’s a great big camp out there and there are plenty of monsters in the lake if you catch my drift.
There are six potential love interests, with a few returning faces from Monster Prom as well as a few new ones. Some of the love interests are actually side characters from the original game, giving you a whole new look at characters you thought you knew. You still have the same four main avatars to choose from, the same stats to manage, and a very similar system to follow.
Each day you choose a location to go to where you’ll hopefully improve a certain stat like charm, smarts, or boldness, after which you’ll have a wild run-in with the monster you talked to first on the bus. And when I say wild, I mean wild.
Even though most of the visuals of the game are 2D character drawings and cartoon polaroid pictures, the writing brings every detail to life and the dialogue is utterly gorgeous. This is not just another boring visual novel. Monster Camp utilizes everything it has and even plays with the fact that almost everything is left up to your imagination- allowing the most bizarre things to happen off-camera. There are murder investigations, robot uprisings, hermit crab wrestling, other dimensions, evil villains, worlds to save, meteors to stop, and robot parents to find- and those are just some of the wacky adventures my friends and I went on in one playthrough. These run-ins are honestly the meat of the game and where Monster Camp reveals much of its character and underlying messages.
While many of the monsters are exaggerated stereotypes of different kinds of young adults, these adventures show you how they are really just people with layers and an appetite for a good time. The sheer amount of creativity, complexity, and charm that goes into these sequences cannot be overstated. You get the feeling the writers sat in a room and thought of every funny cross-over, reference, moment, or potential thing gone wrong and said, “So how do we make sure that happens?” And then they did- and you and your friends are laughing your heads off while two dudes make jelly beards, singing a Disney villain-esque song or two characters go on a Parent Trap-style search for a robot’s “lost” parents, referencing nearly every iconic ‘80s or ‘90s movie on the way.
It’s in this bizarreness that you almost forget you’re there to try to date someone at all. The game’s narrator reminds you that you are, but these segments make the dating portion seem like only part of the masterpiece you’re experiencing. A lot of Monster Camp’s, and Monster Prom’s, themes and messaging have to do with growing up, being young and unafraid, and willing to do wild things to probably end up getting rejected. Winning over your love in both games is brutally hard and almost unfair, but that’s kind of the point. Monster Camp would rather you chase a wild storyline than look up a walkthrough to get your dream date. That’s why there’s so much thought and love poured into every element of the game, from the events to the writing to the items, so that even if you get rejected at the end, you had a great time.
Another great feature both Monster Camp and Monster Prom have is multiplayer, which is only played with more in Monster Camp. They keep the random questions game to decide whose turn it is, but they added in new mechanics like potions you have to pick from, spreading rumors at the campfire or even the ability to date each other that only brings the game more to life. You can play Monster Camp alone and have an amazing time, but playing with friends is a million times better and works great over Discord or Zoom. You only need one person to own the game and if it’s local multiplayer, you can change controllers, or opt to just share one controller. This also adds more competition for the love interests and even more chances to go on insane adventures as you all try to win different monster’s affections.
The only content warning for Monster Camp is that it is fully and truly the dark, dirty humor of a group of young adults. If you change nothing about the game, there’s plenty of swearing, sexual references, and potentially bothersome situations. While it’s rare that you do anything sexual with one of the characters (unless it’s a secret ending), or that the game condones deviant behavior, just be warned. However, Monster Camp added the glorious feature of being able to filter your experience to bring it down to a much more PG level. In the settings, you can alter several specific trigger points like sexual references, body humor, language, drug references, hateful behavior, etc. While this may not be necessary for everyone, the fact that the makers of Monster Camp thought to include this feature speaks to their thoughtfulness and the complexity of the game’s writing that it can vary so specifically to your preferences. And, of course, there’s a random option right underneath asking how sexy you want some random character’s outfit to be- just to get you intrigued again and remind you that yes, you are playing a ridiculously glorious game.
Overall, Monster Camp is right up there with Monster Prom, only building on what was already an amazing formula for a hilarious, memorable, and poignant game about the madness that is young adulthood. It’s going to be a staple of my game nights and a game I come back to whenever I just want to laugh at something utterly bizarre and beautiful.