With prom season right around the corner, now is the perfect time to snag that date — or, in the case of Monster Prom, let them snag you. A landmark for the genre, Monster Prom is the first ever competitive local multiplayer dating sim, and it includes a beastly twist. Your friends, significant other, or family will be navigating the wondrous journey to prom. Will it be memorable evening or a moment of utter despair?
Developed by the indie team Beautiful Glitch, Monster Prom has players meet with six potential suitors. Each of the monsters has a unique personality and style of their own. Interactions with the monsters happen at locations throughout the school campus. Conversations lead to events and each event comes with a choice, the result of which can either raise your chances to score a date or crush your dreams.
Traditionally, dating sims feature a white cis-male who has to use his charm and good looks to win over a charming woman. That has made dating sims a gated community, where you there to win over women so they'll fawn all over you. That just isn't the case here. Freedom of choice plays a big part in Monster Prom. Monsters don't like boys or girls, they like monsters.
Each playable character can be selected with the choice of a name and pronoun, letting the players date any monster they please. Maybe a mermaid strikes your fancy, or perhaps you have a thing for the devil. Whatever your heart desires, but be warned: these monsters aren't particularly easy to woo. Failing to get the date can make future games that much more difficult. Rejection is a fundamental element of the Monster Prom, just like real life.
A Ticket for One
When the journey to prom begins, players are given a series of questions. Depending on how they answer the questions, points will be given points to one of six categories. These categories each lend themselves to particular monster, so if there is one you are hoping to date, you better be raising the stats in the right subject.
Continuing to raise points in a particular area of expertise is the key to success, so you'll need to visit the library if upgrading smarts is your target. Other locations give rewards in other categories. There is only so much time available before prom, so each encounter holds a lot of weight. Players can choose whether they have time for a short game or long game from the get-go, making Monster Prom perfect for a quick laugh or a more complex game. In a full game, not only is there more time to get to know a monster, but using in-game currency, players can purchase items to uniquely modify their experience, no additional funds needed.
If things are going sour with your potential mate, there's plenty of opportunity to have a memorable prom season. Remember when I mentioned playing with family? I meant family that can stomach some wonderfully crude humor. Some of wholesome choices include having an orgy in the cafeteria or searching the internet for "blood magic to guarantee prom queen victory over basic bitches to maintain social status." Even if you don't eventually get that prom date, chances are you'll have a blast trying.
At the heart of Monster Prom is the multiplayer feature. Up to four players can participate in the race to win a date, but only the most cunning will be successful. This is a massive change for dating sim rules and adds some additional layers of strategy and cruelty to the proceedings.
Multiplayer can be done locally, by sharing a remote between friends or each having their own. Online play will also be available by Thursday's launch, but wasn't available during my time with the game. Thankfully, Monster Prom lends itself wonderfully to the idea of screen sharing. Through either Steam or a streaming site like Twitch, players can join in the fun by voicing their selections in a chat, allowing for endless player opportunities. This idea is well received for the Jackbox series of games and will likely turn Monster Prom into having a good streaming footprint.
One of the biggest differences comes from challenges at the end of each game segment. The winner of the event gets to go first on the next turn. This is important since only one player can visit a specific place during the next turn. If more than one player has to meet up with their potential prom date, that can lead to some interesting problems. The challenges mostly have players shouting out random nonsense and then having to vote on the winner. For instance, one such event has players shout out an object. The game then has the players vote on how likely it would be for a 21st-century genie to be found in the selected object. This kind of group judgment has become commonplace in card games, like Cards Against Humanity, that can either be truthful answers or the funniest.
The other big gameplay difference comes from weekly events. During the course of a game, a random player will stumble upon an event with some of the eligible monsters. Often, the player selected will be given two choices: to help a player or sabotaging the competition's chances. There is nothing like being presented with the fate of another player and lying about that players' sexual prowess.
Monster Prom has the humor and charm to win over a lot of potential fans. Never before has a dating sim been meshed so perfectly with a multiplayer component. With its eclectic group of monsters, hilarious dialog, and over 20 endings there will certainly be extended play sessions — whether you end up being able to say the same for your prom night is up to you.