In 2016, Capcom released Monster Hunter Stories on Nintendo 3DS, a JRPG using elements of the editor Monster hunter franchise. Five years later, Capcom delivered a sequel to PC and Nintendo Switch. While both games are set in the same world and feature connective tissue, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin offers an experience that has hardly any connection to the first game, making it an RPG that any fan of the genre can jump into without prior knowledge. The game isn’t perfect, but for the most part it’s an RPG worth the time and investment.
Unlike the traditional Monster hunter Games, Monster Hunter Stories 2 places players in the role of a young horseman, as opposed to a hunter. Riders find and hatch eggs to befriend the Monsties. These Monsties then participate in battles alongside the player and can also be ridden in the game overworld. Different Monsties have advantages over others; some can climb vines, others are better suited for traveling in cold weather, etc. It’s easy to switch between them, but I found myself doing it infrequently, mostly using a particular Monstie throughout the campaign. The game’s Rite of Channeling allows players to add genes from certain Monsties to others, which made it easier for me to rely on one, rather than multiple. It fits my playstyle a bit better, but those who really want to dive into the monster catching aspect will find that there are plenty of opportunities to use and hunt down new Monsties.
Like most traditional RPGs, Monster Hunter Stories 2 uses a turn-based combat system. Throughout the adventure, the player character and his partner Monstie will face other monsters found on the map. Turn-based battles in most RPGs tend to be slower, but Capcom counteracts this with an option to double or triple the speed of the battle with the push of a button. The option can be very useful at times, but I often found myself mostly sticking with the normal setting. As it stands, combat can actually be pretty quick and there are a lot of things to focus on throughout each battle.
During battle, the player controls their character, while the Monstie selects their own attacks. The two characters have separate life gauges, as well as three shared hearts. When the player’s or Monstie’s life gauge is depleted, one of the hearts is lost, and when all three are gone, the player is sent back to the town or village from which they last left. The system places a strong emphasis on teamwork, as players are forced to make decisions that will keep both characters in battle; it also adds a fair amount of challenge. I have often found my player character to feel undernourished, requiring a significant amount of healing items with each battle. Fortunately, the player and their Monstie are rarely alone, as the game will usually see you paired with a different “buddy” and their Monstie partner. These buddies tend to be more experienced Riders, capable of doing a lot more damage.
If there is a noticeable problem that Monster Hunter Stories 2 suffers is the fact that the tasks of the game can become a bit monotonous. Sometimes it will seem that the plot starts to prepare, and then it will be interrupted as you are sent to handle various tasks. This cycle of being sent on a mission, returning to the current base city, and starting all over again can get a little tiring. Players can break up the monotony by researching side quests, researching new Monstie Eggs, or researching new weapons and armor to craft, but those just looking to hang out with the main quest might get a little fed up with the cycle.
The sound in the game is generally loud. Monster Hunter Stories 2 has a number of memorable tracks that are sure to get stuck in the mind of the player. The voice acting, however, is likely to turn out to be a bit more confrontational. I found it to be pretty good, with a few questionable decisions including the game’s silent protagonist. Monster Hunter Stories 2 isn’t the first game to rely on a silent hero, but I felt like it wasn’t needed here. To bypass this silent track, the game offers a partner Felyne named Navirou. A returning character from the first game, Navirou essentially acts in place of the character’s voice, leading to conversations with other characters and speaking more than enough for both of you. Navirou is also comic relief, and can quickly alternate between big and squeaky, sometimes in the middle of a sentence. I enjoyed the character most of the time, although it’s not hard to imagine others getting angry.
Good RPGs give players a lot of content to enjoy, and Monster Hunter Stories 2 does just that. Want to stick mostly to the main game? It is very good. Want to spend a lot more time in monster lairs recruiting new Monsties or finding new materials to craft? You can do this too. It is not hard to imagine players getting carried away and spending a lot of hours with this game.
Graphically, Monster Hunter Stories 2 is probably one of the nicest third-party games on Switch. The combat animations are vibrant and exciting, and the monsters themselves look great. I noticed that this is one of the Switch games that looks a bit better to play docked compared to handheld mode. It’s not a giant leap, but I found it noticeable.
For fans of the RPG genre, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is an especially pleasant experience. Sometimes the structure of the mission can drag, and some players are bound to find Navirou a little irritating. However, the highlights of the game definitely make up for the slower moments. It’s a really solid RPG that gives the player the freedom to go at their own pace. It also has a fun combat system and charming story moments. For those who can look past its slight stumbles, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin should have a lot of appeal, no matter how familiar the player is with the franchise.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin releases July 9 for Nintendo Switch and PC. The game has been provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review, and it has been reviewed on a Nintendo Switch base model.