Monster Train... Reviewed!

All aboard, it's time to review the action-packed strategy rogue-like card game... Monster Train!

Fun factor: Don't blow a gasket, but... I never knew that a card game could be this fun. I've played plenty of card games in the past... and no offense to those video games (I seriously enjoy some of them), but I really really like this a lot more. I think that's because of the tower defense element and having a presentation that gives me more than the typical card game. I'm still a sucker for Spades... so I won't go there.

In Monster Train, you aren't just looking at your cards and the cool art on them... your characters are set up in a train with three playable floors. You can see the characters in all their glory along with the various styles of attack, defense, healing, or whatever... in this head to head battle against the antagonists. In this game, it's the forces of Heaven vs your team... the (ummm) champions of Hell.

There's plenty to take in and appreciate about this game and it's not complicated either... it's simple enough so that the learning curve doesn't get in the way of gameplay (that's important).

The tower defense layout is sweet and that's the thing that really did it for me as far as being hooked. So you have the three playable floors, followed by the fourth that contains your Pyre. Your deck will contain a variety of cards for you to take on the forces of Heaven as they storm your Monster Train.

Here is how things play out:

You have time to decide on what tactics and champions you're going to utilize before you end your turn, and then the exchange begins.

If any enemies survive your attacks, they move from the first floor to the 2nd floor, and then you get another chance to defend your Pyre.

The exchange begins again after selecting your next move, and if the forces survive... they move to the 3rd floor. This is your last chance to take them out before they go after your Pyre... which is the last line of defense.

If they make it past the 3rd floor, you have no control over what will happen.

Usually, there will be another set of forces storming your train starting on the first floor, and you will have to hold them off until the boss character is destroyed. If the forces make it to the 4th floor, your (Pyre's) HP will take a hit in a back and forth exchange... until the forces or your Pyre lose.

Tip: When it comes to strategy... Ember is important when it comes to the number of cards you can choose or the ability to choose a more powerful card. You also have a set capacity on each floor, and if each floor has a capacity of 8 and you have 2 monsters on a floor that take up 7 of those capacity points... you'd only be able to place a third if it only takes up 1 capacity point. It's a lot simpler when you actually play the game, so don't worry about being lost in the sauce... trust me, that's why I was able to just jump in so easily.

Making the right moves on the track and building your deck accordingly will help you in the long run. You have over 200 cards to choose from, and while on the track before and after matches... you will have two routes to choose from.

One route might have a Merchant of Steel... which sells unit upgrades, while another route might have a Merchant of Magic... which sells spell upgrades. The Merchant of Trinkets sells artifacts... although I have never come across this merchant, artifacts provide a passive benefit. Artifacts are not something added to your deck... and after selecting the artifact, you're stuck with it.

Make sure that you choose the right track and sacrifice wants for needs. If your Pyre took some serious damage during the last battle and you have access to Pyre remains... it's wise to take the track that gives you access to the Pyre remains instead of one that gives you access to a Hellvent (for example). The Pyre remains... restore 20 health points.

Other things you will see on the Monster Train's routes are:

Herzal's Horde is a random artifact, which you can either accept or decline for 25 pieces of gold instead.

Unstable Vortex allows you to remove two cards from your deck. I rarely dump cards unless they will do more harm than good to my deck... then it's adios!

One of my favorite things to come across on the track is the Hellvents... which allow you to duplicate a card in its current state. So if you maxed out a card... you can duplicate it and have two of those powerful cards in your deck.

Forgotten Boons give you 75 gold pieces.

Concealed Caverns do a variety of things... including the delivery of potential cards from clans you don't have. I got some seriously good cards out of the caverns.

Clan Banner's can also be found on your journey (there are 5 clans). The clan banner's give you a choice between 2 to 3 units... and those banners are based on the primary and allied clans you've chosen.

  • Hellhorned: Rally the aggressive demons of the Scorched plains. overwhelm Seraph with imps and damaging warrior.

  • Awoken: Gather the Awoken of the Wildwood Forest. Hollows and Animus are supported by healing Channelers.

  • Stygian Guard: Draft the support of the ancient Guard of the Stygian Sea. Mystical Sirens and ancient Totems work together to eradicate the Winged from Hell.

  • Umbra: Commune with the Ancient Umbra Shroud. The original residents of Hell mine the Crucible for precious materials to help in the fight against Seraph.

  • Melting Remnant: Recruit the Melting Remains of the Waxen Arches. Melting souls and greedy thugs band together to reclaim hell.

* Each clan has 10 levels to unlock and you can upgrade any card twice.

There is also Dark Forge, which is a stop on your journey that gives you two options to choose from when it comes to your champion.

Even with all this, there is still a lot more to this game when it comes to cards and decisions, so the replay value is definitely high... and that's increased even further with the multiplayer modes. I'll get back to that in a sec, but first... visuals.

Visuals: The game is super fun, and while the visuals aren't hyper-realistic or anything like that... they don't have to be. I get a storybook vibe off the art that also reminds me of Orcs Must Die! (in 2D). The 2D characters are clean and look exactly the same on the field as they do on the cards, except a bit more lively... because they aren't attacking or anything on the cards (Duh of the Day).

Basically... you get a preview of your character on the card before they take action on the field. One of the more lively cards is the Ice Tornado... which is one of my favorites (without giving up my strategy). Even if I love the look of the Ice Tornado card... I would love to see the Ice Tornado in action on the field... which is more so represented by a small ice attack (visually speaking). You still get the damage and everything... but I wouldn't be mad if the eye candy were there (an update is possible if the team cares to make that move in the future).

Replay Value: This game has plenty of replay value to enjoy... whether you're going back to the main single-player game to progress with your deck (via the factions you've chosen), or the multiplayer mode.

Monster Train's developer says that the playthrough is never the same as another and that you'll never play the same deck twice!

The replay value surges in the multiplayer mode which delivers a Hell Rush mode, a Daily Challenge mode, and a Custom Challenges mode.


Hell Rush: Race other players in timed battles. Earn the highest score to win.

Daily Challenge: Play the randomized daily challenge and compete on the global leaderboard.

Custom Challenges: Design your own challenge and share it online.

I've created one specifically for this review, so grab the game and check out "MentalAvenueIdeas".

This is the deeplink from my run - monstertrain://runresult/3443c310-728f-4af8-bcf7-97bebc64a315

Here a run I did in the daily challenges mode. Grab a snack and... press play!
Basically in the daily challenges mode, you're in an area with hundreds of other gamers trying to see who can get the furthest under the circumstances of the challenges presented that particular day. You can also share your run stats by copying the deep link at the end of your run.

By the way, what I also like about the multiplayer is (hmmm)... even if you aren't going head to head you aren't alone because you know that others are on the track as well (or beside it, if they took an L). Jump on Discord or something and chat during your journey.

This is my first 30 minutes on the tracks (CHOO-CHOO!!!!):

Price: Monster Train is a steal at $24.99... and would've been solid at $29.99. It's a genuinely good game that's worth trying out if you'd like to add some variety to your library if you normally stick with FPS's, racing games, etc. You get action... it's just a different type of action led by strategy and tension when it comes to protecting your Pyre.

One thing they could have added was a PvP mode for tournaments. If there were anything I'd add it would be that... to send the game skyrocketing when it comes to replay value. I'd love to see it in a tournament, and they still have the ability to update it for PvP action... they'd merely have to change up the Pyre room.

Overall, I had a blast with this game. Monster Train is packed with fun factor, I don't mind the music... and it's addicting. I want to see how far I can get or how high I can rank by switching up my strategies and adapting to situations based on the hand I'm dealt. Anyway, Monster Train is available now, check out the score below and... game on! Oh yeah, before I go... I think the game would do well on the Nintendo Switch also.

Fun Factor 5

Replay Value 5

Visuals 4

Price 5

4.75 out of 5 Cool Points