Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook from NIS America mixes a bunch of genres in a pot and lets it simmer slowly. Learn more in our Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook review!
Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook from NIS America mixes a bunch of genres in a pot and lets it simmer slowly. It combines a survival game with an SRPG and cooking as you explore each area to gather enough resources to keep the gameplay cycle going. Every single thing you find could make a difference. Your party needs to stay alive, so you’ll have to eat. What better option is there than the meat of the monsters you defeat?
The group of adventurers will need to do whatever it takes to survive once they plunge into the depths of the dungeons, which will sometimes include devouring a foe right on the battlefield before it’s too late! But before you’re that far into this journey, the first step will be to create the character that will represent you! First, you pick from one of the starting templates and choose its name, gender, face, hair, accessory, and height. You can also pick its class.
Selecting a class is an important part of the equation when playing Monster Menu. Since this will affect its base stats for hit points – a.k.a. HP – as well as for attack, defense, magic attack, magic defense, speed, and luck. It will also affect a character’s resistance to poison, paralysis, confusion, sleep, and madness. It will also determine the values for move, jump, throw, critical, counter, and carry.
As for the classes you can choose from, they include the Lancer, which has a decent range since it makes great use of spears right away and can also use magic when advanced. There’s the Archer, which can attack from a safer distance to compensate for its weaker defense stat. A Mage can use elemental magic with powerful attacks that might lack range but that can certainly pack a punch. A thief is also a viable option since it’s a faster character with the highest range of movement in the group, and it has access to swords and bows. Then we have the barbarian, a hulking tank that can use its bare fists to deal a world of hurt as it makes the most of its very high HP – even if defense is not its strongest suit.
A chef could be very useful in a game like Monster Menu since it excels at cooking, making it an excellent healer for the group. Do keep in mind that most of its other stats suck! If you want to challenge yourself, you could go with the Jobless, who has low HP, low values for all base stats, and a considerable weakness to all ailments. An adventurer would help to balance things out since it has a lot of movement, is good with swords and bows, and has decent starting stats. The Swordman excels at using swords, has high defense, good HP, and can carry a good bit of weight. The last option is the berserker, which favors attack while having low values for all other stats, with the exception being HP. It can make the most of axes but doesn’t have a knack for magic.
Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook can be played in one of four difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Nightmare. Each one will have an effect on one of six different parameters, with the challenge growing at a steady pace as you move from one to the other. Said parameters are enemy growth rate, calories and water used, damage received when hungry or dehydrated, EXP multiplier, rate off strong and unique enemies, and rate for skills assigned to equipment.
As expected, in Easy, your characters will get to earn more EXP, use fewer resources to stay healthy, and receive less damage when hungry or dehydrated when playing on Easy. In Nightmare, every mistake will hurt you considerably since the EXP multiplier is considerably lower than in Easy, while damage received when hungry or dehydrated jumps from 1% to 15%! The good news is that you can change the difficulty setting in-game if you feel that the game is too much of a walk in the park or if going with Nightmare feels like a mistake, and you want to dial things back a bit.
As you explore each area, you’ll have to scavenge by approaching shiny objects and interacting with them with the A button. The items you obtain can be used back at your camp to craft some useful tools for your adventure. For crafting, you’ll select up to five materials and see what happens. You can also collect recipes that can be used to auto-select crafting items. What can you craft? Since you’ll be doing a lot of cooking, crafting a frying pan to grill or fry food or a pot to stew would be solid choices. You can also craft bait to lure monsters or traps to catch small animals. Maybe you should craft some arrows to use with bows?
Cooking will be a must to stay alive. Preparing a ton of dishes – even if sometimes their quality can leave a lot to be desired – will at least allow you to have dishes that can heal wounds, provide a good source of calories, satiating your thirst while also having an effect on your happiness and that of the party members that eat a meal. Some of the more elaborate meals of a higher quality will also provide a character with a boost to their defense, healing factor, speed, etc.
While out on an expedition, you also need to be wary of any wandering monsters. If you come into contact with them, then combat will be initiated. Once in battle, you’ll move a character with the left analog stick or the D-Pad, jumping with the B button as needed so that you can position it just right to gain the upper hand. Use regular attacks to deal a steady amount of damage, or use a powerful skill to turn the tide of battle.
As you defeat enemies and scavenge their corpses, you’ll be able to obtain shards. These can be spent at altars to have a curse or two thrown your way. While the word curse usually carries a negative connotation, you should be aware of how some curses could prove to be beneficial for your run. And yes, there will be plenty of bad curses that will hinder your progress.
Defeat enemies within a dungeon, and each of your party members will gain experience points. Once a character has obtained enough, it will be able to level up. Doing this will reward that character with a boost to some of its stats, which will make it easier to survive as you move deeper into the dungeon. And while leveling up is important, equipping more powerful weapons and armor for each character is just as crucial.
There’s also an in-game achievements system with many objectives for you to work on. It mimics the trophy list you’d be working on completing if you were to play the PlayStation version of the game. These include eating the flesh of a corpse early in the game, crafting an item, getting some rest, activating a curse at an altar, or devouring a monster while in battle. There are several objectives to complete, but you’ll have to play the game to find out what the rest are!
Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook gives us a mix of genres on Nintendo Switch. It’s an SRPG with survival elements and some cooking to boot. Dive into the dungeon and try to survive for as long as possible as you collect as many resources as you can along the way to craft new items, find new equipment to boost your stats, and try to find out what is really going on. Return to base, and your team members will go back to being level 1 before you do it all over again. Because of this, the gameplay loop is not going to be for everyone. Monster Menu is out next week on Nintendo Switch on May 23 for $49.99. There’s also some free DLC to consider, which will allow you to add extra recipes to make.
This Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by NIS America.