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Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook – Review

Written by Charlie Norris

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Monster Menu The Scavenger's Cook Book

I love seeing food in games. It always amazes me how the developers can make something that isn’t real, look so delectable. Each dish I see looks better than the last, but sometimes, it can go the other way, and the food looks atrocious, whether this is because the graphics aren’t the best or the food is meant to look disgusting, like Monster Menu: The Cookbook Scavenger, a turn-based roguelike about cooking monsters to survive.  

Story 

Monster Menu the Cookbook’s Scavenger, follows an adventurer lost in an unknown dungeon. With no food or water on the adventurer, they do what any adventurer that’s lost does and looks for a way out. While exploring the dungeon, our adventurer finds the corpse of a dead monster. Desperate as they are, they do the unthinkable and eat the beast. Surprisingly, the monster actually tastes good; who would have thought? After enjoying the monster, our adventurer faints and finds themselves at an abandoned campsite, having survived what could have been food poisoning. With their belly full, the adventurer sets out to explore the dungeon once more. 

As they leave the campsite, they find an abundance of monsters to fight and eat. As our lone adventurer soon finds out, things aren’t easy when you are alone. And that’s when, out of nowhere, three other adventurers find themselves at the campsite. Now it is a party with three other adventurers. 

Monster Menu: The Scavenger's Cookbook - Review

Gameplay 

When we first start Monster Menu, the player is introduced to eight different character archetypes they can choose from. Each archetype can be lightly customised, like changing their hair, skin colour and a few other tidbits; nothing too major. When the character has finally been selected and customised, the game officially starts. With our selected character, we go through the first few scenes, eat the dead monster, end up at camp, and then go through the dungeon as one character until we get to the second floor and are killed straight away. Once that happens, the player is introduced to three other characters (the rest of your team), which, in the same way as the first character, are chosen from the left-over characters and, in the same way, can be customised to your heart’s content (with reason).  

Now that we finally have a full team, this will be it; that’s your team for the rest of the game, however long you play it for. There are no extra characters to find or anything. With your full team ready, there is only one thing to do: to go exploring the dungeon, and finding a way out. Before leaving the campsite, players can equip weapons, make food and go to sleep; all of this is important, but, at the moment, it doesn’t matter as it is your first outing.  

When you are finally ready to explore, your team enters the dungeon. In the dungeons, the player will find monsters that they will need to fight, treasure chests, resources, and special statues that give positive or negative bonuses to the player. 

Monster Menu: The Scavenger's Cookbook - Review

Combat in Monster Menu

In Monster Menu, the combat is turn-based, meaning players take turns with each character attacking the enemies. Exploring as the first character made, players can run into monsters that roam each dungeon floor. When the character or the monster bumps into each other, it initiates the combat phase. If there are other monsters around, they will also join the fray. Once combat has been initiated, this can go in a few ways. Either it is your advantage if you sneaked up to the monster, their advantage if they surprised you, or in the most likely case, no advantage as you both meet face. When it’s your advantage, all your characters attack first; theirs they attack first and finally random attack phase depending on certain stats. Sometimes it is one of your characters; sometimes, it is the enemy; it really depends.  

In the battle phase, besides just attacking enemies, the player can sometimes pull off a special link attack where two or more of the characters team up and attack an enemy, usually killing them if they are a weak enemy. Characters can also use powers and skill attacks depending on their class, like the mage-type class using powers. Although Monster Menu gets interesting when there are more than a few enemies in combat, and the player kills one, that enemy stays on the battlefield. If you move up to that enemy with one of your characters, you can devour the dead enemy (you can also eat dead teammates if that is your thing). Yes, that’s right, you can eat the enemy (or teammate) in all its glory and regain health in battle.

It is the perfect way to heal while in battle, especially when it comes to the harder battles, where there is a chance you can die and be sent back to the campsite with your levels reset to 1, but on the plus side, you do keep all your weapons and resources, just not that level.  

Monster Menu: The Scavenger's Cookbook - Review

MMM Foood 

There are two ways you and your team can go back to the campsite. Either your main character dies or before going to the next floor in the dungeon. If it’s the former, you go back and enter the dungeon; if it is the latter, then this is where the game shows its real strategy. Every time the player clears a floor, they can go back to the campsite (something I always recommend). Returning to the campsite, the player has the opportunity to heal each team member and make food for them.

Cooking food doesn’t just heal characters; it also replenishes their other stats like happiness, calories and hydration, and in some cases, even gives them new skills for their upcoming battles. To cook dishes, the player needs to find ingredients that are found from the monsters you defeat. While food may not be that great when it comes to healing health, it is good for everything else. The only downside is the food that is cooked at the campsite can only be eaten at the campsite because the second your characters leave, the food is spoiled.  

If all you want to do is heal your characters, then you may be better off just sleeping to heal, but if going with this option, the player has to consider that enemies are stronger at night. Although, the benefit is there are more rewards and more enemies, making it easier to level up when you leave again. It is mostly rinse and repeat after this, with the player going through each floor, returning to the campsite and doing it all again until they meet their untimely deaths.  

Impressions

In Conclusion 

Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook is a fun time. While it may not appeal to everyone, with always starting at floor one and level one when dying, it does force players to strategise so that doesn’t happen. Whether that is through optimising your team in the best way or planning ahead on how to deal with the enemies, strategy will be your most important weapon in Monster Menu the Scavenger’s Cookbook. The cooking element is also great, but there wasn’t a single item on that menu I would want to eat, considering they are all disgusting looking on purpose with eyes and guts on the plate. If you enjoy turn-based roguelikes and the Disgaea seriesMonster Menu is another great game from NIS America that is well worth your time.

Monster Menu the Scavenger’s Cookbook is available on the 22nd of May in NA, the 26th of May in EU and the 2nd of June in ANZ for Switch and PS4/5. NIS America provided a code for review purposes. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Charlie Norris

Charlie Norris is a lover of games, especially RPGs. When he isn't playing games, he is most likely thinking about games and which ones he wants to play next. Some may say it is an obsession, but he says it is a way of life.