A Monster’s Expedition
By: Draknek Limited
I’m a big fan of Draknek’s (aka Alan Hazelden) puzzle games, such as A Good Snowman is Hard to Build and Cosmic Express. They’re fantastic examples of games that are challenging in all the right ways, making it easy to experiment and work out the solutions without being penalized for mistakes. Still, I never finished Cosmic Express, as once I got stumped by all the puzzles available to me, I took longer and longer breaks from it until I forgot about it. Apparently I’m not the only one, because now Draknek is back with A Monster’s Expedition (Through Puzzling Exhibitions), which features the same cuddly monster from the other two games, but aims for a more relaxing and accessible experience.
A Monster’s Expedition is releasing next week, on September 10th, on both Steam and Apple Arcade. I don’t have access to the iOS version yet, but I was lucky enough to get a copy of the Steam version ahead of time. I played some of it using Steam Link to play on my iPad using a controller and recorded the gameplay. I didn’t play long because Steam Link is too choppy, but I’m really loving what I’ve seen so far. After playing last week’s Apple Arcade game, The Last Campfire, I was lamenting that there aren’t more open world puzzle games on iOS, where you manipulate your environment to make progress. Usually games like that involve fighting monsters, and I just want to solve the puzzles. Well, that’s pretty much what A Monster’s Exhibition is like. You knock down trees and roll them around to make paths so you can hop from island to island. Often there are multiple paths you can take, so you can roam around freely and come back later to check out the paths you left unexplored.
Since I played the PC version, I was using a controller, which works great, but I’m saving most of the game for the proper release so I can use the touch controls. Based on what the developers have shown and told me, you simply tap where you want to move or swipe on a tree to automatically run to it and knock it over. You can also see a ghost version of the tree to predict where it will land before you push it over. That’s how it worked with A Good Snowman, and I remember it worked really well. Since the game will be on Apple Arcade, it will also have iCloud sync and controller support if that’s what you prefer.
I haven’t played that long yet, but I’ve already gotten stumped a couple of times and took the easier route. The game also boasts hundreds of islands to explore, so this is no small game. But I see there are mailboxes that act as teleporters for fast travel between areas to make it easier to revisit paths you left abandoned. The art style is also super charming and I love the little details like being able to sit on the edge of an island and dangle your feet in the water. And to tie the whole experience together, there are museum exhibitions scattered throughout that add some optional story bits. To say I’m excited to play this game properly on my iPad is an understatement. There’s already so much to love about it from the short time I’ve spent with it and I can’t wait to play more. I’ll definitely have more to say once the game is out, but if you’re a puzzle fan and let your Apple Arcade subscription lapse, this seems like a good time to start it up again.