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Dawn Of The Monsters Is Good Kaiju-Bashing Fun
Platform(s): PC (version played),
Genre: 2D beat-em-up with kaijus & an Ultraman facsimile
With Dawn of the Monsters, publisher WayForward and developer 13am basically gave us a Shin universe scenario without outright saying it. They made a game where facsimiles of Ultraman, Gamera, Godzilla, and Evangelion team up and brawl 2D side-scrolling style. And the mash-up is really fun, provided you don’t mind the dialling down in pacing and action.
We don’t mean the freneticness of the beat-em-up genre; Dawn of the Monsters is as attrition-heavy as they come with its onslaught of enemy kaijus (called Nephilims) ranging from grunts to heavy hitters with special moves straight out of fighting games. In fact, there are a lot of fighting game nods here as your hero kaijus and giant-sized warriors -Megadon, Ganira, Aegis Prime, Galahad- can block, dodge, parry, and even do combos with their respective attacks.
They all control different and come with their own specials too. Megadon hits hard and has its own version of the atomic breath and ground pound, while Ultraman facsimile Aegis Prime is fast but takes more damage than the others. Ganira can summon a crab buddy to draw agro while it has far-reaching slams, and mecha hero Galahad has a giant cannon for mid and long-range attacking at the cost of crappy up-close attacks.
Dawn of the Monsters also comes with a Rage mechanic that turns the tide in your favour: as you take damage or deal damage, you gain Rage meter (the orange one) which you can use for damaging special moves. You also can build up Cataclysm meter (the purple one) to unleash a screen-clearing attack from Megadon’s atomic breath AoE blast to Gamera’s tsunami. Best of all, you can equip up to three special power-ups to boost your monster’s stats and give them RPG-like buffs like getting health from damage or getting Rage meter over time instead of getting damage.
You’re going to need these as the enemies will pile onto you and be as aggressive as possible throughout the 36 stages that take you all across different ravaged countries like Canada and Brazil, each with their own hazards like tsunamis to dodge and sandstorms that obscure your visibility. Still, once you figure out the enemy patterns and boss movements, you can dodge and evade enemy attacks easily. Short of a few tough cheap fights, most of Dawn of the Monster can be conquered with ease if you know the fundamentals of a side-scrolling beat-em-up. It’s getting the high ranking stage clears for the top-tiered power-ups that can be tricky. That means replaying some sections for that coveted A+ or S rank from combos and not getting hit for the majority of the level.
I gravitate towards Megadon’s big damage and slow movement as well as Aegis Prime’s fast movement, but you’re sure to find your favourites among the ferocious four. This is also helped by the simple controls that are tight and responsive; a must for any beat-em-up. I definitely had fun with what’s offered here with the building-smashing and super moves-chaining, not to mention using Aegis Prime’s karate jump kicks for closing gaps between enemies. Still, it’s probably because I adore 2D beat-em-ups especially when they’re this slickly-made and tailored.
Dawn of the Monsters is simplistic beat-em-up fun and as standard as they come from first impressions. It’s not going to change your mind about repetitive side-scrollers, especially with its purposely weighty and slow feel. However, you cannot fault its dedicated design, presentation, and style, which is plentiful here. It’s catered for people who like 2D beat em ups and kaiju-filled games; a narrow niche but one that will be happy with Dawn of the Monsters, especially if you can get one more person for some co-op monster-brawling against the AI.
If you want to see a version of SNK’s King of the Monsters but with good solid controls, a lovely art style, and stylistic gravity-inducing fun action, you cannot go wrong with 13AM Games’ best co-op tribute to kaiju and tokusatsu films.
Review copy provided by WayForward.
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