Monsters and Medicine by Clockwork Acorn
Monsters and Medicine is an aptly titled puzzle game built around the concept of providing healthcare for various kinds of monsters. Featuring a cutesy art style, the game presents a simplistic and lighthearted aesthetic but soon reveals itself to pack quite a surprising challenge. Monsters and Medicine boasts 100 levels, but is it engaging enough to keep players hooked for that long?
Monster Doctor, Give Me the News
The premise of Monsters and Medicine is pretty straightforward; monsters are injured, and you need to heal them. To facilitate this, the player is tasked with creating a hospital for the monsters. Fans of management games shouldn’t get their hopes up; this is purely a puzzler, and anyone looking for a quirky spin on Theme Hospital should look elsewhere.
Monsters and Medicine is primarily about dragging tiles onto the ground to provide the appropriate rooms to heal incoming monsters. The game is broken up into turns, and any action prompts a new turn. Each turn new monsters join the queue for healing, and any monsters already in this queue take damage. Monsters being treated in the hospital gain health each turn until they are cured; winning means curing a certain number of monsters before too many die in the queue.
Monsters come in several colors with a few variances between them; some die faster than others, for example. Rooms are similarly color-coded, and in order to heal monsters, the correct rooms must be placed. Monsters can also only be cured in the order in which they queue outside the hospital. There’s enough going on here to prop up a decently varied puzzle game, but there are a few niggles that get in the way.
When the Cure Is Worse Than the Disease
The most noticeable issue facing Monsters and Medicine is its rather wild difficulty curve; even early on one level might be drastically more challenging than the next and so it’s sometimes tricky to get to grips with the way in which certain systems interact.
More serious, though, is the fact that room tiles are randomly provided, and it can often feel like levels boil down to the pure luck of whether the game churns out the right rooms or not. Eventually it begins to feel like the best approach is to simply slap down tiles in quick succession (with occasional consideration for which ones would be most appropriate) and hope for the best; I passed through several levels using this method.
The design of Monsters and Medicine is simple, bold and eye-catching. The game makes excellent use of color to present its puzzles as clearly as possible. The music is relaxed and tone-appropriate for the carefree nature of the game. There is a good variety of background styles for the various stages, ranging from haunted forests to fiery mountains.
Monsters and Medicine presents itself as an approachable and relatively simplistic puzzler. Its levels can be retried quickly, and it’s fairly relaxing to play but it is hampered by a poorly executed difficulty curve and a puzzle system that often feels more reliant on luck than concentration or skill.
Despite its difficulties, Monsters and Medicine has some endearing qualities and it certainly offers a solid challenge in some of its levels; puzzle fans should find a good distraction in this quirky title.