The New Face of Monato Esprit – Review
By Briana Williams (Columbae), OnRPG Journalist
In July of 2009, Reality Gap launched their fantasy based MMO, Monato Esprit. Since then, the game has grown slowly and garnered varied criticism for generic game play, a predictable premise and, most notably, a completely player-driven economy heavily reliant on currency purchased with actual money. It has a low population and a poor reputation, but it is possible that much of the negative reaction is undeserved, especially in light of recent developments in Reality Gap’s business model.
The June 14th patch introduced new elements that have significantly altered the nature of the game. A new career has opened up customization options, new areas have opened up the Monato world, and a revamp of the currency system has turned the economy on its collective head. Unfortunately, new bugs and difficulties have surfaced as well, and not all of the existing problems have been addressed. The sum total of the good and bad make up the new Monato Esprit experience, and it is markedly different from the game that launched last summer.
Monato Esprit: Land of Dreams
Reality Gap’s flagship MMO is a generic fantasy title set in the aptly named Monato Esprit – the land that gives birth to our dreams. All is well until an evil spirit begins turning good dreams into nightmares. Players are Archons, winged humanoids trusted to protect Monato Esprit from any possible threats, and it is their responsibility to use the power of magic crystals to fight the nightmares and take back their peaceful land.
The game itself is a typical one, similar to hundreds of other fantasy based MMOs on the market. There are no surprises in character creation; with only one race and limited customization options, most avatars look alike. When the game launched, there were only four classes – hwarang, templar, mage, and cleric. The new update has brought the new harlequin class into play, and the sheriff class is said to be next on the agenda.
The game’s aim is to level up through PVE encounters, primarily quests and dungeons. Quests are generous enough to prevent serious grinding. Most are easily accomplished solo, but party play is helpful down the line. Dungeons, on the other hand, are poorly implemented. Although they are instanced and provide a surprisingly creepy break from an otherwise cutesy game, the mini-map support is weak and confusing, making them wearisome affairs. There is no PVP option at all, though supposedly a guild versus guild feature is on the horizon. The community is very, very small, but warm and helpful. The overall experience is a pleasant but generic one, with the exception of…
Crafting! Endless Possibilities
Monato boasts one of the best and most developed crafting systems out there. Through alchemy, which every Archon can perform, it’s possible to create any item a player could need. By combining raw materials gathered from monsters, equipment, potions and wings can all be produced. Likewise, existing items can be broken down into raw materials to create new items. Alchemy rewards players fairly for time and effort invested, and it clocks in as one of the best reasons to play.
Mad Money: Monato’s New Economy
With the release of the June patch comes the single largest change to Monato Esprit, the introduction of a gold system. Previously, the economy was entirely player driven with no gold drops and no NPCs to sell or buy from. All transactions were either direct trades or hinged on the use of MetaTix, the in-game currency purchased at the cash shop. A truly free to play experience was not a reality, as some dungeons, weapons and even repair costs for gear cost MetaTix. The introduction of the gold system permits players to enjoy the game’s content, repair gear and generally enjoy themselves without a financial commitment.
The downside to the new patch is the number of bugs that have been introduced. Some recipes, scrolls and skills do not work properly while some do not work at all. These issues will hopefully be cleared up in coming weeks, but they may present a stumbling block to new players.
Outstripped by Passing Butterflies: Gameplay
Monato Esprit employs a mouse based control system with no WASD configuration. How your keys are tied to skills and potions and targeting can be difficult. The weakest aspect of Monato’s overall game play is the speed. Motion, combat and skills are all very slow, often seeming delayed. The result is a slow paced game where action does not feel like action.
The game’s stability has so far been questionable at best. Crashes were common and served as a major detriment to building a strong population. Reality Gap is striving for increased stability with the new the update, but time will tell if the server’s downtime will reflect these changes.
Absolutely Average: Graphics and Sound
The look of Monato Esprit supports the predictable fantasy premise with predictable art and unsophisticated graphics. Though not unpleasant, it has a dated feel to it; avatars and structures are heavy, clumsy and a tad angular. A clever color palette leaves it feeling warm, however, and the cutesy character designs still manage to be very inviting.
The greatest weakness in the sound department is the repetition. Many of the effects and background songs are frequently recycled over and over. On the bright side, the sound is usually appropriate and does a great job of enhancing game experience. Overall, Monato is not a piece of technical wizardry, but it functions well as a cute, peppy, fantasy-based MMO – which is exactly what it is.
Give it to Me Straight
Many gamers gave up on Monato Esprit before the title had a chance to evolve. The bad news is that Monato is a predictable game with a low population and a poor reputation. The good news is that Reality Gap has listened to player feedback and made major, game-altering changes to its premiere MMO in their quest to improve it. To walk away without giving Monato Esprit a fighting chance is a crying shame. With the first of many major developments in place, it is the rare game that works with players to create a better experience. It is hard to say how it will evolve, but it is probably safe to assume that it will be a title to watch.
-Excellent crafting system
-Plenty of quests
-Cookie cutter fantasy premise
-Very low population
-No PVP option