Why did the ghost not go to the prom? Because it had noBODY to go with! Hahahah… *cough* anyway. In Monster Prom XXL it’s more likely that the ghost didn’t go to the prom because they were unable to woo their intended Werewolf date in time for the big dance. That’s the aim of this game. You play as a pupil of Spooky High and there only 6 weeks left until the end of year Monster Prom. With your sights set on the most popular, attractive, intelligent, affluent and evil students, you set out to get to know them and hopefully win their affection (or admiration at least). It’s a tale as old as time. Fire Girl meets Vampire Boy. Vampire Boy acts aloof and hard to get until Fire Girl wins over his love by paying a million homeless people a dollar each to follow him on Instagram. Fire Girl and Vampire boy go to prom together.
The cast of Monster Prom XXL are a charismatic bunch and that’s putting it lightly. In the original content of the game there are 6 potential love interests; The hard-partying ghost Polly Geist, the Gorgon with rich tastes and criminal aspirations Vera Oberlin, the hipster Vampire Liam de Lioncourt, a Meremaid princess called Miranda Vanderbilt, the hot headed rebel demon Damien LaVey and the jock werewolf Scott Howl. The Second Term DLC is included as part of the XXL version of the game and includes 2 new love interests – Zoe, a pop culture obsessed Eldritch deity, and Calculester Hewlett-Packard, a library computer that has developed sentience.
On the surface, the Monster Prom XXL characters might seem like a cross between the Addams Family and the stereotypical pigeon holes from any Teen comedy movie. There’s a jock, the smart nerd, a mean girl, the popular ditsy chick, and so on and so forth. Sure, they have fangs, ectoplasmic bodies or snakes for hair but they’re still like the starting dynamic in the Breakfast Club. This game doesn’t really go about subverting many expectations you might have when you’re attempting to befriend and woo these characters – the jock is dumb, the hipster hates anything popular, etc. – but instead turns these traits up to 11. All of this is framed in a high school where 300 monster raves can break out in the morning, a demon can set a cafeteria table on fire at lunch, and an intergalactic prince can pop by to propose to a student in the afternoon. Yup. It’s utterly bananas.
At the start of each run at Monster Prom XXL (in either a full or short play, running for 60 or 30 minutes), the player gets to choose their student avatar, name and pronouns. You’ve then got to answer a series of questions like you’re taking a quiz in a magazine to find out your personality type or which member of NSYNC would be perfect for you (Lance Bass, if you’re interested). The choices to these light hearted and often bonkers questions alter the players starting stats. Boldness, charm, wealth, coolness, smarts and more get assigned to your character as you choose your answers. The last question (or 2 questions if you’re playing on the Second Term DLC) have 6 different answers and each one aligns somewhat with the personalities of the would-be prom dates. The choice here gives the player a little starting nudge in the right direction towards their student of choice.
Once that’s all sorted, you’re into the main game of Monster Prom XXL which plays out a like a combination of a Persona school life section and a romance visual novel game. Each game day is broken down into 3 sections – morning, lunch and evening. During the morning and evening sessions, the player gets to choose which part of Spooky High they want to visit. Each area will boost a particular stat for the player character. Going to class will increase intelligence, heading to the gym will add to charm, skipping class and hanging out in the toilets will increase boldness and so on. Each would be romantic option reacts better and has unique options for player avatars that have desirable traits. Trying to woo the vampiric Liam de Lioncourt, for example, requires plenty of creativity which can be increased by partaking in the school play at the Auditorium. Each selection for these sessions is accompanied by a text description of what went down from the narrator. There are hundreds of these scenarios to uncover, each of which have a madcap, absurdist bent to them.
Once you’ve attended a morning or afternoon session and raised your stats, you get a chance to cosy up to one or two of the prom prospects. If you’re focusing on one particular love interest, starting with the answers to the opening quiz, you’ll bump into that character most often thanks to some algorithm magic in the back end.
During these sections, you’ll find the Monster Prom XXL cast in all kinds of kooky predicaments. Some are simply a pair of love interests talking (but them being at polar opposites to one another, often with hilarious outcomes) while others are meta encounters that happen on almost every run. You’ll eventually have to get involved in these situations and make a selection from a set of options. This is where the stats come in. Your stats will determine how successful your option plays out. If you’re suitably buffed in the right stat, you can end up gaining the affection of one of both of the characters in the conversation. If you pick an option and your stats don’t make the cut, you’ll strike out and you might even take a hit to your stats.
The lunch time choices are a little easier. You’re presented with a top down diagram of the lunch room and you get to choose which table you want to sit at. Icons represent who’s sat there so you can have a go at getting a little closer to those sat at your chosen table. Much like the other sessions, the Monster Prom XXL love interests are usually up to some manic scheme and the player gets embroiled in it some how. The choices here are far more black and white. You’re only ever presented with 2 options and, in my experience, it’s impossible to fail these events. You’ll earn a little love with one of the inhabitants of the table either way, based on your choices.
The cycle – morning, lunch, afternoon – continues through to its completion at which point the player has the opportunity to ask one of the main characters out to the prom. If you’ve done enough, focusing on gaining the favour of one character and made the right choices, your character will go to the ball with their intended date. Fail to make the cut and you’ll get rejected. Some of the turn downs are brutal. You’ve been warned.
After a fun runs at the game, you’ll start to understand each character much better. Once you’ve had plenty of interactions with the cast, actually getting a date to the Monster Prom won’t be a problem. For some characters, the correct choices are always obvious as they feel a little too two dimensional and singularly driven. You’ll be able to navigate most of the wacky situations so that they end up gaining you a little love with your intended beau (or should that be “Boo”?).
There’s more than just bagging a date in Monster Prom XXL though. There’s a myriad secret endings to unlock that relate to the characters or items that can be bought from the in-game store. Exploring how to unlock these are the most exciting moments of the game as they relate to some of the most hilarious situations. In one, Polly can take some ‘very weird drugs’ and become aware of reality, acknowledging that she is a character in a game. In another, you have to convert a bunch of cultists into K-Pop worshipers. In another you use a bed sheet to act like a ghost. You can even date the narrator of the game with enough patience. Unlocking these endings isn’t easy and will require some trial and error (or a guide – just use a guide) because some of the choices are not as immediately obvious as others but they’re so worth it. If you don’t use a guide, it’s likely that the structure of Monster Prom XXL will start to grate well before you’ve experienced the best of what it has to offer.
It’s rare that a game will make me actually “laugh out loud”. I actually did “lol” a number of times with Monster Prom XXL. When I wasn’t laughing, there was plenty of smiling. With absurdist and occasionally risqué humour, characters that almost transcend into parody of stereotypes, plenty of innuendo and a 4th wall that might as not exist, it’s a genuinely funny game. Sure, not every joke lands but there are jokes or absurd situations in every other sentence so not all of them need too.
Coupled with an excellent art style and soundtrack, Monster Prom XXL is constantly charming. There’s a real attention to detail in this game too. Each character wears something different depending on the area you meet them. Every potential date has their own costume that they don when practicing for the school play at the Auditorium, for example.
All of this can be played in single player or up to 4 player multiplayer either locally or in a private lobby online. I’ve played this locally with my wife in 2 player and it was just as fun (especially when we were both gunning for the same character). Here you take turns to choose your locations and actions, utilising multiple controllers or with just one in a pass the controller system. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone else who has this game so wasn’t able to trial the online portion of the game.
Monster Prom XXL is not your average dating game. The diabolic datable cast is bursting with character, the set pieces are outlandish and the endings go from the sublime to the ridiculous. That said, without a guide, the structure of the game will become annoyingly repetitive before you unlock the secret endings which are, by far and away, the best aspect of this game.
Monster Prom XXL is available now on PS4 (review platform), PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Developer: Beautiful Glitch
Publisher: Those Awesome Guys
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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