Mondealy Review – Monstrously Perfect

When I came across Mondealy and saw that it was inspired by Undertale, Oneshot, and Stardew Valley, three of my all-time favorite games, there was no way I was going to pass on giving it a try. While the vague premise intrigued me, the art style is what really caught my attention—a gorgeous pixelated 2D world full of characters that didn’t look quite human. Who were they, and what exactly were their stories? Developed by uglycoal and published by Valkyrie Initiative, Mondealy is a magical world in which I was more than happy to find the answers to those questions.

Mondealy is broken up into twelve chapters, including the prologue and the epilogue. In the prologue, you’re a traveler who happens to stop by a bar in a town called Mondealy, but the real story comes in the form of a tale. As you sit at the bar, a stranger opens her book and reads about how a human came upon the “monsters” of Dargratt, and how they began to coexist.

Mondealy 01
A guy walks into a bar-

Chapter One starts us off as our actual hero, Michael—a man who’s just been unemployed (though he doesn’t seem to care much at all). Michael and his ex, Dary, take shelter in the tower they frequent when it starts to rain. When Dary leaves as soon as the rain stops, Michael decides to have some fun by throwing a brick around (not how I usually pass the time, but to each their own). The fun doesn’t last, though, as the brick breaks the floorboards, taking Michael down with them. It’s clear that there’s no way back up, so in an attempt to escape, he finds a hidden passage behind a shelf. This passage leads to a cave, which leads to underground catacombs, and after searching around for a way to get out, Michael gets kidnapped and taken to none other than Dargratt, the hidden town beneath Mondealy.

Soon enough Michael is let go, but he can’t get that weird underground place out of his head. Plus, he left his phone there, and there’s no living without that, right? So to no surprise, he ends up returning, but this time with Dary. And this time, he gets roped into helping Princess Riley search for someone who’s been missing for three years. As Michael attempts to solve this mystery, he’s dragged into gang rivals between the four districts, an unexpected potential travesty, and into these people’s lives whether they want him there or not. All of this is to say that Mondealy was never once a bore.

Mondealy 02
Okay, let me just turn myself around and walk away

I could honestly talk about Mondealy’s story for the rest of this review, but why would I take away the fun of your adventure? And goodness, what an adventure it will be. Every chapter, long or short, pushes you toward a beautiful conclusion. Michael finding this missing person isn’t the start of the adventure, and it certainly isn’t the end. Yet at the same time, it’s a plot point that belongs. As a writer, over the years I’ve learned exactly how important it is for every point of a story to connect. It doesn’t matter if that story is in a book or a video game. No one wants to be sent on a wild goose chase only for it not to matter in the end. In Mondealy, I never felt that what I did as Michael didn’t matter. And it isn’t just the main story that this feeling pertained to.

There are so many little things to do in Mondealy, and there’s no doubt that I haven’t come close to doing them all. From helping a random couple’s date go well, to getting lost in someone’s literal labyrinth of a house, to watering some random plants just because. These are things that you don’t have to do (besides the labyrinth…you do have to do that) but rather things you can do, and I loved that. I didn’t have to water that plant, or buy that random couple some candy, or spend all of my very hard-earned money on a random 60G stone bust, but I did, and it’s solely the fact that I could that made my adventure that much more special. There are also two forms of collectibles to find throughout the world including plushies and soundtracks. I got all the plushies and I don’t think I even got half of the soundtracks, but I’d certainly like to try again.

Mondealy 03
I stood as a scarecrow for a solid minute and a half

Speaking of soundtracks, the music in Mondealy was epic, somber, and everything in between. It was exciting and emotional and an important addition to my playthrough. But even more importantly, to me at least, were the gorgeous visuals. Mondealy has a beautiful 2D pixel art style with fluid animated movements that made my heart and brain extremely happy. I also have to throw in that you can change Michael’s hairstyle and outfits once you’ve unlocked the outfits. I made him as pretty as possible, and the graphics surely did him justice.

Something else that made me happy was the unexpected (but very welcome) romance between Michael and one of the other characters. I thought that there were two romance options, and though I was really going for one of them, Michael ended up with the other one instead. That being said, there are so many achievements that I didn’t unlock the first time around. Apparently, there are two people I never even met! When I finished, I finished the “main quest.” Is that to say that there will be other endings if I play through it again? Potentially. Is that to say that my other romance option will actually be a thing? I sure hope so. But either way, I was more than satisfied with the ending that I did get. Still, despite the high probability of having a similar second playthrough, I’m excited to find out what else I can or can’t do. And as someone who doesn’t have the attention span to play the same game more than once? Yeah, Mondealy is truly something special.

Mondealy 04
Um is that the love of my life… (yes)

I want to focus on the characters and the world of Dargratt some more to say that I had an amazing time exploring both of them. The world is a decent size, and though in the beginning of my playthrough I was wishing for a map, it wasn’t long before I realized I didn’t really need one. I happily went through every area multiple times whether I had to or not, and easily became familiar with my surroundings. And the characters…God the characters. A lot of them I don’t even remember the names of, but I surely do remember the faces, the personalities, and the conversations. Everyone, whether you talk to them once or ten times, is completely different from one another. The presentation, the attitudes, and the dialogue were some of my favorite parts of Mondealy. Put all of that together and you have a world to remember. The environment changes a little as the story progresses too. It’s nothing too big—people move around and some buildings’ exteriors change. It may not sound like much but it was always a nice change of pace.

As I mentioned in the beginning, Mondealy is said to be inspired by three of the most amazing games I’ve ever played. While I don’t see much Stardew in it, I see the other two loud and clear. Undertale, an adventure unlike one I’ve ever experienced before. A game with so many lessons to be learned, places to be explored, and unique and fascinating characters to fall in love with. OneShot, the first “hidden gem” I consider myself ever having played. A game I cried over after finishing because I didn’t want it to end. A game that I think about to this day despite having played it only once, over five years ago.

Mondealy 05
I feel that it really doesn’t get more beautiful than this…

There were adventures to be had in Mondealy. I learned a lesson or two. There were places to be explored, and unique characters that I absolutely fell in love with (I’m looking at you, Rufus). I cried when I finished Mondealy because I didn’t want it to be over. And I know that in five years, whether I play it again or not, I will absolutely remember this beautiful game.

Inanna played Mondealy on PC with a review copy.

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