Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a story-heavy, turn-based RPG spinoff of the Monster Hunter series. By collecting eggs, you raise monsters to fight alongside you in battles and search for answers to deadly mysteries. The gameplay and story are both serviceable, but newcomers to Monster Hunter or RPGs in general will likely be turned off by their downsides.
The game has some fine music and sound design, though it’s disappointing that very little music comes from the main series. The graphics are incredible, thanks in part to the game’s unique art style. But all of this is dragged down by the game’s performance, with a variable framerate heavily unoptimized for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a great game for fans of Monster Hunter or turn-based RPGs in general, but if you decide to go for it, grab the PC version instead.
Though its release was a few months ago, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin keeps its title as the definitive Monster Hunter RPG. It has enjoyed greater content through updates, and it will even receive new additions this month.
This begs the question; if you’re interested in RPGs or the Monster Hunter series, should you get this game?
I’ve personally played through around half of the game’s main story so far. There will be minor spoilers throughout this review as a result. If you want to try the game out for yourself first, there is a demo available on both Steam and the Nintendo Switch. This review will also be specifically for the Switch version of the game, so keep that in mind when I gloss over the performance and visuals.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 Gameplay Review
Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a game where you collect monster eggs to raise as your own, using them to battle against other monsters. Fights are done through turn-based menus with occasional quick-time events; players will need to counter enemy moves with one of three types of attacks in order to prevent health loss and deal greater damage. With the right strategies, damage can even be avoided completely during fights.
As a sequel title, this game has some extra additions that the first Stories game did not have. This includes AI-controlled partners, online co-op, and new weapons taken from the main series. In terms of building off of the gameplay formula given by Monster Hunter Stories and adding new features, Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a straight upgrade.
The actual gameplay loop of fighting, however, is lacking. While the occasional QTEs do allow for some more tests of skill, a lot of it is just choosing the right moves in response to the monster you fight. In fairness, this is pretty much the standard for turn-based RPGs out there, but the counter-based fighting doesn’t feel truly threatening until going up against stronger monsters. And at that point, they can wipe out you and your party in just one or two hits.
As a fan of the main Monster Hunter series and its fast-paced action, Stories 2 just didn’t attract me very much. There is a greater sense of depth as you continue playing, but it takes a very long time to reach that point. You’ll probably be more than fine with it if you’re already a fan of other turn-based RPGs or if you played and loved the original Monster Hunter Stories. For people looking to jump into the RPG genre, however, it might be best to look elsewhere.
As its title suggests, Monster Hunter Stories 2 features much more intricate worldbuilding and characters than the mainline Monster Hunter series. Players are set upon a quest to find out why monsters are disappearing and going wild, as well as to discover the secret behind the mysterious Razewing Ratha. Many friends will be encountered along the way, and some of the people you face might have bad intentions for you.
While the story does have quite a few twists and turns, it starts out more focused on the characters than the titular monsters. Numerous breaks in the story are accompanied by humor, usually from Navirou – the designated comic relief of the group. Whether you enjoy him depends on your personality, but his constant obsession with donuts and less-than-stellar jokes started to get on my nerves after a while.
There are also many moments of exposition and flashbacks; when going for show-or-tell, the game usually opts for the latter. This is mainly centered around the first third of the story, and there are more exciting things that happen later on. The overall pacing is very subdued, though, and for a while, it felt like I was just going through the story of a regular Monster Hunter game, which is to say, not a very good story.
I’ll give Monster Hunter Stories 2 credit where it’s due; the actual cutscenes and animations are very well done. While the voice acting wasn’t very special, I could see myself caring about the characters as I went through my quests, and later sections of the game had me very curious to see what would happen next. The story can feel like a slog at times, but it picks itself back up before too long, making for a pretty fun journey overall.
Sounds and Music
The game’s sound design is perfectly fine, for what it is. Nothing sounds too out of place; there isn’t a lack of sound in many areas, and the monsters sound like they do in the mainline series. The music is okay, too, but Stories 2 opts for a lot of its own unique music rather than bringing back or remixing certain monster themes. Even the monster Khezu gets battle music, whereas one of its gimmicks in the main series was not having any music play whatsoever. It’s a little disappointing, honestly; the themes used by Stories 2 in comparison just don’t match up.
UI and Graphics
The game’s interface is, likewise, serviceable. The map can be a bit of a pain to navigate, but Stories 2 provides a lot of options in how you move through menus and utilize items. The graphics are one of the highest points of the game, partially thanks to its unique art style. The cel-shaded look gives it a unique level of charm, and the textures and models are very high-quality even on the Switch. This, unfortunately, introduces a major problem with Stories 2 – a problem incredibly apparent in its console release.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 Switch Performance Review
The Switch port of Monster Hunter Stories 2 is undeniably poor. I’ve encountered constant stuttering throughout the whole game, even in villages and the egg-hatching cutscenes. Even with the beauty of the game, it can be a pain to look at sometimes. This is especially baffling with how Monster Hunter Rise is on Switch; while it has more realistic graphics and more intensive action going on during battles, Rise runs with just about no stuttering or framerate issues at all.
If you’re playing on a PC and that PC can handle Monster Hunter World without much of a problem, it should be more than enough to mitigate these performance issues entirely. However, this review is for the Switch version of the game.
As a fan of Nintendo titles and someone that advocates for more Switch ports of popular games, it’s baffling that the devs hindered this version of the game so heavily. It’s an unfortunate problem with the game that makes me reluctant to recommend it to anybody.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 Switch Review: Final Verdict – 6.5/10
If you’re not already a fan of turn-based RPGs, this game is unlikely to draw you in. If you don’t enjoy the humor, you’ll probably roll your eyes at the first few hours of the story. But if you’re a turn-based RPG fanatic looking for something new, Monster Hunter Stories 2 is sure to catch your eye. I would recommend this game to those people, as well as people that just want more Monster Hunter content to tide them over as they wait for Rise’s PC port or its Sunbreak expansion. Sadly, I can’t recommend you get the Switch version of Stories 2 unless your computer is a literal toaster. The performance problems are sure to dampen your enjoyment of the game, and I hope Capcom one day releases a patch on the Switch to remedy this.
Check out Monster Hunter Stories 2’s launch trailer here:
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