It is difficult to avoid Pokémon comparisons when discussing RPGs that see players taming monsters and using them in battle. That being said, after some hands-on time with Coromon, developed by TRAGsoft and published by Freedom Games, it seems like the game will be more than able to create its own identity within the genre.
My time with Coromon starts with my character being woken up in bed by their mom. After my character wakes up, I could choose from a slew of customization options for my character before making my way downstairs. Downstairs, Coromon begins to make itself stand out in subtle but charming ways. The clock on the wall matches my computer’s time. Standing in front of my character’s younger sibling who is playing a video game, causes them to call for our mom because I’m blocking the screen on purpose. They are subtle details, but they make the world feel much more alive and interactive than one would expect.
After a short conversation with my mom, I go out the front door and jump forward in time to Coromon’s desert biome that is further in the game. I have a full team of six different monsters and am told that I’m there to battle a Titan to collect some of its essence. It all is communicated through dialogue with pretty straightforward characters, with some humor mixed in, and emoji animations about their heads to show their emotions. The dialogue is effective and entertaining enough to keep the player’s attention and get some good chuckles along the way.
From there, I’m able to start exploring the region and make my way up a pyramid to face the Titan. It does not take long to stumble into a random battle with two monsters that look like disgruntled feral weasels. Entering the battle makes two of Coromon’s strengths apparent quickly. The first is its pixel art and animations. The visuals in Coromon are fantastic, with the monsters I saw in the preview all having a lot of detail and personality in their designs. The designs are accompanied by excellent animations that help make the battles feel exciting and large. The second strength is Coromon’s music. Both my starting house and the desert region boasted their own tracks, but the desert-themed battle music was a real standout.
The battle itself exemplified just how much depth Coromon has to its turn-based combat. Moves have a lot of variety and different effects, and each takes a certain amount of a monster’s stamina. Once a monster drains all of its stamina, they have to skip a turn to rest and regain half of it back. One particularly interesting move that I saw put a status on the enemy monster so that when mine died, it would drain the enemy’s stamina completely, giving my next monster what was essentially a free hit.
Coromon also features the types and associated weaknesses and strengths that many expect from the genre. The information is all straightforward to access and check on the fly. Additionally, moves are marked by whether or not they are effective or ineffective, and inspecting enemies reveals the statuses they have on them and if they have resistance to certain types. It was great having the information so easy to find and made the battles much more engaging since it is easy to approach them with all of the knowledge needed to make informed decisions.
My first battle also led to one of my Coromon leveling up. In Coromon, each monster has three different variations. Not only does each variation have a different color scheme, but each has a different level of potential. Each monster has two experience bars, measuring the monster’s actual level while the other is its potential bar. The higher a monster’s potential, the faster the bar will fill up. Each time the bar fills, the player is given some extra skill points to spend on the monster’s stats, allowing players to more fully customize their monsters to help them fit into their party exactly how the player needs them to. The system seems to add a lot of player agency to the game and opens up the possibilities with each monster in the game significantly.
After completing that battle, I continue moving up the pyramid. My path was impeded by a variety of puzzles that were really well thought out. There is a series of navigation puzzles revolving around poison darts and a few puzzles that deal with stepping on floor switches to properly align doorways in a series of walls to pass through. The puzzles are a nice change of pace and help the level have good pacing to it.
After reaching the top of the pyramid, I came face to face with my first Titan. After going through some pretty funny dialogue, the battle started in earnest. The Titan was a giant sand monster, and the fight plays very similarly to a traditional JRPG boss fight. It has a massive health bar, unique attacks, and three whole phases that keep the fight moving. It took a while, but the Titan eventually fell, giving me what I came for and bringing the demo to an end.
In the end, Coromon looks like it could be a real treat for fans of monster-taming RPGs. It looks like it has some great new ideas and mechanics to add to the genre. Its humor and cheeky design details also give Coromon a charming and welcoming identity that is all its own, making it look like a great game for fans of the genre.
Coromon releases September 2021 on Android, iOS, and PC.