For the most part, Pokémon has held a stranglehold over the monster taming videogame genre. The pocket monster catching and battling title has grown to become a global sensation, and one of Nintendo's most beloved IPs, but for those who don't own a Nintendo device, enjoying a Pokémon RPG has always been a bit of a challenge. Over the past few years, we've seen a few non-Nintendo monster taming games debut, including Temtem and Monster Sanctuary, but none quite itched the classic Pokémon scratch, until now.
TRAGsoft, a small Dutch studio owned by "Two Ridiculously Ambitious Guys' (hence TRAG) has been working on its own take on the monster taming genre, an upcoming title known as Coromon. This game looks like a Pokémon title (before the series ditched the pixel art style and the sprite-based characters) with inspirations from The Legend of Zelda, and even brings a variety of unique creatures to tame and battle. And, it does all of this alongside a sprawling, lengthy campaign, all with a simple and easy to adapt to style of design.
As part of Coromon's appearance at the now concluded E3 2021, I've recently had the chance to play through a short, specially designed demo, while also being able to chat with the developers about this interesting title (you can see the full interview above).
My immediate opinion of Coromon was how similar it is to Pokémon, an issue I felt may act detrimentally against it. But, after more thought, I think it's similarities may just be its greatest strength. Fans of Pokémon games from the early 2010s will instantly fall in love with the visuals, design, creatures, and locations of this game, I know I did. If Gamefreak and Nintendo want to keep mainline Pokémon RPGs exclusive to its main consoles, and seem to have no intention of returning to the gorgeous eye-catching days of sprites and pixel art, why shouldn't new games look to move in and bring back to life this iconic era of monster taming titles. This is precisely what Coromon has done.
This game features a storyline that sees the player head out on a journey for a new technologically advanced organisation called Lux Solis. Your duty will be to head out into the big bad world to document the fantastic creatures that inhabit it, all while unravelling the mystery of why a certain shifty organisation is looking to release a dark power upon the world. To do this, you will have to create a varied team of Coromon to help you survive and move around the world and its many biomes, creatures capable of dealing with the threats of other Coromon and the other trainers who are also looking to make their name in this diverse place. Yes. It's very, very similar to a Pokémon game. But there are some vital differences that set it apart from the Nintendo IP.
First of all is the difficulty. Pokémon games are falling into a dangerous place where strategy is seemingly becoming less important as the years go on - you can pretty much just brute force your way through Sword and Shield. Coromon offers multiple different levels of challenge that you can face, where the hardest will see your Coromon released back into the wild should they faint in battle. It can be really hardcore, or the opposite, narrative-focussed, depending on what suits you, and that's an area that has never really been explored by Pokémon before.
Then there's the levelling system. Coromon features two different kinds of levelling; one which sees your creatures increase in actual level, getting boosts to all their core statistics; but there's also a second levelling system that gives players the opportunity to raise the attributes of certain statistics. Essentially, you could look to equally distribute points, or instead you could place points entirely into a damage or defence stat, to make for a serious glass cannon or rather a nigh-on indestructible beast.
It's the little areas such as these two that get me really excited for Coromon. Sure, there are a lot of areas that are almost reflections of Pokémon, but there are also plenty of features and mechanics that if added to a Pokémon game would feel revolutionary. Nintendo's IP, as incredible as it is, is starting to feel repetitive as content, ideas and creatures are pretty much recycled each time around. But, Coromon dares to be more, and has the chance to explore something new in this genre, which is why I, and players on PC, mobile devices, and Nintendo Switch down the line should be keeping an eye out for this monster taming adventure, when it does launch in 2022.