Let’s face it, making your way through high school can sometimes feel like a nightmare. And that’s especially true when it comes to the dating scene. But the makers of a popular new dating simulator called Monster Prom are offering kids the chance to toss a few demons and vampires into the mix, to reimagine their school days as a true monster mash.
There are lots of dating sims out there for every taste and inclination. This one mixes quirky and cartoony characters with creative quipy writing and a twangy ’60s guitar vibe—creating a sense of style that’s as infectious as a zombie plague.
Until you dig a bit deeper, that is.
The goal in Monster Prom is pretty self-evident: get a date for the upcoming prom. You’re a student at Spooky High School, a typical Frankenstein or fire-demon guy, gal or it who just realized that there are only a few weeks left until the big event. So it’s up to you to woo one of six popular beastie besties to take your rotting arm and accompany you to the monsters’ ball.
Charismatic creepster candidates here include a mermaid princess named Miranda, a demon dubbed Damien, a werewolf named Scott, a vampire named Liam, a ghost named Polly and Vera the Gorgon. Each character checks a requisite box representing typical high school types and tropes—from the vapid party girl to the dumb-but-hunky athlete. You get to know these undead dateables by visiting various rooms in the school in the hope of encountering and charming them, while participating in activities that raise your character’s appeal stats.
Of course, you’ve got to start with a baseline stat count, so you gain points for boldness, creativity, intelligence, charm, etc., by filling out a personality quiz in a teen magazine. The quiz helps find out what kind of “deviant sicko” you are. And it helps set up which of the monster love interests might take a fancy to you.
The game itself can take either 30 minutes to play in short mode or about an hour-and-a-half for a longer playthrough. You can play solo or take turns in a monster date competition with up to four buds. And, of course, multiple playthroughs are encouraged with 22 different possible story endings, 388 possible in-game events and nearly 1400 possible outcomes.
As any pimple-faced kid who’s screwed up his courage to ask someone out knows, however, a winsome exterior only goes so far. Eventually you get to see what makes a girl, guy or game tick, who they really are down deep. And Monster Prom, well, has its hairy issues.
The game’s quirky and humorous writing has gained quite a bit of critical praise. But it’s definitely not stuff for young monster-lovers—no matter how much the artwork might suggest otherwise. The game’s spooky school kids are more than happy to howl about their favorite, very adult, activities.
Party girl Polly Geist, for instance, is really into any thrill-seeking activity that includes wild sex, ecto-cocaine and deadly risks. Drug and alcohol use seems as common as gym class with this gang. We hear of students swigging scotch at lunch and using hallucinogens at wild parties.
Gender is a very fluid thing in this monster community as well. Players can be whatever he, she or they label themselves. And they can flirt verbally with anyone they encounter. Also in the sexual realm, dialogue references porn, fan-fiction erotica, and discussions about various sex acts with live and inanimate objects. We don’t see any actions onscreen, but they’re suggestively winked at aplenty. Dialogue boxes contain written out f- and s-words, too.
Yep, when the sun finally rises and the night creatures scurry away, it’s easy to see that the unrated Monster Prom isn’t as cute as it superficially seems. It’s an appealing looking jack-o’-lantern on the outside. But once you reach in, there’s more icky mush and bad seeds than you might be expecting.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.