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Monster Hunter Stories 2 Character flying on dragon
Image via Capcom

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review | Who Said Slaying Can’t be Cozy?

It's Monster Hunter, but cozy!

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is the Pokemon game I was begging for as a kid. It gives you that classic monster-hunting Pokemon experience, but with a taste of that freedom that we were all screaming out for before Pokemon: Legends Arceus came out, with a more in-depth battle system to sweeten the deal even more.

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But while it is almost impossible not to draw parallels with Pokemon when it comes to this monster-collecting game, it is still very much a Monster Hunter experience. If you’re worried about missing your favorite monsters or even the core gameplay loop of Monster Hunter here, don’t be. Monster Hunter Stories 2 is still Monster Hunter through and through, just with a little Pokemon sprinkled in there. And how could that be a bad thing?

Monster Hunter Revitalized

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is not a new game. It has been available since 2021 but has recently been remastered along with the first Monster Hunter Stories title. And that fresh lick of paint truly did wonders for the experience.

My previous experience with Monster Hunter Stories 2 was rough around the edges, to say the least. It wasn’t a bad time, but there were noticeable frame rate drops, especially in densely populated areas like the towns and villages you visit throughout your adventure. Although to be brutally honest, that experience was on the Nintendo Switch, and I will not go as far as to say that that had nothing to do with it, I am happy to report that the PS4 remastered version of Monster Hunter Stories 2 ran like a dream.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin Rutoh Village
Screenshot by Prima Games

It is, however, a remaster, not a remake. So, don’t expect anything groundbreaking in terms of graphics. The art style does take a more simplified and cartoonish approach, which honestly suits the charm and vibe of the game perfectly.

Clear Your Schedule for the Foreseeable Future!

We all know the most important part of a video game is not how it looks. It’s how it plays. Is Monster Hunter Stories 2 fun? Absolutely. The core gameplay loop is very reminiscent of mainline Monster Hunter games. It goes like this: monsters are terrorizing people. You go and fight the monsters and return to town with just enough time to craft a new outfit with the monster bits you harvested before someone else is terrorized by another monster. You see where I’m going with this.

It’s a simple gameplay loop, but it’s heavily enjoyable, which is good, because Monster Hunter Stories is packed full of content that you can easily spend over 100 or even 200 hours on. And will that be enough? Probably not! The simple fun that Monster Hunter Stories 2 provides will hook you from the beginning. Hopefully, there is nothing too pressing in your backlog, because it’s not letting go.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin Cutscene
Screenshot by Prima Games

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a cozy, charming, and quaint Monster Hunter experience. Some may even describe it as Monster Hunter for kids. While they wouldn’t be wrong in saying that, and I have certainly never felt quite as 31 as I did when I was asked to input my age at the beginning of my adventure, there is still plenty here to keep you entertained as an adult. Particularly when it comes to the battle system and managing your monsters.

The battle system, much like the rest of the game as a whole, is simple at first glance, but far more in-depth than you may initially give it credit for. The core mechanic of these turn-based battles is a rock-paper-scissors type of deal. Monsters have three main attack types: Power, Technical, and Speed. Speed beats Power, Power beats Technical, and Technical beats Speed.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin Battle
Screenshot by Prima Games

This is simple enough and may even set you up to believe that the game is going to be an absolute breeze. But once you take into account things like monsters switching up attack patterns, elements, and weapon proficiencies, things do become more challenging. You might even die once or twice throughout your adventure, which is a good thing. You don’t want to be able to play a game with your eyes closed.

The entirety of the battle is also not in your control. This is a JRPG adventure, but you don’t get to command every character in your team. You can only control your own moves. So, while you may know the secret to success in any battle, you can’t account for your monster or companion, if you’re traveling with one, not to make any stupid decisions that will leave you wishing someone put you in charge.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin Battle Animation
Screenshot by Prima Games

But that’s all part of what keeps those battles exciting for the 40+ hours it takes to complete the story and beyond, because 40 hours is simply not enough in Monster Hunter Stories 2. If you do get tired of the battles, however, which you probably will (as stunning as the animations are), there is a handy fast-forward button that speeds through them and helps take the edge off the repetitive gameplay loop.

We’re Not Kidnapping, We’re Monster Hunting!

If you ever get tired of exploring in Monster Hunter Stories 2, there is a whole other side of the game to embrace that mainline Monster Hunter games don’t have – monster collecting. Rather than throwing a Poke Ball at your desired victim, I mean… monstie… Monster Hunter Stories 2 goes for more of a straight-up kidnapping approach. You sneak into a monster den, fight the monster if it’s there, or tiptoe around if it’s asleep, choose an egg, and skedaddle out of the nest, ideally before the monster wakes up and tries to end you for stealing one of its future children. And we can’t really blame them for that.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin Egg Hatching
Screenshot by Prima Games

You then take your new monstie to a Stable to hatch it and add it to your team. This is my favorite part of the experience as a whole. There is something so wholesome (kidnapping aside) about growing your family of monsties, and I truly did get attached to all of them. As you progress, you will unlock even more mechanics to spice things up, like gene splicing. And the best part is no one in the game will judge you for any of these potentially shady actions!

It’s In the Name…

I know I have been talking this game up. And it does deserve it, but I can’t continue avoiding the elephant in the room. Nothing in life is perfect, Monster Hunter Stories 2 included, and there is one glaringly obvious flaw that was making awkward eye contact with me throughout my entire experience and the writing of this review.

It seems strange to say it, but the worst part about Monster Hunter Stories 2 is the story. Monster Hunter has never been known for an in-depth and gut-wrenching story. But that was supposed to be the point of this title. Monster Hunter, but with a story. Right?

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin Kinstone
Screenshot by Prima Games

But the story here is lackluster at best. It’s fine, but it is very predictable. There are no plot twists to speak of, and my butt remained firmly yet comfortably planted in the seat of my couch. But hey, at least you won’t have to go through an entire box of tissues or damage your chairs by perching on the edge of them for over 100 hours.

While the story itself is nothing groundbreaking, the charming, cozy, and enjoyable gameplay that Monster Hunter Stories 2 provides still did more than enough to keep me entertained for an ungodly amount of hours.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Monster Hunter Stories 2 is the perfect cozy game for any Monster Hunter fan, or any cozy game fan, for that matter. It is wholesome, simple, and fun. An incredible story would have made this game even better, but it is still an excellent experience regardless.
  • Incredibly charming artstyle and characters.
  • Heavily satisfying gameplay.
  • Simple yet effective fun.
  • Charming and enticing battle mechanics and animations.
  • Lackluster story.
  • Repetitive gameplay loop.
  • Battles can get a little tedious.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PS4.

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