Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook lets you have your cake and eat it too

Another title to see during NIS America’s fall press tour is a bit of a niche release known as Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook. NIS America labeled it as one of its mid-tier titles, but it was among the few to see a demo featuring a Japanese version in development. Whereas Monster menu saw a Japanese release in January this year, it will make its way overseas in Spring 2023 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and bring with it a new PlayStation 5 version.

Just like Nippon Ichi’s bread and butter, Monster menu is a strategy RPG with a few survival tactics thrown in for good measure. Simply put, you’ll be tasked with collecting various things like ingredients and materials while blasting your way through dungeon crawling with, you guessed it, more monsters. Because what’s a dungeon without monsters to fight?

The element of survival comes into play through the unique system of having to cook meals with the items you have collected. You’ll have to survive the depths of the dungeon, after all, so munching on food will boost your stats. The bonus is that even monsters can be weakened if you use spoiled food so, as the title “Monster menuaptly notes, the focus is on those kitchen items as well as getting your group of finicky teammates out.

Personalization is key

Character customization is a big deal in Monster Menu.

Like other Nippon Ichi strategy RPGs such as Disgaea, Monster menu features battles on a grid system. Move on the grid, attack the enemies and move again. It’s the usual fair. It’s by no means flashy or quirky – those quirky elements are found in the surrounding mechanics – but it gets the job done.

Monster menu However, it’s not just about exploring dungeons or battling on a grid. There are also plenty of customization options, including changing your character’s appearance, job class, pose, and more. Jobs like swordsman, mage and even cook are there for you to have fun. As you might have guessed, the cook is particularly keen on cooking skills and can even act as a party healer. Other classes can use weapons such as swords and bows, but you can even fight with your hands if you want. As in any dungeon, Monster menu offers a variety of loot to have while exploring too.

One of the more interesting elements involves a more gruesome task of eating your enemy’s flesh. It’s not graphic by any means but it’s there and lets you consume the corpse of fallen enemies and even allies! This will restore your HP and activate a special skill during battle. This is something to consider if you find yourself in a tight spot, especially with corpse consumed which often dictates how much HP you recover and what skill you get for that specific fight.

Monster menu also includes other traditional RPG add-ons like crafting. Overall, it seems like there’s a ton to do between all the different items you can pick up, weapons and armor you can equip, and of course character customization.

Battles take place on a grid system.
Monster Menu uses a grid system during battles.

The characters themselves are colorful and creative, even if the art style largely pushes the kind of super deformed bighead anime aesthetic. This works for the original type of game presented. The maps look somewhat basic, but when you’re going to be spending most of the time battling on a grid, it doesn’t seem like it’s too distracting. Voiced characters are a plus, and as mentioned earlier, you can customize the voices of characters in your party.

These customization options along with the unique cooking elements continue to showcase Nippon Ichi’s talent for unusual yet interesting concepts. If you like dungeon crawlers, and more importantly, eating stuff, then Monster menu could be for you when it launches early next year.

TechRaptor was invited to see Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook during the Virtual Press Tour organized by NIS America.

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