Kaiju, those giant city-crushing Japanese monsters, were big business back in the day. 2013’s Pacific Rim showed us that they can still capture viewers just the way ol’ Godzilla did, even in the West, and 2018’s sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, uh…was a movie that existed. Even the return of the Godzilla and King Kong films made our favorite city-destroyers popular all over again. Put all that out of your mind, though! We’ve got a new kaiju property on our hands!
Dawn of the Monsters is the latest beat-’em-up from 13AM Games and it’d very much like to remind you why you fell in love with huge lizards in the first place.
When the monstrous Nephilim arrive to lay waste to the world, mankind finds itself in danger of extinction. As usual, though, humanity is down but not out. By capturing a pair of Nephilim and converting them to their cause, as well as calling upon a genius mech pilot and an empowered human with the ability to turn into a kaiju-sized hero, the defense organization DAWN will serve as the last bastion of the species. Will it be enough? Well, that’s really up to you and your skill at brawlers.
Pick your kaiju, mech or superhero and get to fighting! You’ve got your Godzilla takeoff Megadon, your crabby boi Ganira, your shooty giant mech Tempest Galahad and obvious Ultraman reference Aegis Prime; choose your favorites and get to work. Each has their own moveset, with special Rage attacks and ultra-powerful Cataclysm attacks available for use via a recharging energy meter. What’s more, you can block enemy attacks to your heart’s content, meaning a lot of that arcade-style life drain from enemies hitting you without any way for you to stop it feels a little less unfair.
Each character’s got different specialties. Ganira’s crabby shell makes for great defense, Galahad does well at range and Aegis is an offensive powerhouse. Megadon was, of course, the obvious choice, and I spent most of my time using him. He’s Godzilla, after all, and he’s got a pretty balanced set of abilities besides. I did find myself a little disappointed with his abilities at first, since Godzilla’s atomic breath needs to be a torrent of destruction rather than a cute lil’ baby flame, but that’s where the Augment system comes into play.
See, completing stages will earn you Augments that can be spent to upgrade each character. These add stats in the tried-and-true percentages-of-stuff style as well as sometimes offering additional tweaks to skill properties. Keeping everyone up to date is vital and this means replaying stages to dig up more loot, with better performance yielding better goodies. You’re definitely meant to interact with this system; ignore it at your peril as you’ll find the stages become too difficult to deal with.
If that’s the kind of cycle you’re into that’s fine, and I personally had no trouble with it, but if you’re looking for a more action-focused arcade experience this might end up becoming a chore.
Dawn of the Monsters is a pretty solid package all in all. If I had one complaint, it might actually be with the presentation: your characters are meant to be literally larger than life, giant warriors that tower above cities, but the game actually tends to feel like you’re playing with action figures and leveling toy towns. Come on, guys, it’s a kaiju game, you really have to put some emphasis on being big and stompy! That aside, the comic book style is awesome and well-suited to the content. Likewise, there’s a fair amount of voice acting and it’s all got more TLC than you’d expect from a game of this stature, so enjoy.
Aside from the Augment system throwing a tiny wrench into the works, Dawn of the Monsters doesn’t really want to be more than a kaiju-flavored Streets of Rage. That’s a formula that works and 13AM Games does it justice with a great presentation, solid voice acting and snappy combat. While I’d like to feel a little bit more like I’m a giant, catastrophic force of nature, I’m fine with Godzilla of Rage, and chances are you will be too.