Monster-collecting games were in vogue for awhile in the late 90s and early 2000s, and the genre’s never really gone away since then. Those were the halcyon days of catching ’em all, though; Pokémon was hot, but we also saw plenty of me-too games that had high points of their own to distinguish themselves from that venerable series. Siralim 2 feels like it would be fit in back in those days as a worthy successor to the monster-wrangling throne.
Perhaps the game’s closest relative is the classic Dragon Warrior Monsters series. The most recent localized entries in that series, Joker and its sequel, are relatively standard Pokémon-likes taking place in a hand-crafted 3D world. We’re not talking about those today, though; we’re talking about the goofy, weird Game Boy Color games. They essentially took Pokémon, Dragon Quest and roguelike elements and mixed them together long before everything having roguelike elements was cool. They were awesome games. Siralim 2 brings them back.
The plot here is light; you’re the King or Queen of Siralim, a magic kingdom that will soon be under siege by the villainous Misery. Your job is to prepare for Misery’s coming. This is largely done by recruiting a stable of collectible creatures and upgrading them in myriad ways; while you’re periodically given story beats to follow, these amount to “get further in the dungeon” and typically don’t force you to do anything you wouldn’t be doing anyway.
Siralim 2 will grab you and keep you held entranced for hours if you’re the right kind of gamer, but what’s the key to the game’s staying power? It’s not the graphics, that’s for sure; they’re a few steps above MSPaint quality, but only a few. It’s certainly not the plot, either. Instead, Siralim 2’s gameplay and the many ways you can develop your monarch and their monsters are what keep the proceedings feeling fresh.
You’ve got hundreds of monsters to check out, for instance, and each has a unique special ability. One might allow other monsters of its family to attack at the same time it does, while another might provide bonuses to its allies so long as it remains on defense. Finding effective synergies between monsters is both key to victory and a great time. You’ll always want to be obtaining more monsters just to find out if there’s one that will complete the goofy team composition you’ve been working on.
Exploring the game’s procedurally-generated dungeons with your team is a great time as well thanks to the endless and varied stream of rewards that constantly pours in as you play. You’ll obtain new monster cores, new spells for your monsters to use, gear to equip, resources to spend and so on. You’ll also seek favor with many gods, each of whom offer unique perks and monsters, and if that’s not enough you can also spend perk points obtained by currying their favor to further enhance your monarch.
You can craft gear, engage in randomly-generated boss battles, gamble, cook food for buffs…the list of possibilities is endless, and each offers a way to get a leg up on your opponents. In a way, Siralim 2 represents a fusion between the monster-collecting gameplay of Pokémon or Dragon Quest Monsters and the endless potential of a Nippon Ichi Software game. It’s a match made in heaven, really.
Don’t get me wrong; Siralim 2 isn’t the perfect game. The graphics, as mentioned, aren’t great, and it can be a little unstable. For the price, however, it manages to offer far more than its fair share of enjoyment, and those RPG fans who can look past the questionable exterior are bound to find much to like here.