We love Monster Hunter games for the unique experience they offer. There’s nothing quite like the rush of invading some hapless animal’s ecosystem, brutally murdering it for its parts, and then selling those parts for profit and better animal-murder equipment. We just can’t get enough of the heroic nobility of the poacher life.
And while the success of the Monster Hunter franchise has led to a lot of imitations, no other game does it better and in more detail than the OG. Since there’s nothing out there to confidently compare to Monster Hunter, I’ve picked out 4 games that don’t try too hard to copy its formula, and instead offer an adjacent experience, which is in many ways just as fun.
The God Eater games are perhaps the closest on this list to the Monster Hunter franchise, at least in terms of presentation. The gameplay is very different and a lot more frenetic, and the setting has its own distinct anime flavor. The monster hunting aspect itself is a lot less deep.
For me, the biggest advantage God Eater has over Monster Hunter is the setting. The nature of the monsters in this game makes hunting them feel somewhat less bloodthirsty, since the Aragami are more like god-beasts than animals. The universe the game’s set in is more original and interesting than the fantasy settings these games usually adopt, so that’s a plus for me as well.
While God Eater delivers on the anime flair, Dauntless has an almost Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic going on. It’s also about as deep in terms of gameplay and setting. The hunts are extremely streamlined, which can be a plus or a minus depending on what you want out of these games.
There is also a little resource collection system thrown in the mix, which is fun for a while, but I can’t help but feel it should’ve been expanded upon. Perhaps Dauntless 2 could run with it and be a true hunter-gatherer experience.
I may be crucified for saying this, but I personally find the combat in Dauntless more satisfying. It’s fluid and methodical, and the various obstacles monsters throw your way give it a sort of arcade feel. The weapons are very over the top, and using each one is like playing a different mini-game. I realize that for true Monster Hunter stans out there, these things would be a turn-off.
Hunters & Puzzles
Hunters & Puzzles is a mobile, F2P puzzle game that goes after the Dauntless aesthetic hard. While all these puzzle games are without exception re-skins of the same basic game, this one has just enough polish on top to make it kind of fun. Its short campaign story is not just palatable, but downright fine, especially by mobile gaming standards. It’s actually better than Dauntless’ “story”, although that doesn’t say much.
While being the least Monster Hunter-like game on this list, Hunters & Puzzles emulates the genre mechanics well enough for a turn-based puzzler. It also has a PvP mode, so it has that going for it too.
Super Kirby Clash
If you didn’t expect to see a Nintendo title on this list, that’s OK – neither did I when I started writing it. Nevertheless, Super Kirby Clash is indeed somewhat Monster Hunter-like, and is my favorite game on this list for a number of reasons.
First of all, it’s a 2D platform brawler, which is a format more games in the Monster Hunter genre should adopt, in my opinion. From positioning to combo chaining, all the usual combat mechanics are present, but the minimalist delivery feels more fun somehow. Realistically, a 3D environment doesn’t offer that much more freedom – the outcome is often the same, whether you are in a specific spot or 10 feet to the right of it. With minor exceptions, the additional “freedom” of movement is purely abstract.
In my opinion, the only thing that could make the Super Kirby Clash gameplay more fun, is the addition of a tracking phase before the actual fight, in which you platform around a short level, collecting powerups or smacking down lesser monsters. I realize that’s like adding a whole other game on top. I think it’s a good idea.
The second thing I love about this game is the self-conscious “free-to-start”. It doesn’t sound any less predatory than free-to-play, but this is a wholesome Kirby game and Nintendo just would not stoop down to putting that label on it. And yes, Super Kirby Clash has cosmetic items and playable content locked behind in-game purchases. However, the base experience is free, and fun enough on its own.
Finally, in Super Kirby Clash the sky occasionally drops food, which you can eat or toss directly into your fellow Kirbys’ mouths to heal them. Credit when credit’s due: shareable sky-food is something no other game on this list has.