Monster Train is probably one of the few modern roguelike deckbuilders to truly stand toe-to-toe with Slay the Spire or even surpass it. I glorified it in my review of the base game, and true to my word, I put over 100 hours into the game after finishing my review. After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve had the opportunity to tackle The Last Divinity, Monster Train’s first paid DLC after a few free content updates. The Last Divinity plays it safe with a whole new deck type, a few new cards sprinkled hither and forth, and a new boss that can be accessed by collecting a high-risk, high-reward currency called Pact Shards.
The new deck type offers a mechanic centered around Charged Echoes. These pastel-colored whatsits collect on each floor in which Infused cards are played. Infused cards are simply any card that randomly gets a card border that gives it the infusion perk. This new mechanic couples with Reaping debuffs that hurt enemies similar to Frostbite but don’t go away and are completely dependent on a multiplier effect with Charged Echoes. Other mechanics are also introduced, such as Shelled enemies that hatch into powerful units, Etching that creates a buff when Consumed cards are played, and so on. This DLC has been playtested on test servers with enthusiasts, so the depth and balance have been fine-tuned.
Without spoiling too much, the new boss is definitely a different experience from any other enemy in the game, but the fundamentals remain true: kill it quickly before it kills you. This boss can be accessed by collecting Pact Shards, which are offered after every fight on the train map. Players either get an immediate benefit upon clicking shrines accessible between each boss, such as gold or an artifact, or they get to decide how to buff or combine cards for extra power at a separate screen. As players collect these shards, the enemies get healthier, deadlier, and gain new abilities. Gathering too many too soon can mean an early defeat, so players should take a measured approach depending on how they build their deck.
I beat The Last Divinity pretty quickly but found all of the additions satisfying. While the new deck type didn’t click with me at first, I soon realized how to work its magic and found myself surprised at how fresh it feels compared to all of the other mechanics. Although it’s nothing revolutionary, the way I approach the game and build my deck has changed once again, and that’s about the best any enthusiast can hope for when using a new family of cards.
To say I would have liked something more feels a bit greedy. The developers have provided a decent amount of new content while maintaining the delicate balance of the game. Hardcore fans have new Expert Challenges to explore and ways to rack up an even higher score, and newcomers will be treated to more finely tuned cards and spoiled for choice. But if I’m completely honest? The Last Divinity feels too safe. At $12 on the sticker price, I would have hoped for something a little different than the same old Monster Train, because while the DLC adds more cards and mechanics, nothing has significantly changed. If you’re reading this, rolling your eyes, and saying, “Oh, come on, it’s DLC, not a new game,” I get it. This may all just be the whining of someone who has put in over 130 hours and has most of the achievements. By all means, if you just want more Monster Train, then this DLC is a no-brainer. If you want something that’s going to turn the game on its head, add a meaningful story, or “wow” you, this is not the DLC for you.