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A Keeper, with the four Starter Mons.
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Monster Sanctuary is a Mons Series RPG combined with a 2D Metroidvania platformer, with each tamed monster having special abilities to traverse the world. Developed by Moi Rai Games, and published by Team17 Digital Ltd. (the company that made Worms), an Early Access build of the game was released through Steam on 28 Aug, 2019, and the full version was released on December 8, 2020.

You play as the latest in your family's lineage of Monster Keepers, people with the ability to tame monsters. To hone your skill, you are sent to Monster Sanctuary, a land where Monster Keepers live in harmony with monsters they raise. But the arrival of unusually powerful monsters has broken the peace among the land. It's up to you and your peers to go on a journey to try to unravel this mystery!

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Tropes:

  • 100% Completion: There are achievements/trophies for getting 100% map completion as well as completing the Monster Compendium.
  • Ability Required to Proceed: As is standard for Metroidvanias, with the twist being that the abilities are tied to the monsters you possess rather than objects or direct powerups (with the exception of the Double Jump early on). Every monster has an exploration ability you can use to activate switches, reach higher ledges, break hidden walls, and more. Several areas are gated behind an ability provided by a specific monster that you can only get by completing previous areas; for instance, you cannot access Horizon Beach until you get a monster with a swimming ability, which you can first obtain after clearing the Sun Palace.
    • While most abilities can be found throughout the regular course of the game, the Blob Form and Levitate abilities are notable for being found only in the Bonus Dungeon or Bonus Bosses, respectively.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Averted. The level cap is only 42 (originally 40), which you are likely to hit by the end of the game.
  • Affably Evil: Alchemist Zosimos is so confident in his success that he's nicer to the Keeper than most of the Keeper's friends are. He challenges them to a fair duel and even gives them a monster if they beat him. That comes back to bite him immediately after he leaves.
  • After-Combat Recovery: All health and mana are restored after every battle.
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  • Ancestral Weapon: The Spectral Familiars are living versions of these, as ageless protectors of their families passed on from one Keeper to the next. It just so happens that you and your three Friendly Rivals are the current heirs to your bloodlines.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: When playing the randomizer mode, you're guaranteed to get an egg containing a monster with (improved) swimming in place of the Koi at the end of the Sun Palace. This includes Dracomer, which is an evolution and thus can't normally be obtained from eggs.
  • Anti-Villain: Rhazes joined the Order of Alchemists because he thought alchemy had a lot of potential. He's only in it for the science and doesn't care at all about power or revenge against the Old World, and only fights the player because Marduk lied to him and told him the Keepers intended to genocide the Alchemists just like the Old World's forces did. He pulls a Heel–Face Turn once he realizes you're not out to kill him, and opens up a shop after the Magma Chamber is cleared.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can swap between all the monsters you've raised (that haven't been left at the Horizon Beach farm) to get past map obstacles. But in battle, you're limited to a party of six, with only three in battle at a time.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The AI for Keeper duels is noticeably better than the AI for wild monsters, which is closer to A.I. Roulette. Keeper monsters will consistently exploit weaknesses, gang up on weak monsters, and apply buffs and debuffs intelligently. This is one of the factors making Keeper duels more difficult than regular battles.
  • Art Evolution: Prior to the Forgotten World update, later monsters had visibly improved spritework compared to the early game monsters. Shading is more prominent, faces and features have more detail over the "dot eyes" seen in monsters like Rocky and Worm, and battle animations are more fluid and unique. The Forgotten World release updated these early monsters to make the final product look more consistent.
  • Beach Episode: Horizon Beach, accessible after dealing with the Shifted Sun in the Sun Palace and getting a Koi, is a comparatively more lighthearted area that includes pirate treasure, gathering seashells, and a farm area where the player can watch their monsters play.
  • Blow You Away: Wind is one of the four elements in the game, with lightning-based skills classified as Wind.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Every area needs to be traversed to finish the game, with three exceptions: Blob Burg, which requires a lengthy sidequest to access; the Forgotten World, which requires revisiting an out-of-the-way location with an endgame ability; and Eternity's End, only accessible after achieving Keeper Master rank in the post-game.
  • Boring, but Practical: Fungi and Frosty, two mons you can grab in the second area of the game, can turn Champion battles into a joke. Fungi is built around inflicting Poison and Frosty is built around inflicting Chill, both especially damaging to Champions, and they have early access to Multi-Poison and Multi-Chill that let it stack more than once. Combine them with a strong healer and make use of Frosty's Shielding abilities and you can simply shield and heal while Poison ticks down and kills the Champion and Chill stops them from taking more than one useful action. You won't 5-star any Champions like this, but almost no Champion, even those resistant to Poison or Physical, can survive it indefinitely.
  • Boss Battle: There are two variants. There are Champion Monsters, that are (usually) a single powerful monster that must be defeated using regular battle mechanics. And there are Keeper Duels against Alchemists and fellow Keepers, which are full six-on-six fights.
  • Boss Rush: The final area has rematches against all the Alchemists you've fought against, but replacing Rhazes with Chymes. And Chymes uses your allies' stolen Spectral Familiars, all of which you've fought in the past, making the fight against him a more condensed rush in itself.
  • Broken Aesop: The backstory and Monster Compendium entries show that the kings of the Old World were wrong for their prejudice in assuming monsters were Always Chaotic Evil, as the monsters were able to coexist with humans when the Keepers approached them peacefully. Your rivals also repeatedly state that acceptance and tolerance are fundamental values of the Monster Sanctuary. However, characters also use the Big Bad's association with occult monsters as proof he is evil, implying they really are Always Chaotic Evil. This assertion goes completely unchallenged by the characters extolling the virtues of tolerance.
  • Cain and Abel: In the Underworld area, Leonard confesses that he had a more talented elder brother named Richard who was supposed to inherit the family's Spectral Familiar, but was passed over due to his willingness to put his monsters in harm's way. Said confession comes after Richard, now known as the alchemist Chymes (who already stole Will's Familiar), steals Leonard's as well.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Eric, an experienced Keeper with the rank of Dragoon, first appears in the Keep's Dungeons interrogating an alchemist you help imprison. Later, in order to gain the final Token to access the Underworld, he fights you to prove you're worthy. And even later, he makes an appearance in the final area and reveals he's been Marduk all along, having killed the real Eric decades earlier.
  • The Chosen One: The player is the first Keeper in centuries that is able to meet the Oracle beneath the lake in the icy tundra area, and be tasked with collecting Tokens across the Sanctuary. By the end of the game, they're also the only one to still have a Spectral Familiar.
  • Co-Dragons: Zosimos and Chymes are the most active Alchemists, and are mentioned to be Marduk's top two underlings during the final areas. Zosimos is fought in both the Sun Palace and the Underworld, while Chymes first steals Will's Spectral Familiar and later steals Leonard's and Julia's as well, before they're both fought in the final area. They're also the ones with the most developed backstory, with Zosimos being a former Keeper, and Chymes being Leonard's disgraced older brother.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each of the alchemists you fight throughout the game have robes matching the color of the element their team favors: Ostanes is green, Vallalar is yellow, Zosimos is blue, and Rhazes is red. Chymes, who uses a mixed team, is purple, the color of Non-Elemental attacks.
  • Combined Energy Attack: The Final Boss, the Mad Lord, after being defeated, refuses to perish...until all of your Friendly Rivals use their Spectral Familiars alongside yours to finish him off.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: You have to help Leonard get out of a pit he's gotten himself stuck in exploring Horizon Beach. He does as much as he can to let you know how much he doesn't like that.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • In Keeper duels, in order to be fair, the Keeper who goes first only gets to use two of their monsters on the first round. In duels against the AI (for example, a lot of the boss fights in the game) the player always goes first, which puts the player at a significant disadvantage in these fights.
    • The Spectral Familiars fought in Eternity's End can use all three of their Ultimates in the same battle, while your monsters can only choose one.
    • The dark Catzerker Bonus Boss possesses many abilities an ordinary Catzerker cannot obtain.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: Armor Break is the standard one, but some passives can turn other debuffs into this as well. In particular, the Dominance passive makes enemies take more damage for every debuff on them.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Dark-shifted monsters are stated to be more dangerous and aggressive than normal monsters and light-shifted monsters, especially when encountered in the wild. However, it's also stated that they retain their memories and personality after dark-shifting, and if treated with respect and care will still be good and loyal to their masters. As proved when the Caretaker of the Sun Palace's koi, which has been dark-shifted against its will, sacrifices its life to restore balance to the Sun Palace.
    • Zig-Zagged in regards to occult monsters. While most of the entries in the Monster Journal insist that monsters are normal creatures who don't deserve persecution, the entries for demonic monsters are much less favorable, with some monsters even stated to have subjected their keepers to Mind Control to hatch nefarious plots. Additionally, Trevistan considers Marduk's connections to the occult to be proof he is untrustworthy, implying occult magic is inherently evil. However, you can use occult monsters yourself to no ill effect.
  • Dead All Along: A late-game revelation is that Keeper Dragoon Eric was the victim of a Kill and Replace 23 years ago, long before the start of the game.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist:
    • Other than losing a portion of your money from fighting wild monsters, losing doesn't have much of a consequence. Losing the Oracle's challenge, or any other Champion Monster fight, has no consequences whatsoever.
    • Hitting a death hazard will just cause your character to flash a few times, then place you back on a safe tile nearby.
  • Defector from Decadence: Zosimos was a former Keeper that joined the Alchemists because he believed the Sanctuary was too focused on its own preservation, when the power of monsters could reshape the whole world.
  • Degraded Boss: Monk is the second boss and appears later as a regular monster. Minitaur appears as a boss, but is itself the degraded form of Megataur, which can be fought as a regular encounter later. Steam Golems, one of which served as the Warmup Boss, are a regular monster in the Mystical Workshop. However, this is most prominent in the final area, where Specter, Beetloid, Raduga, and Qilin can all be fought as regular encounters after serving as Champions earlier.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Monk is the second boss you fight and appears as a Degraded Boss in the third zone you explore, but can easily stay on your team throughout the game due to its high power and versatility. Since Monks' attacks can hit six of seven major resistances by level 10 (Earth is the only one not represented) they're guaranteed to have something that isn't defended against and extremely likely to have something that hits a weakness. If that wasn't enough, Monk can also cast Heal and Agility. The only problem is that you won't have enough skill points for everything you want.
    • Mad Eyes are found in the third area (the Stronghold Dungeon), and are one of the best debuffers in the game. They're one of the very few monsters with access to all four elements, giving them even better coverage than Monks, and each of their attacks inflicts a debuff. As a bonus, they themselves resist debuffs and physical damage. They become less impressive once you get access to stronger damagers and start encountering more magic attacks (their Achilles' Heel), but they remain useful throughout the whole game.
    • While regular Blobs are Com Mons, Ice Blobs are very useful in the early- to mid-game. They can be obtained very early (right after the Blue Caves), and gain early access to the extremely powerful Congeal ability, which turns Chill into a Damage Over Time effect. They're devastating against the water-vulnerable monsters in the Sun Palace and especially the Magma Chamber, which are the next areas you're likely to visit after the Snowy Peaks where they're obtained.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Earth is one of the four elements in the game, with nature-based, poison-based, and crystal-based skills classified as Earth.
  • Don't Shoot the Message: In-universe, arguments are given from multiple characters - including the player character - that one shouldn't dismiss alchemy in its entirety just because the Order of Alchemists happens to be full of revenge-obsessed fanatics. It turns out the Order's evil isn't even related to alchemy anyway. Their leader is possessed by an occult entity.
  • Doofy Dodo: Zig-zagged. At first, the Dodos’ naivety ended up endangering them when humans found their tropical island. However, unlike our real-world counterparts, they soon quickly learned how to fight back. Through the help of the first Keepers from the recently built Monster Sanctuary, they successfully warded off their invaders. To repay their benefactors, the Dodos became faithful mounts for the keepers ever since.
  • Double Jump: One of the first abilities you obtain, and one of the few that's tied to an item rather than a monster.
  • Dragon Variety Pack: There's a small category of dragon monsters, which includes the crocodile-like Ninki line, the firefly-like Glowdra, and Skorch, which looks like a cat made of molten wax. The Draconov line contains different kinds of "traditional" dragons; Draconov and Dracozul are wyverns, Dracogran is a bipedal European dragon, and Draconoir is a serpentine long. Also, it's implied that Dinosaurs Were Dragons in this setting.
  • Exposition Fairy: Your spectral familiar. Unlike most other monsters, it can talk, and provides you with information about the Sanctuary and Keeper culture when relevant, in addition to giving you a reminder if you ever forget what you're supposed to be doing at the moment.
  • Final Boss: A Keeper Duel with Marduk, followed by a Champion fight against the Mad Lord.
  • The Fog of Ages: Your spectral familiar states that, despite being immortal, it has difficulty remembering details from too long ago. This conveniently prevents it from spoiling plot mysteries regarding the history of the Sanctuary.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: Every attack falls under one of the classical elements, or is Non-Elemental. Fire is self-explanatory, but water encompasses ice, earth encompasses plants and poison, and air encompasses electricity.
  • Friendly Rival: The three other Spectral Keepers, Will, Julia, and Leonard. Julia fits this best, while Will and Leonard are variations.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Reading the journal of Dread Pirate Carter has him describe Marduk's mask as a demonic face, and Marduk's power turns out to be demonic in nature.
    • When the player reaches the door to the Underworld with only four Tokens, Eric shows up to see if you're worthy of being given the fifth, having watched your progress with the help of his Mad Eye. It's later (or slightly earlier) revealed that Mad Eyes are associated with Marduk, who Eric was all along.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Wild monsters' tactics amount mostly to random flailing, but monsters in Keeper duels are much more intelligent, using actual tactics and consistently exploiting weaknesses. This makes sense, given they are being directed by a Keeper. Additionally, Keeper monsters have better stats than wild monsters, implying they have equipment and food bonuses just like yours.
    • It's mentioned before the Final Boss fight that some of the gameplay elements, such as After-Combat Recovery and Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, are due to the Sanctuary Genesis maintaining an environment that prioritizes the protection of its denizens, Monster and Keeper alike.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: When you arrest Ostanes after the goblins catch him, Julia shows up and secures the situation, claiming she's able to do so because of her high rank of Keeper Lancer. It's possible by this point for you to be the same rank as her. It's also possible, even probable, that you'll outrank Leonard even as he's talking down to you about how you're not qualified to fight Champion Mons, but that wouldn't be out of character for him.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: In order to access the final areas of the game, the player is tasked with gathering five Tokens across the Sanctuary, most of which are guarded by Champions.
  • Guest Fighter: A secret area of Blob Burg that opens up after defeating the resident Champion Monster contains recruitable versions of the Worms from Team17's most noteworthy series.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Rhazes, the Alchemist met in the Magma Caverns, accepts his defeat and admits that there are better ways to preserve the art of alchemy than subjugating people with it, deciding to ultimately assist the Keepers. There's also Trevisan, the Alchemist who helps the player navigate the Mystical Workshop and uncover evidence that Marduk's apparent immortality is due to dangerous occult magic rather than alchemy, as well as locate at least two post-game Bonus Bosses.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the Sun Palace, the Koi of the Keeper that's been assisting you sacrifices itself to shift the artificial sun back to normal. The last bits of its energy turn into two Koi eggs: one for its former master, and one for the player.
  • Horse of a Different Color: There are a number of rideable monster mounts that help keepers traverse the terrain faster, and only one of them is horse-like in nature (that being the Qilin). There's also Aurumtails (a bipedal kangaroo-like lizard), Moccus (plague boars), giant Dodo birds, and the Gryphonix (a Gryphon/Phoenix hybrid).
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Leonard accuses your spectral familiar of being this for you. His spectral familiar is actually his, being the only reason he wins fights and acting as the voice of reason allowing Leonard to actually deal with other people without being hated by everyone. Losing his familiar actually gives him the push he needs to become better in both regards.
  • Ice Magic Is Water: Ice-based attacks are categorized under the water element, and equally effective to monsters with weaknesses to water, even if they are fire-based.
  • Impersonation-Exclusive Character: Keeper Dragoon Eric, being the victim of a pre-game Kill and Replace.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: It turns out Leonard has a case of this, as he eventually admits that his older brother Richard was better than him in nearly every aspect when growing up. The only reason Leonard became the spectral keeper instead of his brother is that Richard was even more of a jerk than Leonard is. Which, in turn, gave Richard a case of this and led him to become the alchemist Chymes.
  • In Their Own Image: The Alchemists' plan is eventually revealed to be this, using the Sanctuary Genesis, the device that created and now maintains the Monster Sanctuary, and can only be modified by the combined magic of four Spectral Familiars, hidden within the Abandoned Tower.
  • Irony: Marduk is said to wear a mask in the shape of a demon's face. Marduk actually doesn't wear any mask, and is possessed by an occult entity. Instead of him wearing a demon's face as a mask, a demon wears his face as a mask.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is the Abandoned Tower, which as the name implies, is a vertical climb.
  • Jack of All Stats: Changelings have perfectly even stat distribution, which is fitting for their adaptable nature. Light-shifted Changelings maintain this distribution, but dark-shifted Changelings focus on attack and health, making them lean more towards Glass Cannons. Changelings also count as all monster types, allowing them to benefit from all family-centered passives.
  • Jerk Jock: Leonard, one of the rival keepers, believes that everyone else is beneath him, belittling the player and Will as early as his first appearance.
  • Large Ham: Ostanes liberally peppers their conversations with maniacal laughter and just loves to talk to the player. It seems to be limited to the player alone though, as Keeper Eric comments on how quiet they are right before Ostanes realizes you're there.
  • Level Scaling: Played with. The scaling only occurs the first time you encounter an enemy; after that, they'll stay at that level for the rest of the game, meaning Level Grinding is still possible. Additionally, the scale is based not on your own levels, but on the amount of the map you've explored; these usually correlate, but you can end up underleveled if you explore more than you fight.
  • Limit Break: Upon reaching Level 40, a monster can gain access to three Ultimate skills that all have a three-turn cooldown in addition to a high Mana cost. And unlike the rest of the skill tree, which requires an item to reselect skills, the player can freely change which one of the three Ultimates is equipped.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Many passive abilities have both a random chance to trigger and a random effect. This is mitigated by the fact that most monster attacks proc the chance several times, but you can still get wildly different results from the same actions. Given how Nintendo Hard the game is, this can lead to frustrating close matches where you don't know if your strategy is at fault or just your luck.
    • The Status-Buff Dispel mechanic is unreliable enough to deserve its own example: It primarily comes in the form of a passive, Cleanse, which gives every attack a 25% chance to clear an enemy buff. That might seem reasonable given most monster attacks can hit upwards of 4 times... but enemies generate so many buffs so quickly that it barely makes a dent. It's not until the late game that you get skills that guarantee a dispel.
  • Magikarp Power: Several monsters aren't competitive at all until they get their level 20 skills.
    • Catzerker is the best-known example, being encountered at level 3 as an extremely fragile Glass Cannon who doesn't even hit especially hard due to dealing mostly Neutral physical damage. At higher levels though Catzerker turns into a powerful Critical Hit Class with a Herd-Hitting Attack, and since nearly nothing resists neutral damage it can wipe out entire teams in one swing.
    • Specters start off outclassed by Mad Eyes in almost every way, as they're similarly based around debuffs, but are limited to only Burn and Chill. Once they hit level 30, however, they get access to Congeal, which turns Chill into a powerful Damage Over Time effect. Mad Eyes do not share this ability, making Specters better for raw Damage Over Time power. Specters also gain access to Spectral Cannon at level 20, giving them a powerful burst damage option instead of just playing support.
  • Making a Splash: Water is one of the four elements in the game, with ice-based and acid-based skills classified as Water.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Mad Lord is one to Marduk, taking advantage of the latter's circumstances and resentment to enact his own plans.
  • Mana Burn: The chill debuff reduces the amount of mana that a monster regenerates at the start of each turn.
  • Master of None: A problem among a lot of monsters with equal attack and magic, but most notable among the Tanuki. While he has the ability to copy any other move, allowing him to do anything, none of his stats or Shifts allow him to do any of the things you'd want him to do particularly well.
  • Metroidvania: Has the exploration and platforming elements of one, crossed with a Mons Role-Playing Game. Catching new monsters gives you additional abilities to explore the world and unlock new areas. The game is remarkably non-linear even by Metroidvania standards; after completing the first dungeon, you can go straight to nearly every area in the game.
  • Monster Compendium: The player has access to one, which contains lore and unique artwork for every monster encountered in addition to their item drop rates. It's mainly sorted by area, with the exception of monsters added to secret rooms after most of an area was initially developed (such as the Manticorb), and the Bonus Bosses.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: By gaining access to the Abandoned Tower in order to confront the Alchemists, the protagonists allowed the Alchemists, who lied about the Tower being their base, to follow behind them and gain access to the Sanctuary Genesis.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In the Sun Palace, Zosimos surrendering the Koi he stole after being defeated in a duel, after boasting how his plans are too late to stop, leads to the Koi sacrificing itself and immediately stopping his plans. Additionally, it led to Light and Dark-Shifted monsters appearing throughout the Sanctuary, which you and your fellow Keepers recruit and use against the Alchemists.
  • Non-Elemental:
    • Neutral is an element outside of the four main elemental types. Almost all monsters have at least one neutral skill, like punching or biting, and while some magical skills, like Spectral Flame, resemble fire, they are classified as neutral instead of fire. Interestingly, neutral damage is actually not truly Non-Elemental, as some monsters have a resistance or vulnerability to it.
    • Brutus is notable for being the only monster with no weaknesses or resistances, not even to Neutral itself. Additionally, its only attacks are neutral physical ones. This makes it useful in almost any circumstance, as it will never be weak to any opponent. (Though it will still have trouble against enemies that are resistant to neutral or physical damage.)
  • Noob Cave: The Blue Caves get bonus points for being a literal cave. It is the first area after the Keepers' Trail, and it's required to complete in order to unlock the rest of the map.
  • Olympus Mons:
    • Interestingly, you start with one of these: The spectral familiars are immortal quasi-deities who helped construct and uphold the Sanctuary, and they have guided the four bloodlines since the founding of the Sanctuary. Statistically, however, they're not outstandingly better than other monsters.
    • More traditionally, champion monsters (other than the first few) are unique, meaning you can only get one instance of them per playthroughnote . Most of them are still regular wildlife according to the lore, but some are stated to be deities or demigods of immense power.
  • One Curse Limit: While you can stack multiple types of Status Effects, you can't apply more than one instance of each type. Some monsters can learn passive abilities that allow them to break this rule, allowing them to apply one extra stack of all effects or two extra stacks of a specific one.
  • The Place: The entire game takes place in the titular Monster Sanctuary.
  • Plague Doctor: The first Alchemist you encounter has this look due to their hooded robe and bird mask. Subverted with the Alchemists as a whole, as each of them wears a different mask. The Plague Egg monster is also modeled on this look, except that it's an actual bird wearing a plague doctor's hat.
  • Playing with Fire: Fire is one of the four elements in the game, with solar-based and explosion-based skills classified as Fire.
  • Raised by Humans: Other than Spectral Familiars that are passed down to each generation in certain families, most of the monsters you obtain are hatched from an egg. At the beginning of the game, your Spectral Familiar teaches you the best way to have a loyal companion is to raise them.
  • Redemption Demotion: Champion monsters have massively boosted health and multiple actions per round in order to make them meaningfully challenging for a three-on-one fight. When you hatch your own, they're on the same scale as other monsters.
  • Regenerating Mana: Monsters regenerate mana every turn at a rate determined by their Mana score. Regeneration rate can be boosted through passives and equipment, as well.
  • Rejected Apology: After Marduk admits his Demonic Possession, Leonard says it's not much of an apology, and has to be talked out of outright killing him. Everyone eventually agrees that Marduk should be locked up for life... which, even without the Mad Lord still powering him, will be a very long time.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Literally. After the Sun Palace Caretaker's koi sacrifices its life to restore balance to the dark-shifted sun, two more koi eggs emerge from the newly restored sun, and the Caretaker calls it a miracle that his beloved companion has come back to him. The game isn't quite clear on whether it really is, or if it's just a new monster of the same type, though.
  • Sequence Breaking: The game has an intended path you're supposed to take through the zones, guided by the plot. There's often nothing restricting you from going everywhere else though, and since the levels of monsters scale to yours the first time you enter a zone it's very easy to clear some zones long before you're supposed to be there. A specific case of this is that, if you're very persistent or very skilled, you can get through the Sun Palace without ever starting the plot proper leading to a Duel with Alchemist Zosimos before you've been taught what Keeper Duels even are.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sidekick: Will fills this role for the player after losing his Familiar early on, frequently relaying important research he uncovers to help make progress.
  • Situational Damage Attack:
    • Thunder Strike deals 3 ~ 4 additional hits when it hits a shocked target. The amount of additional hits vary depending on the level of the skill.
    • Deep Freeze and Poison Eater deals additional hits based on the amount of chill or poison stacks on the target respectively.
    • Lava Rush ignores 50% damage reduction when it hits a burning target.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: Every monster has three to five skill trees, usually focused around a specific type of move (a Buff tree, a Critical Hit tree, etc.). One skill point is earned per level, new tiers of skills are unlocked every ten levels, and all skill points can be refunded with an item.
  • Smoke Out: Smoke bombs are items used to flee from battles.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Threatening Geography: Every area of Monster Sanctuary is a stock video game setting, and although the game allows for some Sequence Breaking, the game's actual plot is structured in a way to guide the player from the least- to most-threatening, as follows:
  • Spirited Competitor: Julia is the most duty-minded of the Friendly Rivals, but is still more than willing to treat the Horizon Beach treasure hunt and the search for the Key of Power as competitions with her fellow Keepers.
  • Starter Mon: The game lets you begin with one of four Spectral familiars, each with their own elemental affinities and field moves; Wolf (Wind/Water/Neutral) & Lion (Earth/Fire/Neutral) can cut vines with Claws, Toad (Water/Earth/Neutral) can Tackle large stones, and Eagle (Fire/Wind) can carry the player over large gaps. The player can recruit monsters with the talents of the other starters, though, so nothing will be permanently blocked from them. The other Starters can also be recruited in Eternity's End, after defeating every other boss.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: Monsters with the Cleanse passive have a 25% chance to remove buffs with every hit of their attacks. If you want more reliability, the Cleansing Flame and Arcane Diffusion abilities are guaranteed to remove up to 3 buffs per use.
    • Sutsune are notable for having a passive ability that lets the party steal buffs instead of destroying them. This ability is shared only by the post-game Bonus Boss Aazerach, making Sutsune the premier way of dealing with enemy buffs.
  • Status Effects: A whole bunch of 'em. Notably, unlike in most RPGs, they don't expire over time, making restorative abilities and Status Buff Dispels vital to any team.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: While each Friendly Rival has a default partner (Toad for Will, Eagle for Julia, Lion for Leonard), they will instead have the Wolf if the player picked theirs, subtly implying that Wolf is the preferred choice for your starter.
  • Superboss:
    • There are completely optional Champion Monsters, either hidden in hard-to-reach areas or only accessible following the defeat of the Mad Lord. Fighting them all grants the player the highest possible Keeper Ranking, and with it, the player can access Eternity's End from the top of the Keep and fight extra-powerful Spectral Familiars to win their eggs.
    • Defeating the Gryphonix Champion gives you access to the Legendary Keeper Hall, where you can fight 25 opponents of very high difficulty.
    • Keeper Masters can also fight An absurdly-strong dark-shifted Catzerker in the Mountain Path.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Following Leonard losing his Spectral Familiar to his evil brother, he's forced to confront his own insecurities, and develops into a nicer (at least to fellow Keepers) individual.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The old man at the beach's grandfather, Dread Pirate Carter, was a legendary Keeper whose ship could come and go from the Sanctuary at will, one of the few able to do so. According to a hidden journal, he's the one that brought Marduk and his Alchemists into the Sanctuary despite his suspicions of them, after being paid an enormous bribe in what turned out later to be fake gold.
  • Victor Gains Loser's Powers: The alchemist Chymes gained access to an elixir that lets him mimic another's bloodline, allowing him to steal Will's Spectral Familiar after winning a duel early in the game's story. He later takes Leonard's Familiar the same way, but the elixir is unnecessary, as they're actually related. In the final area, he takes Julia's as well. Interestingly, he claims that this method was invented not by alchemists, but by the founders of the Monster Sanctuary. Your familiar denies this claim, but it's never elaborated upon.
  • Warmup Boss: The Steam Golem Champion Monster, the first boss of the game, tends to focus on non-elemental Tackles rather than exploiting weaknesses or buffing its own defenses. However, rematching it at the Keeper Tower will scale its level up to match yours in addition to making it use better strategies.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: The player needs specific monsters to swim, else they immediately sink to the bottom of any body of water.
  • Water Is Air: Oddly enough, being underwater isn't much of a detriment to Keepers or their non-aquatic monsters, to the point that, in Horizon Beach, your rivals are capable of talking just fine while completely submerged. This can later be attributed to the Sanctuary Genesis.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • Some monsters are weak to Non-Elemental damage. Yes, really. Potentially subverted if you've been neglecting your Non-Elemental skills because you assumed this wasn't possible, but if you haven't you can defeat them quite easily, since Non-Elemental skills tend to be cheaper.
    • The Mad Lord is weak to physical and magical damage — in other words, everything. It's still a Marathon Boss due to its mountainous Health score, but if you have passives that capitalize on exploiting weaknesses you can go to town.
  • Weird Sun: The Sun Palace area is named thus because it houses an underground, artificial sun. It briefly being Shifted in an attempt to drive monsters crazy causes Light and Dark variants of every monster to appear throughout the world.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Even after confronting Chymes in the final area, he doesn't return Will's Familiar or Leonard's or Julia's; instead, the combined magic gets contained within the Sanctuary Genesis, leading to the Final Boss fight.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Evil: Basically any member of the Order of Alchemists who isn't an Anti-Villain only in it For Science! (ie. Rhazes and Trevisan) is going to give the player a lecture along these lines.
    • Ostanes is a lunatic who just thinks causing mayhem is fun. He actually seems to think that the heroes are only using their monsters to help people because they haven't yet realized the Power Perversion Potential of controlling an army of monsters.
    • Vallalar just wants money and power, and doesn't get why you don't.
    • Chymes wants To Be a Master and cares only about having the strongest monsters and the most power. He doesn't necessarily care about using that power to get anything for himself, he just wants to be the best. He calls the heroes naive for trying to care for their monsters instead of being the best. This is because he has an Inferiority Superiority Complex due to being passed over as a spectral keeper in favor of his little brother, Leonard.
    • Zosimos specifically calls out the Sanctuary's forces for using their monsters for keeping the peace instead of conquering the world. In his case, though, it's a case of You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!, as he believes that the Monster Keepers are selfish for only using their powers to uphold the Sanctuary instead of fixing the problems of the Old World.
    • Marduk sees the potential to not only have a powerful monster army, but to actually become a god. Though he's less interested in the monsters, and more in the Sanctuary Genesis.

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