UPDATE: This game has been shutdown and is no longer available
Monato Esprit Overview
Monato Esprit is the first game to make use of the MetaTIX virtual currency, which completely replaces the traditional in-game currency found in most MMORPGs. With no NPC shopkeepers or vendors available, players must barter between themselves and use MetaTIX to participate in auctions, receive certain quests, and enter certain dungeons. Loot found on monsters is used to craft gear and consumables like potions, which makes it possible to play without having to pay for the virtual currency. Besides the unique economic model, Monato Esprit is a very generic fantasy MMORPG. Players start as a novice and chose between six classes upon reaching level 5. The classes are:
Hwarang - Offensive warriors who use two-handed swords to inflict heavy damage.
Templar - Defensive warriors who use shields and heavy armor to protect themselves and absorb enemy blows.
Mage - Offensive spellcasters who command the four elements and cast devastating spells. Mages wear cloth armor and wield staffs.
Cleric - Supportive spell casters whose holy spells heal and buff allies. Clerics wear cloth armor and use wands.
Harlequin - The rogues of Monato Esprit. Harlequins rely on stealth, cunning, and a degree of showmanship to gain the advantage in a battle.
Sheriff - Ranged fighters who use firearms to deal damage from a safe distance. They are weaker than the melee classes in close combat.
Monato Esprit Screenshots
Monato Esprit Featured Video
Monato Esprit Review
By Erhan Altay
Monato Esprit is the first game to be published by the company Reality Gap, which has developed the new virtual currency platform, MetaTIX. What sets Monato Esprit apart from other free MMORPGs is the way the it handles its game economy. There are no NPC vendors or shopkeepers; instead there is a 100% player-driven economy where gamers must barter and trade using MetaTIX purchased from the official website. How does this interesting take mesh with an otherwise cookie-cutter fantasy MMORPG? Read on to find out!
While the client is available for download on the official site, players must register an account on a separate site, me.metatix.com. Monato Esprit is only the first of many MMORPGs that Reality Gap hopes to release using the MetaTix system, so your metatix account will serve as a universal account for all future releases. Character creation is a simple affair; there is only a single default race, the Archons, which are winged humanoids. Players can select between 8 hair styles, 9 hair colors, 4 eye styles and 4 eye colors, along with their character’s gender. For a 3D game coming out in 2009, this is not exactly detailed appearance customization; no matter how you arrange the few options, characters end up looking very similar to one another. To compensate for this, players are able to chose their character’s horoscope (12 choices) and preferred season (4 choices.) Each choice provides a different bonus to the player, for example the ‘Virgo’ horoscope grants players +10% accuracy.
A Long Lesson
After character creation, players are given the option to either run through the tutorial or skip it and head right to the city of Isildra. New players are strongly urged to take the tutorial route for a number of reasons. The first is to get a feel for the game, but the second and more important reason is that by the time players are through with the tutorial, they’ll be at level 5; at which point they will be able to chose their first class. The tutorial suffers from being far too long-winded. Each NPC you encounter teaches a different lesson; the first explains movement, the second combat, the third alchemy (crafting), and the forth dungeons. It is important to practice all four, but does that really require a dozen dialogue boxes? I found myself hitting ‘next’ as rapidly as possible and simply reading the quest overview in my log afterwards to see what I was asked to do. The tutorial moves along rapidly, with each NPC eventually asking you to move further down the road to the next one – up until you get to the first dungeon, when things slow down a bit.
Dungeons in Monato Esprit are instanced and while some can be entered freely, others require MetaTix to gain admission. While this puts many of the top tier dungeons out of reach for free players, you’ll be glad to know that you won’t be missing much. Dungeon designs in Monato Esprit are similar to those in Corum Online or Mabinogi; they are repetitive, dull, and mostly empty. Wandering through countless identical rooms with poor mini-map support can get a bit frustrating, especially when looking for a particular kind of monster. Eventually, after completing the trial dungeon quests and a series of talk quests, players will be ready to head to the mainland. Isildra is the city of beginners and serve as a base of operations for many levels to come. It is here that players will find the class change NPC by paying attention to the mini-map. Luckily, all NPCs who have quests available are clearly marked on the mini-map by large ‘!’ icons. There are six classes currently available in Monato Esprit; the offensive Hwarang, defensive Templar, powerful Mage, supportive Cleric, roguish Harlequin, and gunslinger Sheriff. A series of kill quests are required to complete the class change process, at which point the player’s level is reset to 1 and their appearance changes along with their class.
Cookie Cutter Combat
The game controls much like other Korean fantasy MMORPGs. Movement is done exclusively with the mouse, while keyboard shortcuts are available to open menus and perform skills assigned to the toolbar. Movement and combat feel a bit slow-paced and the graphics leave a lot to be desired. There are very few graphic settings and the maximum resolution is 1280×1024. The visuals themselves aren’t high quality, but still look nice with a ‘cutesy’ appeal. The game’s visuals reminded me of Final Fantasy 9, while others have said it looks like ‘a chibi version of Ragnarok Online 2.’ But it isn’t graphics that make the game; it is gameplay and community. Monato Esprit has been available for several months now in various stages of beta, but it is only in July of 2009 that it has been officially released; it still supports a very low population. Players are unlikely to bump into others, which gives the game a very bleak atmosphere despite the warm art style. The gameplay just feels too generic; players gain skill points as they level up to distribute among several skills including buffs, attacks, and passive bonuses. The only element that stands out in Monato Esprit is the economy.
It won’t take long for players to notice that the monsters they kill don’t drop any sort of currency. They do drop other items such as vials, pelts, and other resources which can be used to craft new equipment. Almost everything players need is craftable, though players will first need to read the recipe for the item in question. Recipes are one time use only but will allow the character who uses it to craft that particular item from then on. The tutorial shows players how to craft health potions through the alchemy screen; each item requires a number of reagents found by killing certain monsters. It is these reagents and finished products that players trade with one another through a barter system or by exchanging MetaTix – the premium currency which can only be obtained by spending real dollars. Players can enjoy Monato Esprit without ever spending a dime on MetaTix since the expansive crafting system allows almost every item to be crafted, but the lack of a standard game currency does get annoying, especially when tolls are required to access certain parts of the game. MetaTix cost 100 for every $1 and can be purchased in customized batches. It won’t take long for the average gamer to decide for themselves whether Monato Esprit is a game worth investing their time and money in, but in my humble opinion, Reality Gap could have found a better game to test out its new virtual currency system with.
Final Verdict: Fair
Monato Esprit is a typical fantasy MMORPG whose unique take on a player-driven economy doesn’t save the otherwise bland gameplay. With limited graphics and gameplay options, Monato Esprit feels like a much older game that has so far failed to attract a large audience.
Monato Esprit Videos
Monato Esprit Character Creation
Monato Esprit Tutorial Video
Monato Esprit Combat Footage
Monato Esprit Links
Monato Esprit System Requirements
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 2000
CPU: Pentium III
RAM: 128 MB
HDD: 1.75 GB Free
Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce MX or equivalent
OS: Windows XP / Vista
CPU: 2.0 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent AMD processor
RAM: 512 MB or more
HDD: 2.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce TI or Radeon 9200