There are other currencies in the game that are harder to come by. The gems that are necessary to upgrade your monsters are rare, and it requires a ridiculous amount of them to utilize. I evolved my main critter a couple of times into a water dragon, but got bored with hunting down gems. Some of this, admittedly, is because a lot of the best loot is available through multiplayer mode, which I haven't been able to play (more on that in a second).
Daily updates + multiplayer campaigns = hours of game play: I played through the main campaign for several hours. The game does a good job of letting you level your monsters up as you progress, so you're never overwhelmed. But in any single player mission, you'll find that only three of the monsters are yours — the fourth is a "helper" that you can borrow from another player. Not only is it in your best interest to choose a super-powered helper, but you can also ask them to be your friend afterward.
It's a clever move to add friends to build a network of fellow players, and that's a huge factor in the game's favor: the daily events show that the developers care about the experience, and making friends with other players helps build up a community.
You can recruit or join a team, but since this is limited to your immediate area (using location services), I found I didn't have any players to connect with. Thus, some of the better monsters and gems were unavailable to me. While frustrating, I instead just hop back over to the single player campaign and get grinding.
While I admit that some of the art is rough, the currencies need to be better balanced, and the combat mechanic (like any RPG) gets repetitive, I actually found myself playing this game long after I normally would for a review. Monster Strike hits that sweet spot between a player's collecting obsession and the challenge of frenetic combat on a daily basis. Best played in short sessions — but equally great as a time suck — Monster Strike is worth checking out.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.