Adore Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Pokémon made waves when it debuted on the Game Boy back in the '90s, introducing audiences to a new type of RPG that went on to become a global phenomenon. Since then, many have tried and failed to capture that same kind of experience, though it seems there’s been a renewed push in the last few years for indie developers to try out their own unique takes. While titles such as Monster Crown and Cassette Beasts have mostly followed the turn-based formula Pokémon first demonstrated, others such as Monster Sanctuary took things in a new direction. Adore, the latest release from the Brazil-based Cadabra Games, clearly falls somewhere closer to the latter group, and while it doesn’t absolutely nail the execution of its ideas, it certainly brings something new and interesting to the broader subgenre.

Adore takes place in the world of Gaterdrik, a world ruled over by a good dragon named Draknar and a bad dragon named Ixer. Ixer kills Draknar in a big fight and seemingly dooms the world to darkness, but a piece of Draknar’s soul survives and attaches to one of his followers, an Adorer named Lukha. All Adorers can tame and summon various monsters that live in Gaterdrik, and now that he’s been juiced up with the power of his fallen god, Lukha sets out on a journey to finish the fight using the power of the monsters under his command. It’s not a terribly interesting story, but it gets the job done and provides just enough lore to keep the world from feeling empty or directionless.

Adore Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Adore’s gameplay feels a bit like Pokémon by way of Diablo, with a hint of random generation thrown in there for good measure. The typical gameplay flow will see you picking a mission from the world map and loading into a small, randomly generated dungeon consisting of a few connected rooms. Each room in this dungeon will contain a few monsters you need to battle before moving on, and once you’ve achieved your objective, you can then take a warp back to base. You control Lukha directly, and he goes down awfully quickly if he takes any hits, but he’s fortunately protected most of the time by the various monsters at his disposal to do all the fighting for him.

Combat unfolds in real-time and you can have up to four monsters in your party at a time, one mapped to each of the face buttons. Tap any face button, and you’ll burn part of your slowly refillable stamina bar to summon the respective monster, who will quickly unleash their attack or skill and then return to you. The thrill of combat thus comes down to timing, as you have to determine on the fly which monsters you should call out next and precisely when to do so. Some enemies are weak to specific attack types, for example, or can be made more vulnerable by sending in an opener who can debuff their defense.

You’re also incentivized to regularly rotate the monsters you use, as any monsters not in active use build up charge on their special attacks, which trigger powerful effects when fully charged and unleashed in combat. Every monster does different amounts of damage at varying speeds, but most importantly, they are also vulnerable to damage as long as they’re out. Once a monster has lost all its HP, it won’t die, but any further damage it takes will come directly out of Lukha’s health bar. And if Lukha dies, you’ll drop all your gold and some upgrade materials, which can lead to ridiculously costly defeats if you were saving up too much.

Adore Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Combat feels very fluid, then, as you’re constantly juggling cooldowns on monsters while repositioning Lukha as needed. It can be a lot to keep track of at once, and sometimes combat can seem a little too busy for its own good, but luckily most monsters don’t demand perfectly optimal play to bring them down. This is for the best, as your complete lack of control over a monster once it is summoned can be a little irritating. Sometimes they’ll target the wrong enemy in a group, or they’ll miss an attack that could’ve easily been landed by the player, and such gaffes can make fights take longer or have a greater cost to them than you planned.

Once a monster has been brought down low enough, you can then opt to ‘catch’ it by playing a brief minigame where you have to keep Lukha in a small, constantly moving zone around the monster while a gauge fills up. All the while, the monster is taking shots at you, and if you leave the zone too early while evading them, the gauge will stop filling or start to decrease. This mechanic offers a nice way of adding tension to every attempted catch, turning the end of a battle into a riveting dance with death as you try running out the clock before Lukha gets skewered.

There are four different ‘types’ of monsters that all species fall under, and this lends itself well to an interesting synergy system for building your team. Every monster has a series of hidden passive abilities and attacks, but these can only be activated if it’s given a ‘monster essence’ that matches the type of at least one other monster on your active team. So, if you want an extra attack for your Meecra when it gets summoned, you’ll have to give it a Nature essence and ensure that you always have a Nature monster in one of your four slots. Not only does this system force you to choose which buff or attack you want to activate for a monster on your team, but it also gives you a lot of incentive to vary your team compositions and experiment with new loadouts.

Adore Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Monsters can also be upgraded directly, either by simply leveling up from participating in combat or gaining skill points from being in your party when Lukha activates special statues. These skill points can then be manually distributed via small trees for each beast, allowing you to further hone the niche you want each monster to fill while also giving you latitude to have different monsters of the same species specializing in different roles. This customization system helps add depth to your loadouts, which feels like a sufficient means of compensating for the relatively low species count—there are only 39 monster species in the whole game.

Lukha himself can be upgraded, too, via the use of runes and artifacts that you find in your dungeon runs. These grant him various stat buffs and passive abilities, such as an increased charge rate on monsters’ special attacks, and you can swap them out for different loadouts depending on your next objective. We appreciated how much variety this gives you in making a build for Lukha, especially given that runes and artifacts can be leveled independently to strengthen their effects, though some of the requirements can feel like more busywork than they’re worth.

Really, this is a symptom of a broader issue with Adore, which is that it can be too grindy for its own good once the initial sheen wears off. It feels a bit like endlessly running challenge rifts in Diablo 3, only there’s no loot and the rewards that you can get from each run are limited in scope. It doesn’t take long until you start to notice the random generation repeating room types and layouts, which can sometimes mean that you’re literally running the same rooms that you’ve already done a dozen times. The combat is interesting enough and the rooms are each short enough that the gameplay loop never feels like it completely breaks, but Adore is definitely the kind of game that’s best played in short bursts here or there—long play sessions only magnify the repetition.

Adore Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Visually, Adore sticks to a simple but effective 3D art style that closely apes the looks of Torchlight and Diablo. Environments all have an appealingly natural and magical aesthetic, but tend to be rather forgettable given the lack of notable landmarks due to random generation. And though the monster designs are nowhere near as iconic or memorable as the kind seen in Pokémon, they still do a decent job with the whole 'ordinary animals, but magic' thing.

The graphics may be fine, but unfortunately, Adore notably struggles to maintain consistent performance on Switch. Though the resolution looks reasonably sharp in both docked and handheld, the frame rate is quite often uneven. It's not awful, and in limited cases it appears to be holding well to its 60 FPS target, but it doesn’t take very much for it to tumble down to 30 FPS regions. In our experience, the frame drops didn’t enormously affect gameplay, but it’s nonetheless a disappointing and persistent issue. If you're after a locked 60, you'll want to investigate other platforms.

For its music, Adore generally sticks to a warm, acoustic kind of sound that goes heavy on the guitars. It fits well with the overall serene and quiet atmosphere that the whole experience clearly goes for, and though some tracks felt like they replayed one too many times, we appreciated this somewhat unique audio direction.


It may be a little uneven, but Adore nonetheless stands out from the pack as an innovative new entry in the monster-catching RPG subgenre. The fast-paced combat, detailed team customization, and high level of replayability all make this one easy to recommend, though we say this with the qualifier that performance could be better and the gameplay loop can get pretty grindy. All the same, we’d give this one a recommendation to anyone looking for an interesting new monster catcher — it’s a welcome addition to the genre and we hope to see its ideas further explored in future games.