Of all the games indie developers use for inspiration, I can’t say I was expecting Monopoly to be one of them. Still, I was optimistic for Rento considering my habit of playing Ubisoft’s Monopoly release on the Switch (I’m currently in the Top 200 on the online leaderboards). Maybe it would be a fun board game in its own right after all. Now that I’ve had a good amount of experience playing this one, I can safely say that Rento is literally another Monopoly clone.
There’s something I find oddly endearing about Rento‘s board. The honey beige color actually works nicely in its texture and you still have the multi-colored tabs throughout each side representing the properties. I also like the personality that comes out of customizing what dice colors or token styles you want to use. I would like it if I could do the same with the table and background, though.
The music feels very stock. While I wasn’t expecting to hear any masterpieces, I was sure there’d be more than just elevator-esque music playing on an endless loop. Monopoly had musical variety in a lot of its video game releases; of all the things Rento imitated, why was this not one of those aspects? It also feels like the game could use more sound effects. Nothing is heard when passing Go or if a person has to pay rent. In fact, there’s a sound error; no matter what the roulette wheel lands on, a negative jingle always plays.
You move around the board and buy as many properties as you can. Got all properties of the same color? Then you’re ready to build houses on them until your opponents weep as they desperately try to pay off their rents. Rento is Monopoly in every way, even in the little events that occur. You get $200 for passing Go. Free Parking and Jail spaces are at the exact same corners and rolling three times is sure to land you into the latter.
Well, okay. There are a few little things that are brand new here. One example is the roulette wheel; Chance and Community Cards are still present but the roulette wheel can potentially direct you to an unowned property or force you to mortgage. Replacing the Utilities outright is a property that can act as its own monopoly when bought by someone. There are also customization options that include how the spaces are arranged on the board and how much money each player starts out with. In some ways, Rento does have more to offer than Hasbro’s flagship game and for only a $9.99 price tag. In fact, the game appears to have cross-play between releases on other platforms; I was able to play online from the get-go with multiple people each time despite this Switch release not being out just yet.
However, problems lie beyond a weak presentation. There are some baffling bugs that, while they don’t occur all the time, still pop up at crucial points. Every now and then, no rent would be paid from one person to another despite said property not being mortgaged (let alone having houses built). In a similar fashion at rare instances, I wouldn’t be able to roll at all as the dice forget to appear. After my time is up, the game claims I’m replaced by a bot, but I can press A to hop back in easily. The problem is, that not only renders my turn used up, but that could be an unfair benefit for someone depending on the circumstances.
Rento has some things to like about it but I can’t recommend it as a superior alternative to Monopoly. If you’re a fan of Monopoly, you likely already have the official Switch version. And with Rento featuring a few questionable gameplay bugs, that alone could be enough for Monopoly players to stick with that Switch version. If you feel like seeing what Rento has to offer regardless, though, it does have its appeal beneath the cracks.
Review copy provided by Lan Games Eood