Monsters and Monocles

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7

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Monsters and Monocles is a frantic top-down shooter with rogue-like and bullet hell elements

What is Monsters and Moncoles?

Monsters and Monocles has just been released into Steam Early Access. It is a steampunk twin stick shooter being developed by Retro Dreamer, a California-based game developer. Although this is their first game on Steam they have a history of creating games for mobile devices. Players who fear that this may be a mobile game can put their minds at ease as it has been developed as a PC game. Although it would seem like their ambitious title it shows a lot of promise.

 

Heavy Emphasis on Co-Op

One of the predominant features of the game is co-op play. Thus far I have spent time with two friends in local co-op mode while online is available as well. Personally, it seems like what makes co-op so much fun is the way in which the ruleset has been implemented. You get an opportunity to revive teammates. However, reviving teammates come at a cost as you have a shared pool of lives. As a result, this made our group seriously strategize on when the best time to revive a teammate was. Typically you would rush in and revive a teammate as soon as possible. However, because of the shared pool of lives we often took our time to do so. We generally cleared entire rooms before reviving a teammate.

The co-op mode is some of the most fun that I have had in any local co-op game. The game genuinely rewards smart and conscious team play and punishes those who want to go hero. I look forward to spending time in the online multiplayer. I can imagine quite a few people rage quitting and complaining of having poor teammates. The reality here is that the player rage quitting may be the poor teammate. My word of advice is to not be a hero but to work with your teammates even if they are less skilled than you. It’s like a team sport. There isn’t an I in ‘team.’

Monsters and Monocles

The game places a heavy emphasis on strategic co-op

A Note on Single-Player Mode

Despite a significant level of focus on the co-op mode, there is a single-player mode available to play. The single-player game, obviously, feels different to the co-op. There is an increased level of challenge (difficulty) in the single-player mode. Those of you who have played similar games in the twin stick shooter genre you will be prepared for the challenge that this mode brings.

I have found both modes to be enjoyable for different reasons. I love playing the game with friends who I can develop a level of cohesion with. When we die we’ve died as a result of our combined actions. When we’ve succeeded it has been through a joint effort. We’ve laughed, learned and bonded together. The single-player experience offers a rewarding challenge that feels as though it will only improve with continued development.

Weapons

My favorite part of the game is the variety of weapons that are already available. It’s a challenge finding out what the best weapons are for your individual playstyle. This is because there are some that will strengthen your playstyle whereas others weaken it. If you get the right weapon for your style you almost feel as though you’re overpowered. However, getting the wrong one can quickly see you become a liability as a teammate or die in single-player mode. Consequently, until you have had a chance to study every weapon type and how it effects your style you’ll face a risk-reward system.

Monsters and Monocles

There are a large variety of weapons incorporated into the game

Playability

Monsters and Monocles already plays very well. However, it is not nearly as polished as similar games such as Enter the Gungeon. For a game just recently released into early access, this is, in my opinion, acceptable. But there are flaws and weaknesses to the game that the developers are well aware of. Mechanics such as dodge definitely need work. As of writing, I don’t believe that you can change the controller options from the settings menu. Every time I choose that option I can hear the sound that I have pressed but I am not taken to the next menu.

Is it Steamified?

Not yet. The game has achievements on the Steam store but they have yet to be added to the early access form of the game. Steam user Batmobilly asked this on the discussion forums and received the following developer response:

Achievements are planned for, but won’t be in until closer to the full release – we know what we want a lot of them to be, but while mechanics are still in flux it doesn’t seem right to have them unlock at this point.

The game has yet to have Steam trading cards included. However, as it is an early access title these are generally added closer to the retail release date as a further motivation for potential buyers.

Verdict

Monsters and Monocles is a tremendously enjoyable experience. Both single-player and co-op modes are developed to a significant degree. The game is very playable. Of course, being an early access title it isn’t as polished as some of the instantly recognizable games in the genre but that’s to be expected. Consequently, the asking price may be considered a little high when compared to titles such as Enter the Gungeon but I believe that the price will be well worth it as development continues. Therefore, if you’re looking for a new title in the genre I would recommend the purchase.

Good

  • Well developed single player and co-op modes
  • Large variety of weapons
  • Shared lives pool requires strategy in co-op

Bad

  • Needs more polishing (but is in early access)
  • Mechanics like dodge require work
  • Settings customization
7

Good

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Warwick is a graduate of Curtin University. He is one of three people in the world (that we know of) to hold degrees in professional writing, marketing and Internet Communications. He is a passionate sports and gaming fan dedicated to cheering on his beloved teams (Carlton in the AFL, the Blazers, Patriots and Angels in American sports and Man City in the EPL), gamer and dog lover. His favorite genres are adventure, RPG and card games.