Bangers and (monster) mash
Slaying hordes of monsters is a rather nasty business, isn’t it? Between the countless hours of brutal combat, the pesky “staying alive” aspect, and the quite unforgiving nature of the task in general, it’s really about as far from glamorous as you can get. It’s probably pretty easy after a while to succumb to the personalities of the nasty beasts in which you are currently engaged in a life-or-death struggle, and I suppose that I couldn’t really blame anyone for becoming a little monster-like after going through something as unfathomable as that. Still, there are others who manage to retain as much poise and dignity as possible while doing the dirty deed. Thanks to the preview build of Monsters and Monocles we here at Hey Poor Players got to try out, we’ve learned that it’s possible to save the world from monsters and make it home in time for tea. While an important lesson indeed, that may not be enough information for most of you. What else does Monsters ad Monocles have to offer so far? Well, let’s find out!
Pip pips and cheerios aside, Monsters and Monocles is a top-down, arcade-like twinstick shoot ’em up that, as previously mentioned, has players taking down monsters in a style not too dissimilar from the classic Gauntlet arcade series. The control setup is very basic, making it very easy to pick up and allows for basic movement and the ability to fire in all directions (although that was probably pretty obvious). Initial mechanics aside, Monsters and Monocles also makes use of an ever-so-helpful dodge roll. Unlike many games, players cannot dodge roll consecutively; rather, a blue bar at the top needs to charge up before rolling. Rolling consumes the bar entirely, but it begins to charge all by itself pretty might right away. I actually kind of enjoy the way that it is set up. Although I am undoubtedly one of those people that, if allowed to, rolls everywhere in a game, I appreciate the fact that Monsters and Monocles forces you to plan your dodging a little more carefully considering the fact that you’re completely invincible while rolling.
Monsters and Monocles also features a nice selection of guns, and a very streamlined way of using them. Players at any time may hold two guns, each of which has its own unique strengths and weaknesses and range anywhere from revolvers, to flamethrowers, to slime guns (whatever those are). Rather than having ammo, however, guns overheat. This of course means that, while you’ll never have to worry about ditching a gun because you’ve used your last clip, you do need to worry about how often you’re using it. Many of the weaker weapons are incredibly difficult, or impossible, to overheat, while the stronger weapons tend to get overwhelmed much more easily. Because of this, the game kind of forces you to strategically pick and choose what may be best for your current situation. Of course, that’s not to say that you’re given a full selection of firearms right off the bat. Guns are dropped at random by enemies and can be bought at shops. Because of this, what you end up with is partially up to chance, so you had better become acquainted with what you have!
Level progress is made by moving from one floor down to the next, although it isn’t as always simple as it sounds; this is because within every floor lies an objective. These objectives, which are in essence clear conditions, appear to be generated somewhat randomly, can range anywhere from killing a certain amount or type of monsters to unlocking a door… by blasting it with what appears to be a minigun that uses keys for ammo (it’s really, really satisfying to use). Sometimes there isn’t an objective at all, but don’t let that fool you either; you’ll still have to fight your way through hordes of monsters in order to make it to the staircase. Killing monsters isn’t all that bad though; throughout your journey you’ll find plenty of loot within containers (barrels, crates, etc), treasure chests, and as monster drops. Loot can range anywhere from the basics, such as money and tea (used to restore HP, of course), to new kinds of guns, and power-ups. The loot distribution is overall very satisfying, making any attempt to entirely clear out a floor quite enjoyable (not to mention rewarding). I do have a bit of an issue with some of the power-ups though. Nearly every power-up that you pick up (aside from the powerful and rare Relics) seem to have some sort of +/- effect; you become stronger but have more recoil, or your defense increases but you become slower. While I certainly don’t mind that the power-ups have mechanics in-place to help prevent characters from becoming game-breakingly strong, I do wish that the effects would be displayed before picking them up (thus permanently adding them to your inventory). Other than that, everything’s just peachy.
Between nice layout of and variance between the game’s procedurally-generated levels, the great diversity among weapon types, and quirky overall theme, Monsters and Monocles is shaping up quite nicely; plain and simple. However, with that being said, I will issue one warning; it is hard. The scores of monsters, while never too much, are definitely placed in a way that could possibly overwhelm new players, and the bosses are definitely set up to take down any players not up to snuff. Lives are also shared among players while in multiplayer, so it’s definitely a good idea to make sure that your team of do-gooders is a skilled one before venturing off into the city (or the pyramid) in order to fight off those baddies. If you’re up to the task, however, Monsters and Monocles definitely seems to promise a good time for all.