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Monsters and Monocles

Monsters and Monocles

Written by Aidan Kelly on 9/6/2016 for PC  
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Good evening chaps. Might I borrow your ears for a moment to discuss matters pertaining to Monsters and Monocles? It is a busy top-down shooter for 1-4 players developed by Retro Dreamer. It tells the story of a gentleman, a lady, a dog…and a robot? So the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. Players can choose from either Rupert Killingsworth, Lady Canonhail, Baron von Dogface or Monobot. The gang operate from an airship, a wooden one at that, and all members carry a revolver for the defence of Queen and Country. The first dungeon is even set in a large manor house, a house which has Victorian era architecture and furnishings. Inside, a mad scientist releases a swarm of monsters via his failed or successful experiments.

The game appears to be set during Victorian times and the level and character design take its cue from this. I feel like Retro Dreamer chose this setting to produce comedic relief through the contrast between sophisticated Victorian associations versus the chaotic gameplay players are set to encounter All party members must be present before the game launches a dungeon. The airship is fairly large and boasts multiple rooms. The room on the top left is used to upgrade items which characters can use whilst clearing a dungeon. There’s also an engine bay and an empty room on the far right which is inaccessible to players. Players choose which dungeon to enter from the wooden airship. Go north from the living room (the one with the tea party) and laid out before the player are six levels. Three immediately available and three silhouettes. Each level is procedurally generated and random objectives allocated per level, think The Binding of Isaac. Unlike TBI the objectives of each level is randomly allocated by the AI. To clear level one the AI might require you to kill X amount of a certain type of monsters. Level 2 might ask to kill X amount of enemies, regardless of type. Another level will simply require the player to survive and find the way out. This keeps boredom at bay, somewhat.

Players can get lucky, or very unlucky depending on what was procedurally generated. Lucky players might simply need to run to the exit or kill X amount of enemies. Unlucky players will be sent to hunt certain beasts whom are bullet sponges for the most part. The game can be played individually (I would NOT recommend this) or with up to 3 of your friends via LAN or online. The LAN mode works as a drop in/drop out mechanic where players can “Press Start” to join friends in the airship and even whilst they’re clearing a dungeon. I really like how the game doesn’t take itself seriously, and allows friends to come and go as they please. Nowadays it’s difficult to find a game which allows players to play from the same screen. This game does a great job at facilitating this for players.

At the beginning of each dungeon the party is given two lives. Both lives are shared throughout the party and if playing solo than obviously Player 1 gets both lives. Whilst mowing down the monsters you encounter coins will drop. These coins are used between the levels of each dungeon to purchase health and weapons. It’s crucial that each player has at least 1K-1.5K before descending to the next level. While weapons do drop from destroyed ads, the best drop I’ve gotten is a grenade launcher. You’ll want this immediately. When purchasing weapons between levels I would highly recommend you pick up a grenade launcher and one of the following; a machine gun, heavy machine gun, Gatling gun or missile launcher. In other words you need to embrace the inner John Rambo and throw on Solid Snakes bandana granting infinite ammo. Be wary of the cooldown timers on each weapon. Some heat up quicker than others and if you’re not careful disaster will strike. The game does seem to have a plateau of weapons though. These include hand cannons, a blunderbuss, shotguns, assault rifles, stake launchers, slime launchers and even Crumpet Canons. I’m sure I’ve missed out on a few that haven’t dropped for me yet so if you spot any missing be sure to mention them in the comments below. Ads also drop character and weapon upgrades. These include shoes, vests, hats and weapons. Perks include speed, defense, movement, fire rate, damage, recoil, knockback bonuses among others. I’m unsure whether or not the names of these items have any relevance to the story of the game. Vulcan boots don’t ring any bells for me. I really don’t recommend this game if you’re going to play it solo. The enemies are bullet sponges and the firepower delivered from even heavy machine guns is underwhelming. Ads can surround and punish you from any lack of concentration and the bosses are obnoxious. Obnoxious.

From a design point of view I really enjoyed the animations, UI and soundtrack to the game. The enemy animations are subtle but individual. Retro Dreamer did a fantastic job at animating the different type of ads considering the platform from which they built the game on. Although the game doesn’t have the same aesthetical prowess that a AAA game such as Bloodborne or The Last of Us, it does a fantastic job at convincing players. It certainly convinced me. In the desert level the snakes seem to slither through the sand. If you watch the animation closely this isn’t the case but it does a great job of convincing the player. The scorpions and eyeball monsters also do a convincing job. The sound effects are very impressive and the soundtrack even more so. The “thud thud thud” of the machine gun or “pop pop” (insert Magnitude reference here) of the hand gun chisel the edges from the game to create a smooth polished finish. The colour and art styles are exceptional. I really enjoyed the aesthetics of the game which the artists did a massive job on.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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