Title: Monsters & Monocles

Platform: Windows, Steam, Mac, Linux, PS4 (TBA)

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Twin Stick Shooter, Roguelite

Players: Single player, Online & Local Co Op (1-4)



Written by Whistler 2nd October 2016


















It’s nice to see that twin stick shooters have seen a bit of a resurgence in recent times, in fact it’s one of the genres that benefits greatly when injected with a dose of Roguelite elements. However twin stick shooter roguelites always seem to be overshadowed by the select few that serve as the benchmarks of quality. Right here is another example of this but does Monsters & Monocles have what it takes to step out of the shadows or will it remain “that game that’s similar to X”?


Monsters & Monocles is a twin stick shooter reminiscent of retro 16-bit shooters. It’s style and gameplay conjure up plenty of similarities with both Nuclear Throne and Enter the Gungeon, of course this in itself is no crime but the problem therein lies with a simple fact. If you’ve played either Enter the Gungeon or Nuclear Throne, not only have you already played this, you’ve played a better version. It’s a harsh truth that will likely impact Monsters & Monocles in its current state; it’s variety weapons is dwarfed by Enter the Gungeon, and characters function identically as opposed to Nuclear Throne’s.

























Operating from your base of operations aboard an airship, you and up to three more chaps are tasked with the eradication of an ancient evil that’s been unleashed upon the world. Gameplay consists of slowly clearing rooms of monsters and well, nothing much else. You’ll need to maintain a relatively slow pace in order to not aggro too many mobs; levels are procedurally generated and there are supposedly different objectives but repetition quickly sets in. While later levels throw some curveballs to change it up, too often can dominate strategy take over while you take potshots from a distance. The selection of weapons currently feel rather limited and while the devs are continuing to make efforts to balance them, there isn’t too much incentive to try different weapons once you stumble upon one that suits you. There is an overheat mechanic that’s meant to introduce depth as you swap out between two weapons but most weapons don’t overheat nearly fast enough and the ones that do, don’t feel worth the risk.


While the British aesthetics are somewhat charming, the pixel art visuals feel rather stark with sharp pixel edges on all sprites and environments. It’s saving grace can be the online capabilities, an aspect that popular twin stick shooters oddly seem to neglect. It’s a tea that feels understandably underdeveloped, at it stands other titles simply do the job better. Monsters & Monocles has a long road ahead of it but where the universe splits into two possibilities: does Retro Dreamer spearhead forward taking early adopter’s feedback and standing above the crowd, or does the game stagnate, failing to innovate or build upon other successful titles and remain in the shadows? Only time will tell.



Pros:

Decent gameplay,

Online multiplayer,

Interesting boss fights.


Cons:

Lacks difficulty,

Doesn’t really stand out,

Repetitious,

Camera tends to struggle to follow the player(s) very well.

 

Written by,

Whistler

 

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