August 16th, 2016
Retro Dreamer, Inc.
Monsters and Monocles is currently available on Steam. It is still in ‘Early Access’, which means that it is not in its final form and not an official release. There will be updates, patches, and features added as soon as you finish reading this article.
Monsters and Monocles is a hyper, top down ‘twin stick’ (meant for a controller or WASD to move with the mouse to aim.) With a beautiful old school pixelated graphics and world tiles that are very reminiscent of the 16-bit glory days. Slather a HyperDuck original soundtrack on top and we’re looking at what could be an amazing end product.
Retro Dreamer is a three man team based in California, that have been working on this game since 2014. Dedicating their time and focusing on a great multiplayer experience. I truly feel they are on the right track.
The game overall is a rogue-like game where levels are procedural generated, including enemies, weapons, power-ups, objectives, and secrets. It’s always a fresh feel each time you play. The direction of the game is simple, a collector unfortunately has just unleashed a evil across the land and you’re there to blast the hell out of it to save the day. The random weapons were fun, especially the stake launcher, and crumpet cannon. They were a joy finding and made you super excited to try them out on the next room of enemies. During co-op it was a blast squealing over a new weapon or item that dropped that we never seen before and either being wowed or meh by it depending on what you currently have in your arsenal. Relics are a fun addition to a game like this. Relics are permanent boosts that you find while blasting through fools in game you set these on the airship lobby. Relics can then be leveled up and become stronger. As with all rogue like, procedural randomized games the weapons, relics, and power-ups may not be an upgrade or work with your play style. The enemies are well designed and fun to look at, and the bosses…challenging and beautiful. Another fun feature was you gain the ability to do more damage if you get on a non-stop kill streak, a little fist with an arrow up with an audio cue lets you know. This can stack which was fun. If you go for a bit without killing anything you will lose this power level by level. I think I got to at least two levels before getting wrecked.
Single player was challenging as everything relied on you. There was no one else to save your ass. Especially not being explained how to handle or do much within the game (unless you read the signs in the main menu). Co-op was the area that shined. Drew and I were able to put a couple of hours into the co-op and enjoyed ourselves. You can have up to 4 person co-op either locally or online. Like I mentioned above we would marvel and laugh at new weapons and proclaimed “Ooooo” when we found an upgraded weapon like an automatic stake launcher or a grenade launcher. It was that freshness that kept us driving. You all share a pool of lives and will have to revive each other by shooting the tombstone that pops up where your teammate died. If you run out of lives it kind of sucks for the person that died, especially in two-player. I was hoping for an item to buy in the mini shop between levels to bring him back if possible. Otherwise it gets really boring, especially when you know the other player is just watching you and there is nothing they can do to help. This may be in the game somewhere on getting an extra life somewhere. I could be wrong and just never came across it.
Overall I wasn’t too sure what to expect with a newly released Early Access game, but I was pleasantly surprised. The gameplay was smooth and graphically looked great. Reading their Early Access page on steam they posted this: “The full version will have a much wider variety of weapons, enemies, upgradable abilities, objectives, unique random events, traps, and unlockable characters. We’re aiming to have 6 distinct zones, each with their own secret areas and bosses. The full version will also have full steam workshop support for player created characters, weapons, enemies, and environments, as well as standard steam features like achievements, trading cards, and cloud saves.” That’s exciting that the game will only get better. Since the initial release just a couple of weeks ago there already has been five updates. So clearly the Dev’s are focusing on this game. For a fun chaotic experience I would definitely grab this game. If you rather wait for the final product I’d understand, but jumping on Early Access is a great way to help the developers get the game out quicker.
Fun randomized chaos
The best is yet to come
Take a little bit to build up relics and level them up
No way to gain more lives