Monsters and Monocles is a rogue-like twin stick shooter that plays from a top-down perspective and has a pixel art style. What makes the game interesting is the randomly generated levels and different styles of stages to blast your way through. The premise is simple, you’re a group of heroes setting out to stop evil from taking over the world. There’s a man, woman, dog-person and a robot to choose from. Your home base is a large airship, where you keep found objects and learn the mechanics of the game. From your ship you can choose which world to jump into and begin your quest. Once you have chosen which world you want to attempt, you are transported into a dangerous battlefield full of monsters and hideous beasts.
You must fight your way through various floors within the world and take out waves of oncoming monsters that possess a wide variety of attacks. The enemies you kill drop all sorts of loot, like gold and weaponry to aid you on your mission. You can also pick up health in the form of refreshing cups of tea. The action takes place from a top-down perspective and you can play either with mouse and keyboard or with a controller. I tried both and felt that a controller worked best for me.
The worlds are varied and look vibrant and colourful with a lot to explore if you get a chance between killing or avoiding the multiple monsters. The 3 initial worlds you can play through is a Gothic city, a haunted mansion and an Egyptian tomb. Each area brings different layouts, styles and types of enemies which will certainly keep you on your toes. The gameplay is frantic and fast paced and you will find that monsters will surround you at all times. This is where your choice of weaponry is hugely important, let alone finding helpful boosts along the way.
The different weapons offer different attacks and ways of keeping enemies at bay, whether it’s a blunderbuss to wipe out crowds of monsters, stake launchers or my favourite, the crumpet launcher. It’s also important to note that more powerful weapons are much likely to overheat. The enemies can come in all different shapes and sizes and have a lot of variety in their attacks, whether its fire, explosions or long ranged attacks. The key to surviving in my opinion is to keep moving and try to avoid as much as possible. You can play with up to four players for even more mayhem in local co-op or online. I played solo and at times the game does get incredibly challenging and tested my patience on a number of occasions. When you die you do restart but the upgradeable relics and 3 lives at your disposal mean that not all progress is lost. Each playable character can hold up to two weapons that can be switched during gameplay.
Stages have various objectives that need to be completed to be able to progress further. After each level you get the chance to buy new items and equipment at a shop, full of weapons, power-ups and health. Like I said, each stage has its own plethora of monsters to contend with and you have to quickly learn different attack patterns and ways to avoid them. You will also come across larger and much more powerful enemies towards the end of stages that can take a lot more hits before dying. I like to think I’m good at games, but I have to say that I found myself dying quite frequently and I really had to improve my skills before making much progress.
The presentation of Monsters and Monocles is great and it has a vibrant pixel art style that kept me interested throughout, with varied stages and awesome monster designs. The characters you play as do feel a little bit bland but overall the design and tone of the game is of a high standard. I especially enjoyed the attention to detail, as pots, crates and walls crumble as you unleash a relentless stream of bullets around you.
Overall, Monsters and Monocles has an awesome art style and the gameplay is challenging but fun. I played solo but you do have the option of local co-op and online play with up to four players. Don’t expect much of a story, as its more about pure gameplay and fast-paced action. The randomly generated levels keep you on your toes and always offer something unexpected, giving the game that replayability factor. The only issue I had with the game were the occasional framerate drops, but it never impacted my overall experience. I would certainly recommend this game if you like fast-paced twin stick shooters or you’re looking for a game that’s great in short bursts.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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