Wednesday, November 2, 2016

First Impressions: Monsters and Monocles

Monsters and Monocles
Developer/Publisher: Retro Dreamer

DISCLAIMER: This game is still in Early Access. All thoughts and opinions therein are related to the game during its development state. Features/content are subject to change and not a final representation of the game.

Monster and Monocles(hence forth M&M) is a very ambitious game. Look at the laundry list of features; we have procedurally generated environments, a variety of weapons, enemies, abilities, unique random events, traps, and unlockable characters. Also included is something I personally haven't seen in this genre, full Steam workshop support. Allowing you to create unique assets for the game itself.

When you look at the genre of this type of game, its going up against giants such as Binding of Isaac, Nuclear Throne, and Enter the Gungeon. No small feat to be sure. If we were solely looking at this game right now from an art standpoint, M&M is on par with its brethren and surpasses them. The sprite design is extremely eye catching and the overall design is unique. The animations, explosions, and level designs are all well done. In this case it blends cheeky steampunk Victorian style with almost a Halloween aesthetic. It's weird, but I dig it. Now in other aspects, there is still some catching up to do.

From a gameplay standpoint, it leans more towards that arcade style of a thumbstick shooter. Especially when you start adding people into the mix, up to four players can play locally and online. The game worked better in my opinion with a controller but it doesn't have too many buttons, you can dash, shoot and switch weapons.(I am sure it works fine with a key/mouse) It definitely feels geared to a fast paced chaotic type of game. You can certainly take your sweet time with it and if you are playing alone, you are more then likely going to have to.

The starting gun for characters is the revolver and it kinda blows. Enemies attack in very large groups with all sorts of different attack methods, exploding, dashing, splitting into tiny enemies. Combat can become very hectic, especially if you don't know what you are expecting, leading to a quick death.

There are shops, secrets, and there are currently three areas/bosses in the game. The flow as of right now, is you progress through two levels with random objectives, collecting guns, power ups along the way and then fight the boss. Rinse and repeat.

One gripe I did have is that because the levels are procedural, that sometimes their design can be rather silly. Sometimes it is littered with junk everywhere and has confusing pathing. It's a minor gripe and something I imagine that can be fine tuned as development continues.

The level of work that has been put into the game is very promising and well done. A good example of this, is the weapons, where you might find the crumpet launcher and teapot machine gun. There are buffs that you can find and bring back to your base to upgrade and use in future playthroughs for your guns and other passive abilities. This gives the game somewhat of a progression, and I would like to see the same idea that maybe allows for some weapon modifications. You have a huge base area that could be used for all sorts of stuff.

Speaking from a personal perspective, I have been keeping my eyes on M&M for quite a while. For the aforementioned reasons, I am excited to see what the game has to offer once it is done. One thing to keep in mind about this title though is that it is far from finished.

If you buy into the Early Access of the game, it is currently to support the developer and give feedback. Some of the features are in the game but need polish, with more features to come. The game itself is rather short on replay and variety, and just replaying combat can become repetitive.

Keep in mind this is in no way derisive, comparing a game in Early Access to completed titles is silly. The only reason I mention it is to keep you aware of what is currently in the game. Once this bun is done in the oven, I am sure it will be a classic game and people will be loving this title.

Keep Monster and Monocles on your radar. The game looks spectacular and the developer seems to be consistent with the updates. Let those developers do their amazing work and in the mean time you go prep the table for tea and crumpets.

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