Monaco, the tale of talented fugitives presented by Pocket Watch Games delivers a potation of originality. An original recipe of stealth and style. The intricacy is found not only by the distinct shadow effects, but the immense amount of symbols and cues that will touch a player’s senses quickly. To anyone who finds stealth action a fair challenge, this game also has solid cooperative gameplay that can support four players on a single screen. Take it the next step further with an appealing cast of characters tied together in a well woven narrative becoming of the effort and execution of this indie title.
The controls of Monaco are easy to learn but the unique use of shadows can be a notable hurdle. The allowed amount of vision, and in contrast-the allowed amount of shadow moves constantly as the player explores the rooms and offices. Much like kaleidoscope distorts slowly and consistently as one would look around with it. The lobby and character select screens are presented with menus of black contrasted by a bright color depending on who is talking. The characters are depicted with pixellated portraits and a unique side animations. In-game visuals are of higher resolution, and make use of smooth and well detailed textures and colors. If a room is well-lit it’s pleasing to look at, and in the dark one can see all the detailed symbols that communicate scope of the level.
Audio cues play an important role as phones will ring, and cats will whine when approached even cautiously. If a guard is patrolling, when hiding in cover close by, the silhouetted footsteps appear accompanied by the sound of their wandering. It’s an impressive implementation for the top-down stealth experience, and a good example of how Monaco can hit the senses quickly.
The music is a noticeably upbeat and playful piano that has an, ”old timely” feel to it. The intensity of the track is dependent on how well players can remain hidden. When the guards are alerted, the music picks up dramatically and helps make light of the scurrying thieves running across a large map like mice caught in a maze.
A beginning player will notice that one can approach a very close distance to the enemy before he or she is recognized by the guards or employees. This may initially come off as lite stealth, or too easy. But as the laser traps begin to gleam their ugly faces through the infested hallways, computers will be more effective to halt trip wires and to turn off nearby lights. Searching for alternate routes will be necessary depending on the chosen character(s).
Monaco’s playable characters are all represented by classes one would expect necessary in an Ocean’s-Eleven style multi-man heist: The Hacker, that quick crack any computer with ease, and can create viruses through outlets as well; the Lookout has the ability to see enemies at from a great range and their equipped weapons; And the Gentleman, who already comes with a disguise that will replenish automatically when he remains hidden.
Engaging the enemy is never to wise idea, unless you’re the Cleaner character. While most of the guards do not start with firearms, the mêlée beatings will be enough to thwart any gun-ho players. The maps by default have enough health packs that, if you’re playing by yourself you may need not worry about dying lest you make too many mistakes. Players can expect being caught by guards and still fashion a decent heist without many setbacks.
Keep in mind, each map has enough health packs scattered around to keep four players comfortably progressing. In multiplayer games, teammates can be revived by the same way as any other action. All teammates are needed to advance to other areas of the same level, so more serious attempts will need tighter formations, and overall more collaboration between participants. Players who play solo will enjoy a slower, more precise experience that helps learn the flow of the game. In multiplayer games it is often that players will fend for themselves and soon enough cross paths in the madness and alarm.
Upon completion of each level a ten-second penalty will be taxed for each coin that is not collected on the stage. This encourages the multiplayer dynamic to have the fastest times possible. For those playing solo, considering each class member helps give a unique life to every mission, and their specialties come in handy at different times. In a single player game If one character should fall during the job, they cannot be used again and one of their four starting lives is deducted. As mentioned before, in multiplayer games, players can revive each other and if everyone is killed, it is Game Over.
Awards are also received for not dying once, and/or for finding all the level’s coins before completing the mission. Cleaning out stages by collecting coins is vital for seeing the second campaign that must be unlocked this way piece by piece.
The mission structure is very consistent: break into the facility, disguise yourself and sneak around while working through the many floors, and grab the trophies. Hiding in closets and avoiding employee’s and guards will still be necessary at this point too for the escape is part of the mission. Most of the time this causes players to backtrack several screens to where they started. The traps and level structure gain sophistication as one progresses through the game. But the same get-in-get-out formula applies to nearly all levels of the game. Save the PvP round unlocked for completing the first campaign.
Monaco is a game frankly a tad short, but has a co-op that cannot be denied original and fun. Anyone looking for a new indie title should look no further for this game was acclaimed winner of the 2010 Independent Game’s Festival’s, “Excellence ind Design ” award and received the, “Seams McNally Grand Prize” that same year. The game is available on Steam for $15. And believe it or not is a solo project, Andy Schatz latest claim to fame will earn him many a bread roll for this one.