Published on April 29th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine
It’s not often I’ll purchase a new and recently released game on the fly, but that’s exactly what I did when I heard about Monaco.
Having been in development for over 3 years, it was demo-ed at Penny Arcade in 2010, but it had already run the risk of losing the initial hype and the residual hope of a good game after vastly exceeding the usual development cycle for this kind of title. During this time I somehow managed to live in a Monaco sized box, because this was all news to me and it seemed to pop out of nowhere.
Monaco is an indie stealth game released on the XBLA and Steam and is a top down GTA style run around with prominent online co-op.
Not exactly my kind of game and the emphasis on “co-op” leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But after the strangely high review scores and a decent looking ad, my interest was piqued.
At the start of the game there are four players that wish to break out of prison. After the first mission of choosing a player and doing that, the rest of the game is fulfilling other missions based on various heists. There are more characters to unlock and each have their own unique skills.
The Locksmith – Opens locked objects faster
The Cleaner – Knocks out unsuspecting enemies
The Pickpocket – Has a pet monkey which can pick up loot
The Lookout – Shows position of enemies while sneaking
The Mole – Can knock through walls
The Hacker – Injects viruses into systems
The Gentleman – Can change his identity when hidden
The Redhead – Attracts a single NPC
Each mission has an objective, usually to grab a certain object or when unlocking characters, to rescue someone. You must reach the target and return or escape. Secondary objectives are collecting all the loot in an area and doing the level as fast as you can.
It looks a lot like Hotline Miami, which was released earlier this year, in that it’s 8 bit inspired and has top down view the whole time. However, how much of the level can be seen depends on the character’s perspective.
There are enemy patrols, which alert each other when you are spotted and they have limited vision, like in most stealth games and the “innocent” NPCs roam about the levels, generally getting in the way and some even dob on you when you are found by them. They may be innocent, but apparently they’re still aligned.
Some of the features in levels include, trigger alarms, locked doors, cameras and lasers, all of which can be hacked and guard dogs which have increased sensitivity to noise and are able to follow your scent.
Level design is fairly open so there are many paths to achieving your goal and with the character’s ability sets, there are a lot of ways of going about progression too. There are lots of places to hide, like in bushes or cupboards but you can also find new paths by climbing vents.
There are items that you can use, mostly weaponry with extremely limited ammo and use, like the shotgun and the wrench or there are bandages which can heal you. Your health is a round life bar that can appear in the menu which when you bring up overlays the game without pausing. Once a character in single player mode dies, the level restarts and you choose another character to play. This can happen three times before you presumably must reload. Once you finish the level, that character can be used again.
When playing online, you and your buddy can progress the level together, making the process much smoother or conversely, screwing everything up.
Playing online requires a lot of co-operation and relying on one another’s abilities, whole party must go through the doors to other levels together or they can’t progress and when characters die they must be revived by another member or once again nobody can progress. You have to look after one another.
The game is very dynamic meaning that the wild card element of adding more players makes things a little manic at times, making moments of teamwork rather poignant and giving an immense feeling of satisfaction on a mission well done.
The community at first seemed a little hostile, but this might have been because initially I died quite a lot (in some rather ill-placed locations) making me a drag on the team, but after a few games I was able to find some really great people I could work well with, which is really rare for me.
Obviously, being that the game is set in Monaco, although you wouldn’t know by the dark interiors you mostly see, there are a lot of French speaking characters and the music reflects the bourgeois style. Austin Wintory did the soundtrack, his previous game music being Journey, which is one of my favourite games this generation. I don’t prefer Monaco’s music, but being a more moody and piano based set, this is completely fine. That and topping Journey really would be a miracle.
Overall, I loved this game, it was fluid, fast and frantic and I enjoyed and will enjoy every minute I play. It’s rare for me to enjoy a game which has a strong multiplayer focus, like it is equally uncommon for me to enjoy slow moments in stealth games where I have to do something the hard way because of a screw-up, but I was still having fun and so were my peers.
Even though I need constant death supervision.