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Review: Monsters & Monocles

by onAugust 24, 2016
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I’m a simple man with simple tastes, and as such I enjoy top-down shooters quite a bit. While the format is pretty basic (you move around and take down waves of enemies before they can get to you), clever game designers manage to ramp up the challenge and mix things up in a way that keeps you on your feet and turns every level into a frantic struggle for survival. As such, I was excited to try out Monsters & Monocles.

Monster-and-Monocles-VGProfessional-Review-(CR)

Now, games where you take on waves of baddies are typically not very serious, and Monsters & Monocles embraces this with its Victorian setting. You play a refined gentleman who must take on various undead creatures in a handful of settings ranging from old manors to the pyramids. In terms of changing things up, Monsters & Monocles does a good job, as there’s a variety of enemy types and a good range of maps. The game really shines, however, with its selection of weapons. While most top-down shooters will feature a standard twin-stick machine-gun configuration and a couple variants, Monsters & Monocles has a veritable arsenal of silly weapons to choose from. You get two at a time, so you can mix and match to get the best results.

In terms of challenge, the game didn’t exactly have my back against the wall initially, but it did ramp things up more in later levels. One area where I felt Monsters & Monocles was lacking was the speed; it doesn’t feel all that fast. Your character’s motion isn’t all that swift, but you do get a nice dash move. In some levels, a lot of the demons actually get pretty manic, so it gets faster, but it doesn’t feel as frantic as titles like Nuclear Throne and Assault Android Cactus.

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I would say that Monsters & Monocles revolves more around playing carefully, as you have a life meter and weapon overheat, so you’ll need to manage your fire and stay out of the bullet flurries. One really cool thing is that they’ve included co-op play, so you can invite three buddies to play online or via splitscreen (I heavily recommend the latter) so you can tackle various monstrosities looking like refined English gentlemen.

Monsters & Monocles never really finds its edge in the top-down shooter market. It works well enough, but it doesn’t have unique mechanics that set it that far apart. Its weapon selection is definitely a perk, and its idiosyncratic mix of demons and men in top hats is sure to entertain, but it feels like it’s missing something. Still, if you’re a fan of top-down shooters, it’s a jolly good time, especially in co-op.

Monsters & Monocles was reviewed using a PC early access code of the game provided by Retro Dreamer. The PC version was tested on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM. A PlayStation 4 version has been announced as well, but no definite release date. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.

What we liked

• Great variety of weapons
• Lots of enemy types
• Amusing setting and clever maps

What is not fun

• Movement feels somewhat sluggish
• Soundtrack is not that entertaining
• Some levels feel repetitive

Editor Rating
 
Concept
7.5

 
Graphics
7.8

 
Sound
7.5

 
Playability
8.5

 
Entertainment
8.2

 
Replay Value
7.5

Final Score
7.8


Our final verdict
 

Monsters & Monocles is a fun top-down shooter with a lot of variety. It doesn’t quite manage to stand out in the market, but it does offer some frantic gentlemanly monster slaying.

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