Monsters and Monocles – Quick Game Preview (Early Access)

Monsters and Monocles – Quick Game Preview (Early Access)
Monsters and Monocles (PC [Reviewed])
Developer: Retro Dreamer
Publisher: Retro Dreamer

Monsters and Monocles is a roguelite twin-stick shooter that can be played either solo or with up to four players in local or online co-op. The game is currently in early access on Steam.

Your goal is to shoot and kill hordes of monsters, to make your way through the levels, and then kill the end boss in each zone. You’ll have to do this while dodging projectiles and kiting enemies to avoid dying. You have limited lives, and once you lose them, it’s game over and you have to restart.

Pros:
  • play solo or with up to four players either online or locally
  • you can complete the zones in any order you’d like, which is a nice since it let’s you experience all parts of the game even if you’re struggling with a zone (only 3 out of the 6 zones are currently available)
  • each of the zones has a unique design, and most of the enemies types differ from one zone to another (with the exception of a few that seem to be recolours)
  • plentiful weapon and item drops
  • no doors closing behind you, and you can tackle each area from range if you want (this does make the game easier though)
  • pixel style graphics look good, and the bright colours make it very easy to see incoming enemies and projectiles (the style made me think of Enter the Gungeon)
  • sound effects are decent, and the music is very good
  • to get to the next level in each zone, you have to complete a quest to unlock it – it’s nice to have an objective other than just “find the door”
  • can backtrack to the previous levels, and it can be advantageous to go back to the store top up before the boss (you can accidentally go though while fighting though, and you shouldn’t be able to while in combat)
  • boss encounters are enjoyable, and are challenging at times
Cons:
  • not much of a story right now, which is fine for this genre of games
  • so far all the zones have essentially the level structure: level 1 & 3 with monsters, level 2 with a store, and then the final boss level 4 (some variance would be good)
  • sometimes enemies twitch out, or get stuck on the terrain when they try to get to you (some issues are expected in early access, and I’m sure they’ll iron out the kinks with the AI pathing before release)
  • even though it’s procedurally generated, the levels within the different zones feel pretty much the same after a few clears, and there weren’t any areas that stood out as new or unique; there’s a boss for each zone, and it’s always the same – random boss spawns would help to keep replaying zones more exciting
  • as stated in the store page description: there isn’t much weapon variety in early access right now, and with there being no ammo, once you find the weapons you prefer, there’s no need or desire to change items since ou never run out of ammo
  • no minimap – the addition of a minimap showing the areas you’ve already cleared would be helpful
  • keyboard and mouse works well, but lacks customization (using a controller would have been more effective though)

It took me about 3.5 hours to successfully complete all 3 zones while solo without running out of lives. Once you finish all the levels, the enemies gain additional health and damage, and you can continue with your lives and items and play the levels again. I tried playing online co-op, but I had some issues connecting to a few lobbies, and didn’t bother to continue trying. I expect it would be even more enjoyable while playing as co-op, where you can revive your allies.

Conclusion:

I’m looking forward to playing Monsters and Monocles again once all of the content is released. Even though the game is currently lacking on content, it’s still fun, and it’s not too difficult either. There are some pathing and balance issues that need to be addressed, but other that, I didn’t experience any bugs. Overall, I still prefer Enter the Gungeon, but I think Monsters and Monocles is off to a good start, and it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Review copy was provided by the developer.