Get in, get out, get rich.
Monaco is a special game. Walking into this review, hearing the hype spreading out across the interwebz, be it through Penny Arcade’s experiences and comics or simply from the over-whelming critical and commercial acclaim, it would seemingly create high expectations. However, Monaco isn’t amazing for just what it does – which it does excellently, mind you – but how it takes the gameplay elements we’ve seen for years and creates a completely new and enjoyable experience.
The premise is simple: You play as a thief, of which eight different types exist in the game, and execute heists. These heists are throwbacks to old-school movies, and feature their own homages to the same (ably aided by the high rolling 50’s style soundtrack).
You’ll be working through 30 different missions in single-player and committing acts like robbing banks, busting out accomplices and much more. The storyline is deftly handled, relying on a neo-noir presentation and smooth characterizations for each of the thieves.
On its own, the gameplay allows you to sneak around and utilize different abilities to complete your objectives. Four thieves are playable from the outset, including the Locksmith, Pickpocket, Cleaner and Lookout. Each character’s ability is obvious from the outset, as the Locksmith can pick different locks and the Cleaner is skilled at knocking out enemies.
It’s the unlockable characters which provide some interesting alternatives with the Gentleman being an expert in camouflage and the Redhead can charm different enemies into unlocking doors and providing meaningful distractions (besides reviving other team members). It all makes for an awesome single-player experience when you’re just romping through a level and using these different abilities to complete missions in previously undiscovered ways.
The ingenuity extends to the game’s line of sight. Unlike most other top down games, your line of sight mirrors the characters. Your character won’t be able to see what’s beyond a locked door. It creates an awesome sense of suspense, and while hard to adjust to, it also applies to enemies. Duck out of their line of sight, and you’ll never have to worry about them seeing you. The Lookout helps add an extra dimension to this in that she’s the only character type that can see NPCs in a level.
So as a single-player game, Monaco is tons of fun. It’s when you go online and compete alongside three different players (or just cooperate locally on your TV screen) that things get crazier, for the better.
The different character types must all somehow work together to execute plans, coordinating their various abilities to succeed. However, plans can go awry, which results in every one just winging it and doing their thing to quickly succeed.
There’s a measure of competitiveness as well in trying to beat your friends out and attain a higher score, even though missions are one based on cooperative play. This is especially so when going up against tougher enemies armed with weapons like shotguns that can kill you in an instant.
Nonetheless, it’s a blast to play. The game’s minimalist art style and shadowy environments contrast excellently with neon lights and the colour coded characters. The animations of each thief are unique and helps imbue tons more personality than entire scripts can do for some characters in most AAA titles. But it helps that they have great dialogue in the single-player as well.
As an indie title that encompasses the essentials of classic arcade titles in a new wave co-operative approach that also redefines how top-down games are played, Monaco is an excellent title. It comes highly recommended, and its small niggles do nothing to detract from the amazing aura that pulling off a master heist – chaotically or coherently – provide.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Flat-out fun and varied gameplay. Interesting twists on the top-down perspective. Excellent art direction and soundtrack.
Some difficult opponents. Lack of details can be a problem at times.
Monaco: What's Your is Mine is an excellent stealth adventure and a rip-roaring time with friends.