‘Monsters & Monocles’ Early Access Impressions: A Cute Co-op For the Whole Family

You ever find yourself thinking, “I don’t play enough video games with my kids”? Well, you’re in luck because indie developers seem to be the only ones these days who want you and your family to have a wholesome co-op experience where you can just shoot monsters to your heart’s content.
monsters & monocles

Monsters & Monocles, from developers Retro Dreamer, is an early access twin-stick shooter similar to Hammerwatch and Helldivers, set in a steampunk fantasy setting that allows you to play with up to four players co-op (local or internet). It’s a simple premise: pick a character, pick a level, shoot monsters, don’t die. It’s roguelike, meaning when you die, you lose most of your stuff like that really awesome heavy machine gun you spent almost two grand on, but whatever.

Luckily for me, my kid loves video games, so we played Monsters & Monocles together and filmed it into a quick Let’s Play video. Give it a watch:

My first impressions of the game were good, even though it’s still in the early access stages. Things like a proper tutorial are missing (though I actually preferred just reading signs for controls instead of sitting through a lesson). Some of the handling felt off and I couldn’t quite get precise aiming but let’s be honest: I’m awful at video games so it’s more likely I’m at fault than the game. There’s also a dodge mechanic that I ALWAYS forgot was available.

While each environment offers different variations on enemy types, most of the levels felt similar. The premise was simply to pick a level, complete two randomly generated quests in the stages, and then beat that world’s boss. If you die, you do manage to keep the relics you acquired in the world, so you don’t have to completely start over. And hey, that music and pixelated art is adorable so you won’t feel angry for too long.

While I think the game has a lot going for it already in early access, here’s what I’d like to see implemented in the future for Monsters & Monocles:

  • Level variety. The levels aren’t bad as they are now, but I’d like to see a little bit more in terms of design. More ways to stupidly hurt myself, more creative ways to kill enemies.
  • More guns. I like a lot of the guns already but there are definitely good and bad options. The blunderbuss is the best early game weapon and the crumpet shooter is just plain fun. I’d love more silly guns that are relevant to each stage.
  • Relics. The relics are kind of a staple of roguelike games, giving you a reason to keep playing even when you’ve just died and lost all your gear. However, I’d like more to them. For instance: a relic that allows you to start a stage with a weapon better than the revolver or a relic that allows a faster recharge on your dodge.

Ultimately, what I’m getting at here is that I want less repetition with the gameplay to add to the replayable nature. More characters, more things to destroy, and so on.

The thing I enjoy most about Monsters & Monocles is the fact that I can play co-op either locally or online. In an ever-changing game environment where I can’t play many games co-op with my family, that’s a huge selling feature for me.

If you’re a fan of twin-stick shooters and want a fun game to sit down with for quick gaming sessions, give Monsters & Monocles a shot. It has a dog in a smoking jacket for cryin’ out loud.

Monsters & Monocles was reviewed on Steam with a code supplied by the developer. 

Jen Stayrook
Jen Stayrook
Don't let the fancy nerd duds deceive you; Jen’s never been described as “classy.” You can find her on Twitter where she stalks all of her favorite celebrities: @jenstayrook. Or you can find her on Steam or Xbox dying in every game she plays as "Rilna." Email: jen.stayrook@theworkprint.com

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