Monsters and Monocles

Game review by
Marcia Morgan, Common Sense Media
Monsters and Monocles Game Poster Image
Victorian-themed twin-stick shooter feels way too difficult.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Usual good guys versus evil monsters, but also messages of friendship, teamwork between different heroes, players controlling them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main characters are unique, have different backgrounds, but still come together for a greater good, teaming up in a cheery way to save world from the supernatural.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn; but levels are incredibly difficult.

Violence

Steady stream of violence, with nonstop bullets, explosions, but game’s art style means there’s very little graphic violence. Characters all pixelated; defeated enemies explode in colorful bursts of light before disappearing.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Monsters and Monocles is a downloadable arcade-style action game. Controls are typical of the "twin stick" shooter genre, with one joystick to aim and one to move, making the game simple to pick up and play. While the controls are simple, getting through levels feels overly difficult. The game is filled with nonstop action and violence as characters use all sorts of guns, bombs, and other weapons to defeat a variety of supernatural enemies, although it's not overly graphic and there's no blood thanks to the art style. Players can go solo or join with up to three friends in local or online monster fighting teams. Teamwork is important with players sharing a single pool of lives and only getting revived with the help of their friends. There's no objectionable content.

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What's it about?

MONSTERS AND MONOCLES is a fast-paced, nonstop, twin-stick shooter set against a Victorian steampunk backdrop. When a clueless collector of occult items gets his hands on his latest find, he unknowingly unleashes a great evil that's spreading across the globe. Standing between this evil and the end of the world is a team of quirky paranormal investigators. Using all kinds of heavy weapons, special abilities, and, most importantly, teamwork, it’s up to you to find the source of this dark energy and blast it back to where it came from.

Is it any good?

This adventure game is packed with arcade-like play, but the challenge included is so extreme that it really limits the overall fun. If there's anything to be learned from video games, it's that the only way to get rid of pesky paranormal problems is with an overabundance of occult ordinance. There's no shortage of either in Monsters and Monocles. Thanks to its procedurally generated levels, you never quite know what you're going to be dealing with on any given stage. Maps, goals, power-ups, and enemies are randomly shuffled together and you're left to deal with the consequences. Sometimes you might only need to track down a few select monsters, while other times you might need to wade through the monstrous minions to track down a specific item. Either way, you still have to face off overwhelming waves of baddies and cross your fingers hoping to stumble across the right weapons or power-ups to survive the encounter.

You might think this would be easier with friends, but that's not necessarily the case. For starters, all players share a single (and very chintzy) pool of lives. Not only that, but to revive a teammate, you have to fight your way to where they died and shoot the tombstone marking their death. Depending on where or how they died, it's more tempting to sometimes leave a teammate six feet under and just revive him or her on the next stage. That's assuming you make it to the next stage. One of the most frustrating things about the game is that there's no "Continue" feature, meaning that when everyone dies, you have to start the whole thing over. That might have been meant to add to the game's overall retro arcade appeal, but since this isn’t an arcade and you're not spending quarters, it ends up being more of an aggravation than a challenge.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games such as Monsters and Monocles. There’s a lot of shooting in the game, but does its retro, pixelated style lessen the impact of the violence?

  • Talk about teamwork in games. What are some good ways to work together as a team in video games? What’s more important: individual performance or working together as a unit?

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