Brett reviews the cinematic puzzle platformer by Nowhere Studios, Monochroma. Available now on PC, OSX and Linux/Ubuntu.
Every now and then a game comes along that is short, sweet and makes a profound statement and Nowhere Studios' Monochroma is a game that comes close to accomplishing that goal.
I will admit that at first i noticed the similarities between Monochroma and 2010’s Limbo, yet while Limbo focused more on the puzzles, Monochroma places its emphasis more on the narrative.
Monochroma is a story about an older brother taking care of his younger brother who is afraid of the dark, as you make your way through a 1950’s dystopia controlled by a large corporation.
As you make your way through the levels, the story reveals a much darker side, touching on certain aspects of society including: oppression, corporate greed, technology, propaganda and even monitorization.
It doesn’t tell its story using words or written narrative, but through its visual art style, sound design and soundtrack. For the most part, it gets those last three things right. Everything is well animated with artistically done backdrops, which really help set the tone for the game.
Its grey tones with splashes of red really help with the setting, yet also work against it as it is the colour of Monochroma that draws the biggest comparison to Limbo.
The soundtrack (when it is used) is amazing and helps convey on many occasions, the emotions the developers are wanting you to feel. If they were to release the soundtrack i would no doubt buy it. Its catchy tunes and haunting melodies were a high point for me as i made my through this morbid world.
One thing there is no doubt about in Monochroma, is that you will die - a lot. Yet it loses its shock value all too quickly and for me, never felt like a deterrent from letting happen. Not to mention it might not always be your fault. There were a few times where i had unresponsive controls, causing me to fall to my death.
The puzzles in Monochroma would have to be one of the aspects where this game really fails to deliver. The puzzles are pretty basic and never really posed too much of a challenge - even in the later levels.
They were mostly fun to do, yet never gave much of a sense of achievement, even with certain ones that i found myself dying at quite often. That lack of achievement was magnified by the very forgiving checkpoint system.
The checkpoint system was so forgiving that i found myself using a trial-and-error form of gameplay to navigate through Monochroma’s beautifully crafted world.
More often than not, after dying you would find yourself not too far from the point of your demise making catching up pretty much a non-issue. At times it may have taken you back a little further than you would have liked - but that really didn't matter much with the lack of difficulty with the puzzles.
With Monochroma, we have a game that at times successfully shows how artistic and thought-provoking games can be. I did however enjoy my play through of Monochroma yet see no real reason to play through it again -even with its short game length.
The impact that Monochroma has on the player, as far as mustering up emotion, if any, is like a one time deal and to play through it again would really make its flaws stand out.
It does convey a great sense of emotion and willingness to protect your younger brother right up to the final moments. As far as the other statements Monochroma tries to make, well they can be a little bit lost unless you take the time to take in the world around you and consider the meaning behind every aspect of the world of Monochroma.
I'm giving Monochroma a 7 out of 10.