Monaco, also known as Monaco: What's yours is Mine is PocketWatch's latest creation. Monaco has an 8-bit retro feel, and yet manages to bring together sharp graphic effects and a stealthy visual style worthy of today's gaming era. Played from a top-down viewpoint and reminiscent of games like Dollar Dash or Hotline Miami, Monaco is a heist themed game that has you rob banks and casinos, with the only intention of getting rich. Collaborate with other felons and get ready to pull off large heists.
At first glance you wouldn't expect an inviting story from a game that relies on multiplayer as much as Monaco does. After a few levels in, however, the game has you intrigued to know more about the plot. It all starts when a group of small-time thieves attempt a prison break. From then, they find themselves pulling heists at notable Monaco locations, to name a few, the Monte Carlo casino and La Condamine. You'll find fellow burglars along the way, befriend them and benefit from them.
There are two campaigns, but levels are usually the same stage played from a different spawn point and storytelling. The campaign levels have two or three floors, each with a certain Coin count. You can either rush through the stages, or clear up all the coins. Needless to say, the latter is quite more fun, and challenging. Floors have scattered weapons, and collecting 10 coins give you more ammo. Coins can also be obtained from Safes and Cashiers, although those are harder to crank. Security doors and Lasers keeps thieves at bay from opening strongboxes, but hacking a security computer will do the trick to disable the automated threats. The goal is simple: steal as much as you can and get to the getaway car.
There are eight unique playable thieves, and each have their own set of skills and advantages. Pick the Locksmith, and you'll be able to crack Safes and locked doors faster than any other usable character. The Cleaner can temporarily knock out distracted hostile guards or agents, and even civilians. Both you and the enemies have a visibility field, if you cross theirs, they'll start to investigate and walk to you. Once you've been exposed, they'll enter an alerted state and chase you down. If you get away from their sight, an Exclamation icon will indicate your last-seen location, and that's as far as the cops will walk to look for you. You can hide in Bushes or vents, and then move on once your persecutors just carry on with their patrol. Early levels, not surprisingly, can be referred to as tutorials. Monaco has a rather difficult learning curve, and you'll find yourself retrying missions often.
Controls are fairly responsive and ready to handle. Gaming with other players crank the fun a notch up, but it's more chaotic. Singleplayer gives you three lifes, once you die, you just pick another character and continue. Enemies also revive each other, putting both crews in even circumstances. Once you've used up all your chances, it's game over. Multiplayer is more interesting, as once a player dies, the team can't move forward until they revive the downed comrade. Stealth helps avoiding confrontation, as there's little a puny hacker thief can do against an armed security guard.
Online matches are the best ingredient of Monaco. I've put nearly 50 hours into Monaco so far, and despite the short count of campaign levels, the class selection and multiplayer just keep drawing me in. Cops are always anxious to put me in handcuffs, but it's not always a battle against the law. There is a Player versus Player map, for players looking to oppose each other and test their skills. Any and all advantages are gone, it's just you and your shotgun against other thieves; converse to the enjoyable co-operative action.
The graphics of the game are a modern take on the 8-bit look of old classic titles. Detailed, 2D tiles and squares form up the visuals of Monaco, along with a shadowy graphic style that fits perfectly the stealth atmosphere. Grey schemes illustrates the limit of your field of view, and color up once you approach that area, revealing the enemies and obstacles within the perimeter.
The music and sound effects are splendid. You'll hear tense piano soundtracks when detected and chased, and a relaxed tone when walking along the hallways. There is no voice acting, other than the Guards' occasional French phrasings and their surprise expressions when they spot you. Even the slightest sounds are audible when in stealth, coming in handy when trying to get around the security guards sight.
Monaco really shines as a casual multiplayer game and still provides challenging fun for singleplayer too. Be it co-op Player versus Player, Monaco is a game meant to be played online. A map editor/creator is already on its way and should make up for the fairly limited level diversity. For fifteen bucks, Monaco is an attractive offer for gamers who enjoy a fun multiplayer experience filled with robbery and challenges.