CHENNAI: When I think of Monaco, I think of every heist movie I’ve ever watched, condensed down to their purest essentials. I think of how extraordinary it is that a game can be more fun when things are going horribly wrong than when everything’s going swimmingly. I think of a wonderful little game that’s James Bond plus Ocean’s Eleven by way of Pink Panther. With a madman dancing across some piano keys in the background.
You (and whoever you play with) control members of a gang of criminals trying to escape from Monaco, each with their own unique ability. For example, the Mole can burrow through walls, the Cleaner can knock people out, the Locksmith does what it says on the tin, and the Pickpocket has a pet monkey that picks up loot. (Just go with it, yeah?)
You and up to 3 other people will attempt to sneak, scurry and loot your way through the game’s many levels. You’ll have different objectives in each one, and a host of obstacles such as bumbling guards, pesky civilians and lasers to contend with.
It’s initially easy to ghost past security and clean out every level, but things escalate quite rapidly. And one alarm is all it takes to rouse a hornet’s nest of angry gendarmes who would all very much like to introduce their truncheons to your face. But that’s okay, because it’s when the wheels come off your little caper that Monaco goes from being a good game to a great one.
The first indicator that danger’s approaching is usually the soundtrack. Austin Wintory is best known for his work on Assassin’s Creed and Journey, but here he gets a chance to show off his honky-tonk skills. Monaco’s entire soundtrack is played on a piano by Wintory himself and, when you get spotted, he cranks up the beat to a tension-inducing pace that will set your pulse racing. It’s the kind of music that can’t help but put you on edge, and it’s perfect for the list of calamities about to ensue.
That’s the thing about Monaco – it’s at its absolute best when chaos reigns. When you have no time to think, to strategise, to do anything but run, there’s a rush that you get that’s unlike any other stealth game I’ve played. If you’re one of the lucky ones who’ve managed to get into cover, you’ll laugh at the frantic flight of your colleagues; but all the while, you’ll know that it could very easily be you out there. And so your laughter is tinged with uncertainty, much like every step you take in this wonderfully turbulent game.
So go play Monaco. Don’t play it alone. Play it with strangers, play it with friends. Play it well, but don’t forget to play it badly every now and then. For its charm, style and incomparable madness, Monaco is easily worth your time.
If you like the sound of
- Heist movies, with an extra helping of comedy
- Luring your ‘friends’ into traps and leaning back to watch the fun
- Ocean’s Eleven if Mr.Bean was in charge
- A made-up language that never ceases to be funny
- ...Monaco’s the game for you!
(The writer is a gamer, book lover and all-around Renaissance man)