A slew of criminals join forces to bust out of jail. There are no innocents among them; they know what they are and what they do. Each of them resides in jail for a different crime. The Lockpick is good at cracking locks; The Cleaner has a knack for sneaking up on people and knocking them out, and The Pickpocket trained his pet monkey to steal treasure. They do not wish to turn over a new leaf, they want to get rich and pull off the ultimate heist.
These “specialists” want to expand their criminal empire. They seek to accomplish this by searching for like-minded hooligans. Each character has their own section explaining the various heists. New characters appear during special quests that require you to save them from capture. These rescued characters will become integral pieces of the narrative. For example, The Gentleman has a yacht that the crooks can use to escape to a safer location of Monaco. It all ties together well into quirky Ocean’s Eleven style dialogue, with the gang of thieves getting a lot more than what they asked for.
Taking on a heist is both simple and daunting at the same time. Your approach will vary depending on which character is currently on the field. Before the player is a large blueprint, but as the crook moves along the area, a greater scope of the room reveals itself as long as the character can see it. Depending on where the thief is standing at the time, the stage highlights more of the available zone. The more open the area the higher the chance of discovery by wandering guards or security cameras. Hide in bushes, slink behind pillars, or slip through doors to avoid watchful eyes.
The various skills of the burglars change the very dynamic of each map. The lookout can see guards through walls, The Mole can dig dug his way through levels, and the redhead can seduce anyone into doing her bidding. The main goal in each stage is to complete the heist and escape, but there are coins the thieves can steal on the way to the goal. It is possible to grab most of the coins in early levels with all character types, but later on, it can be near impossible without the right skill set and a ton of patience. The same goes for completing levels that embed focused A.I. types like police officers with guns, or attack dogs that can track the scent of a discovered robber.
Monaco can become increasingly difficult during the later levels, but that is what makes it so damn compelling. Restarting a run because of one mishap is a frustratingly amusing part of the game. You get a feeling of accomplishment from conjuring a pattern that allows your thief to slink around trip-wires, dogs, and rotating surveillance cameras that conveniently restrict your path. There isn’t a sting of defeat to be found, you’ll want to restart and pick a different class and try various paths to success.
If running around solo is a little too difficult, the option to bring along four other roguish types is there. The optimal reasoning behind playing Multiplayer is to plan the perfect heist. I assume that is something that could work with a well-oiled team, but I was met with frenetic groups without a hint of organization to them. Usually this would leave me with the shivers and a disgusting feeling in the pit of my stomach, but somehow the on the fly shifting of strategy and chaotic cooperation random people proved to be nothing but pure amusement. Single-player may be fun, but cooperative play is how Monaco shows off its true sites.
The true spirit of each character skill rears both strength and weaknesses. The Lookout illuminates the wealth of traps and guards for other players, so that The Cleaner can knock them out, while The Hacker blacks out security to create a distraction for The Gentleman to snatch the loot. Unlike Single-Player, the game doesn’t end just because a crook meets his end. The other players can resuscitate their deceased buddy and get him back to his thieving ways.
It’s a blast but some of the characters prove to be less useful in these situations than others. The Redhead can charm anyone, but the player doesn’t have control of who. Even if you do charm someone, that person can only open doors for her and will stand idly by while bullets penetrate her face. The Mole only has his uses in heavily walled areas; and The Gentleman is most useful for using his disguise to save a wounded friend.
Monaco features vivid sprites that move across the map from a top-down view. Lively colors burst into the slate gray blueprint of the zone like a vibrant flashlight. Everything can quickly become an abstract painting filled with detailed pixelated objects intensified by brilliant illumination. The jazzy compositions can shift intensity into a high-tension drilling of piano keys that fortifies the chaos on-screen. Sound design plays a big part of the game play, with the crackling of footsteps of nearby guards, or the muttering of French when they’ve discovered a burglar. It’s definitely impressive and something that you won’t ignore during the experience.
This tense and pleasing puzzler adds a different twist on the stealth genre. It’s difficult alone but offers players the opportunity split the take four ways in cooperative play. Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine receives an B+ from Geek Citadel. A vast title of immense wealth and depth waits for you, and for $15… that’s practically a steal.