Thursday, 22 September 2016

Monochroma (Xbox One) - Review

Monochroma is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £7.99.

It was pretty difficult to type up this review in all honesty. I mean I've had the game for ages and then family life just went crazy and I never had the chance to sit down and play it to review it. I have now, but this tab has been open on my Mac all week, waiting for me to type up my thoughts on the game. And I just couldn't do it.

I think the main reason for this is glaringly obvious. Monochroma looks very much like a Limbo clone. Unfortunately though Monochrome lives very much in Limbo's shadow and I've spent this week trying to work out how I can review this game without comparing it to Playhead's 2010 hit.

The answer is I can't. To do that would be to do both games a disservice. There aren't many games out there today that could claim to have not taken inspiration from a game or two. And that's fine. It's nice to spot those similarities, discuss the differences and the merits they bring to the game. Not all games can reach that balance though, and end up feeling like a cheap cash in on someone else's brilliant idea. Monochroma is the latter.

The game is good but if you have ever played Limbo (and with it being given away for free on Xbox One awhile back and it being available on a multitude of different platforms how could you not!?) you will not be able to stop yourself comparing the two games and Monochroma will consistently fall short.

The art style is lovely all in monochrome except for the odd splash of red a la Schindler's List making it ever-so-slightly different to Limbo. You play as a young boy, again, but this time you have to lug your brother around because he suffers a fall at the beginning of the game. This little brother will be the source of much frustration as you can't solve many of the puzzles with him on your shoulder as your jump distance is limited and you can't pull the levers and little brother is afraid of the dark, which limits where you can place him and will result in you killing him a fair few times because the only light source just so happens to be where the hurtling mine cart will end up. You have been warned, just like Limbo you will die a lot. And be responsible for your brother's end too. Tut tut.

The thing is the addition of a brother, or anyone that your character feels responsible for should add more charm to the game. You should feel scared for the characters - I know I did playing Limbo - and Monochroma falls incredibly short of the mark here. The only thing I felt after I'd killed off one or both of the siblings was annoyance at having to play that part again. The puzzles and platforming are so pernickety that repeating any section felt like a chore more or less straight away. There was one puzzle in particular that involved you having to drop down onto a barrel that is floating in water. The amount of times I either just missed the sodding thing or landed on it only to fall of it in the next second was just ridiculous. The controls are not responsive enough to allow for this and I ended up playing this section for ages because each time I landed in it I died and had to drag the frigging lit barrel back outside to the rain again. 

Overall I really didn't enjoy my time with Monochroma. I could;t help but compare it to Limbo for the extent of my play through and not one single part of Monochroma felt better than Limbo had. In fact, after playing this game I started up Limbo on my Xbox One (after only ever completing it on 360 previously) and just gloried in how magnificent that game is. Monochroma made me yearn for Limbo, and that can never be considered a good thing. Skip this one guys.

3/10 SKIP IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

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