GAME NAME: Monochroma
DEVELOPER(S): Nowhere Studios
PUBLISHER(S): Nowhere Studios
GENRE(S): Puzzle, Platformer, Adventure, Indie
RELEASE DATE(S): May 28th, 2014
Monochroma is a puzzle platform adventure game where you play as a little boy in the 1950’s. Moreover, you’re tasked with carrying your younger brother around on your back as you navigate your way through the world. If that sounded daunting enough, you’ll also need to solve puzzles, move boxes around, swing around a bunch and do a fair bit of jumping, among other things. Beyond that, the aesthetics of the game are quite beautiful. You’re in a 2D world run by a strange, evil corporation and the entire world is black, white and grey – with the occasional red object for aesthetic purposes. The weather is dark and depressing, and a gloomy storm is present throughout the game.
In the beginning of the game, you start out in a cornfield where you see a kite in the distance; you move towards the kite and see that your younger brother has hurt himself. Injured and unable to support his own weight, you have to carry him throughout the game and both brothers must survive, obviously. Your younger brother is petrified of the dark, however, so if you have to put him down while you’re solving a puzzle, then it has to be in the light where he feels safe.
Throughout the entire experience of Monochroma, there is no articulated storyline or communication given to the player (it’s all suggested and subtle). It’s a little upsetting being thrown into the lives of two boys without telling me anything about what’s going on. Did my brother and I witness something? Why are we running? Why are men chasing us? Who is this evil corporation and what do they have to do with us? Sure, I can look at my surroundings for clues, but there is nothing giving the narrative any real substance, something that I really enjoy in my games.
As far as playing Monochroma goes, the controls seem simple enough, but there are times when it’s a little too clumsy and it frustrates you to the point of just wanting to stop playing the game. You know exactly what to do to solve the puzzle, but it’s rather annoying when your character refuses to do what you want him to. In the beginning, it’s all right because it’s relatively simple, but as you progress you will be required to accomplish more and more varied tasks; it quickly becomes more complicated and the controls just fail you. Then you wonder to yourself, “Is my strategy for this puzzle wrong or are these confounded controls the reason for my frustration?!”
You can also quite easily die by “falling” a short distance that I’m sure I would have survived in any other game. And when you die and you have to sit through 5 seconds of you and your brother dying followed by a loading screen before it lets you continue, well it eventually gets on your nerves.
There really isn’t a whole lot to say about Monochroma. The game gets boring very quickly. It’s very linear and requires you to travel from one puzzle to the next, doing something very similar at each point. When I first saw Monochroma, I was excited about playing it. As it turns out, it was only the visuals that made it eye catching and not the actual game itself, which is a pity. As far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t recommend it short of an immense discount on a Steam sale.