All Style With No Substance –
In recent years, we have seen a boom in indie developers with huge successes. With this dream, many go out to make a game that stands out, but to beat the large companies with armies of designers, they need to think outside the box, which usually means a really novel idea or to be as stylish as possible. Nowhere Studios has chosen the latter.
Monochroma is a 2D side scrolling puzzle platformer which is a feast for the eyes. The art style of this game is definitely a cut above the rest, with its very cool look at a grim, dystopian world with a 1950’s flair. Its use of black and white with red color splash definitely adds to the charm of this game and is used to also give you clear goals while being more subtle than a giant arrow, or god forbid an annoying fairy to tell you what you need to do. Unfortunately, while its designers say it was “influenced” by games like Limbo, but I found it to be far too close to its muse, so it seems it was a bit cheap to take their style and just call it inspiration.
If it was just taking someone else’s style and building on it to make it better it could be forgiven but not only are they far too similar to their competition, they brought nothing else to the table. In fact, they had much worse animations and game mechanics. So maybe they made up for it with challenging, but fulfilling puzzles? No, no they did not. Even all of this would mean less if they had one essential yet missing component: story. Limbo has no story, but that’s not they were going for, it was horror, and it was good. Monochroma on the other hand is supposedly trying to pull at your heartstrings by saddling you with the burden of being the older brother. They do this by making you literally carry your brother throughout the whole game. It’s an essential part of the game, but with something so important, it just feels bothersome. With no story, and no caring for the character, he might as well be just some lump I need to carry everywhere. Cinematics where you learn the backstory where their parents died during World War II and now it’s just them fending for themselves in a trailer in the middle of nowhere would have been a huge help to this game.
I realize that this is Nowhere Studio’s first game but with such a successful Kickstarter I honestly expected more. It wasn’t even that they couldn’t compete with large companies or have amazing graphics, it was just bad decision making on their part. It’s fine to be artsy and hip and look different, but that can’t be all that there is, ask any pop star that lasts more than 15 minutes. I felt there were so many missed opportunities for them to have their own voice, to break the mold, and to stand above their inspirations, but this is not that game.
Written by: Adam