‘Help! The human’s trying to escape!’ ‘Get your paws off me you dirty ape!’ *Gasp* ‘He can talk, he can talk, he can talk, he can talk, he can talk, he can talk, he can talk!’ ‘I can SIIIING!’ All monkey pop culture aside these monkeys sure can’t sing, but they can platform, take part in competitive one-on-one death matches, they can leave bombs, climb walls, double jump, shoot guns and even enjoy a good perk or five! But wait, why would they be doing that in the first place?
Well, that’s because the minds from the BAFTA award-winning indie group Five Mind Games came up with a nutty story – in the future, mankind have invented an energy device, but once it’s turned on it devastates half the universe. Who cares, it worked! Energy now can come in the form of blue cubes of power, hoorah! But not all is awesome, all of those glowing cubes of power are all stuck in the future, and that’s where you come in with your monkeys. It’s just not cost effective to send people into the future, plus it’s probably dangerous, so you come in and send off a group of ‘enjoyably expendable’ monkeys into the future to do the dirty work for us. However it won’t be that easy as energy is precious, there will be other monkeys out there willing to fight to the death to get the treasured power cubes. All of this, plus the voice talents of Kevin Eldon whom you may recognise from Brass Eye, IT Crowd, Nighty Night and various other British comedies.
The story of Gun Monkey may be out of this world, but the gameplay and goals are very down to Earth and familiar. Players control their monkeys with W,A,S,D, shoot with E, jump with SPACEBAR and drop a bomb with the left SHIFT key. If however if this isn’t to your preference the players can change the keys at their leisure. Players may also use a controller to play if they wish. Some players may actually find this a lot easier as the in-game action can get rather frantic and require quick reflexes – nothing is more infuriating than losing a game to a miss-pressed key! Five Mind Games certainly did the right thing in making the controls very minimal as they complement the fast and frantic gameplay perfectly, making the game very easy to learn and hard to master.
Players enter battles by selecting a server/steam group and waiting for a challenger to appear. Honestly this can take quite a while and at the moment there aren’t many challengers so you’ll want a friend to purchase the game too. Once the battle has started, it’s a one-on-one fight for the cubes. Players must approach cubes and pick them up by crouching precisely on top of them – you won’t pick them up if you are not pixel perfect which, whilst frustrating, definitely adds to the frenzied atmosphere. Then you must rush back to base without getting hit to drop off your cubes at your base. The winner is whoever gets the most points at the end of the game. Players gain points by dropping off cubes, and lose points by getting killed by the opposing player. You can kill off other players by shooting them with your gun and tactically placing mines. Both players have the same guns however there are pickups that randomly drop around the level which will upgrade your gun until you die, for example, there is a pick up that will give homing missiles, and another that allows guns to shoot through walls. Not all pickups are gun related; there are pickups that will make changes to your opponent such as making them run in slow motion or dropping their health to a minimum. Pickups add a lot of variety to the game and an extra level of competition, players will be fighting and having to decide between getting good pickups or getting the most cubes.
More points for a player means more money for a player, which you can use to purchase perks for your team of monkeys. Perk costs range from $100-$7000 and the abilities they give your monkeys range from little bonuses like a jump boost, to very large changes such as increasing the reward for returning 3 cubes by 10%. The latter may seem overpowered, however that is the perk that costs $7000, which does mean players will have to be playing and winning an awful lot of death matches with other players. This provides a lot of incentive for players to keep coming back to the game if they want to get all the perks. However, this may become an issue in the future due to the lack of match-making options in the game. Players do get to choose who they challenge, but it may be easier for players to find suitable opponents through a matchmaking option, especially when the game becomes more popular.
The levels within which the death-matches take place seem to be random, but overall it’s just the same level over and over again with the same black platforms placed in a different spot in the level. This isn’t particularly a bad thing, the monkeys can jump and climb so really what more is needed than a few black platforms close together to create tight challenges with the other monkey? If updates occur for Gun Monkeys then it would be nice to see some different levels – perhaps it could take place on a different planet with a different sort of environment, with different sorts of terrain to climb up to add another layer of challenge.
Aesthetically and musically the game is great. Gun Monkeys host some very catchy tunes that work well with the fast-paced gaming and space/futuristic atmosphere of the game. Players may want to edit the audio settings before they begin though, especially if they’re wearing a headset, as the volume is automatically set to very loud. The art style is lovely, very simplistic but effective, again this works well with the game because during a fast paced match you need to know exactly where your character is and where the other player’s character is. The hairy little neon silhouette is very hard to miss.
Gun Monkeys is a great game for people who enjoy quick-paced and reflex testing one-on-one combat. The one thing Gun Monkeys is missing is a 2V2/3V3 player option. This isn’t something that’s particularly necessary for Gun Monkeys to be good, it is a good game. However it would certainly benefit from having this game mode as an option as one-on-one death matches to become rather stale after a while. Gun Monkeys is definitely the type of game that would be a hit at LAN parties and amongst groups of friends. So the addition of a 2V2/3V3 player option would definitely become a great selling point for the game if it was to be added on. This, matchmaking option and a few extra levels would definitely give Gun Monkeys the final push it needs in becoming a well-loved Steam favourite.
The controls are simple to learn, gameplay is fun and challenging, the music is nice and suitable for the game, plus Kevin Eldon’s comments throughout battles will make you crack a smile. Gun Monkey is currently available on Steam for both Windows and Mac for £6.29 for a limited time; the regular price is £6.99. Or buy a two-pack available for £9.44/10.49 if you’re feeling generous and want to gift fast-paced-fun to a friend.
Editors Comment ” Gun Monkeys has a lot of Potential, However as with all Multi-Player based Games, if there are no players available then the game just becomes another place holder. When you do manage to get a match then this game shines and is bloody fun to play”.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.