Monaco: What's Yours is Mine Review

Join the Smooth Criminals

No self-respecting criminal can do without an accomplice. Someone who knows how to pull the strings and help pull off a long and deadly heist. However, choosing accomplices in Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine is quite risky. The secret agent hired to commit the crime is your own imagination. The secret agent resides inside the gamer’s head.

Your imagination will have to translate and embellish. Convert top-down game mazes into the sparkling vaults of the French Riviera. Mentally transform the elegant two-dimensional designs of this nimble toy, a genre that can be described as “steal-them-all,” into luxurious hotels, casinos, and museums just waiting to be cleaned out. This clever trick suggests that the folks at Pocketwatch Games have done an outstanding job. However, even more amazing is that the developers had the courage to employ this gameplay method from the very first minutes of the game.

Adventures like this require a certain mindset – the quick-thinking, confident mentality of a seasoned thief. Like a pixelated Danny Ocean. The game uses stylish, abstract visuals and arcade mechanics to create completely unpredictable gameplay situations. It’s fun to play alone or with up to four players. You are offered two interconnected campaigns (one easier to get into the swing of things, and the other more challenging, providing a real test for the player), which tell a decent criminal story filled with clever plot twists and deceptions. And finally, the game relies entirely on the power of your imagination, but this time, such an approach will leave almost no one dissatisfied. Gather a team of stubborn tough nuts, settle in one of the wealthiest city-states in the world, rob any establishment that appeals to your criminal mind, and avoid getting caught by the police, as such encounters make your escape quite difficult.

Exploring the Second Floor in Monaco

Monaco is a place of perfect contrast with an era of harsh economy, and the heist of this marvelous city is also the most suitable structure for a video game. Each of the criminals you hire has a set of unique skills (for example, the mole can break walls, and the redhead can charm police officers with a kiss), while individual crimes can resemble Pac-Man mechanics: the same frantic pace in a complex and enclosed space, the same chilling moments of fear between attack and escape. If you need a real-world example, something similar can be experienced in certain situations in the board game Cluedo.

The intricate mazes made up of numerous narrow corridors and spacious halls only intensify the tension, creating a truly brilliant portrayal of a seasoned criminal. Monaco has everything you need to start thinking like a real thief. Putting on the mask of a seasonal housebreaker, you gradually learn to be wary of empty spaces, whether it’s a kitchen or an inner courtyard, and escaping through the city’s sewer channels provides a palpable sense of relief that no one is chasing after you. Even when playing with friends, you will long for the darkness, while mentally noting patrol routes, the placement of guards around each level’s main target, as well as the locations of medkits and weapons. You will constantly remind yourself of all the entrances and exits. Being a professional criminal means constantly thinking about multiple things at once: Monaco’s maps are filled with short corridors and sharp turns, and a mission won’t truly be interesting to you unless it consists of three or four similar maps stacked on top of each other, where you’ll have to work hard to hide from turrets, laser traps, and brutal guards, constantly diving into a dynamic fog of war, behind which lies only uncertainty.However, the fastest routes are never the most interesting, so you will use them as rarely as possible. Not least because you have enough tools and means to cope with the situation if things go wrong. Along with several perks that you choose for your character, each of them can defaultly pick locks, hack security systems, disguise themselves, as well as pick up weapons or other gadgets. Interacting with all these things takes time – precious seconds during which you fervently pray to the countdown god because you become dangerously vulnerable to guards – such a situation may seem too demanding for the player, but in fact, it introduces an element of joyful chaos into the game. During the first playthrough, with friends or without, constantly changing lines of sight and an incredible number of available possibilities push you to act first and think later, and in general, play improvisationally, sowing chaos and confusion everywhere with a cheeky grin on your face. In such moments, the game comes alive, reminiscent of those lightning-fast POV scenes from the early Coen brothers’ films.

Pocketwatch did not set out to create a stealth game that works like a crystal-clear puzzle, even though Monaco contains a few moments when you need to think carefully before appearing in the security-public. Instead, the game offers a scene of chase taken to the extreme, the tension of which increases gradually and then spectacularly explodes, becoming an endless chaos in which reckless improvisation is actively encouraged. Mistakes and misses are not deadly and are rather entertaining – often you rush towards the intended goal in the style of an unprepared and impulsive adventurer.

Navigating the Treacherous Path to the Docks

The main part of the first AI campaign is stupidly helpful – in most situations, the guards simply don’t pull out their guns and quickly forget about your presence. Cops encountered during your illegal outings are relatively dumb and relatively numerous, making them suitable opponents for the game mechanics that elevate ancient thievery to a new level: running away, hiding behind flower pots, waiting a few seconds, and then diving back into the fight – it’s more than just an exciting activity. Just as movies don’t like heists that go smoothly without any hiccups, Monaco wants you to enjoy running away from the police dogs before hiding from the crime scene. The game wants you to see any disaster as another opportunity.

However, if you enjoy running headlong or have a tendency to collect things, Monaco has something to surprise you with. To unlock the second campaign, you will need to fully complete the first one, gathering your criminal gang and along the way, grabbing some poorly guarded loot. It’s not easy, but it’s thrilling. Now you have to use your brain and plan every step to avoid falling into the clutches of the relentless police, as well as tap into your tactical instincts to determine the order of choosing gang members because after each death, you return to the ranks as a different character with different abilities. An interesting concept instead of the standard life system.

You will appreciate the devilish style that brings together all the elements of Monaco, expressed, for example, in the fact that the time you spend picking locks or hacking computers is your most vital resource, or in how the amount of gold you collect affects the capacity of your weapon magazine. While the solo campaign is surprisingly strategic, the multiplayer feels more like a second-rate (in a good way) crime thriller, like Left 4 Dead: Lavender Hill Mod.

Venturing into the Street-Level Adventures

Considering that the maps of Monaco are quite spacious, multiplayer should be approached as a fun, bloody bath, permeated with moments of almost instinctive teamwork. However, such moments are not very common: for every case of excellent synchronization, there are several cases where even the best of thieves find themselves separated from each other by alarm signals, stumbling upon laser traps, and being shot at by turrets. Create chaos! And enjoy it to the fullest. Revel in this chaotic and fun hustle and bustle, because the characters will eventually come together again. You can laugh like a maniac without any restraint, because the campaign ultimately boils down to a surprisingly inventive (and thematically inevitable) culmination.

Stealth, chaos, cops, and robbers: if you want, you can describe this game in separate pieces – carefully thought-out AI fallacies, weapon limitations, cat-and-mouse games in intricate halls and corridors – but Monaco truly comes alive only when all these moments converge. Pocketwatch’s game is a victory of vanity as much as it is a victory of design, which is largely ensured by excellent sound design, whether it’s the furious tapping of fingers on a computer keyboard or the scraping of lockpicks in a lock, not to mention the delightfully strange bug-like animation that brings your tiny housebreakers to life.

Try hacking a computer in the midst of a criminal heist, and you will see the true scale of Monaco’s gaming magnificence. Right before your eyes, the electronic trail sweeps across the entire map, reaches some alarm system, and disables it – one for each hacked PC. And it looks absolutely amazing, not to mention that indescribable feeling that allows you to vividly imagine yourself as a resourceful hacker, something that not every Hollywood cat scene can do.

The ambient music by Austin Wintory, which plays in sync with your split-second decisions; the fountains and fireplaces that attract your gaze with the shimmering of tiny colored squares; the brilliant criminal plans that crumble due to clumsy teamwork… it is very difficult not to admire the meticulousness, integrity, and fundamental steadfastness of Monaco. It is a magnificent example of reimagining art and design, as well as a bold example of using indie principles in the creation of a big-budget spectacle.

Like any good con artists, the guys from Pocketwatch Games understand the immense power of persuasion. They see you as a gullible simpleton… who will turn out to be an excellent thief.

9 out of 10 indie points possible.
Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine
PC, Xbox 360
Action, Indie, Co-op
Majesco Entertainment
Pocketwatch Games
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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