A big goal of gaming has always been immersing players into a new world. In Tabletop experiences this would start with adventure games, or through text adventures on a PC screen. If we didn't have the graphical power to render a dragon then we would get to read about it in-game. These adventure games guide players through exploring and interacting with the world, problem-solving their way to the end. Adventure Games: Monochrome Inc from Thames and Kosmos takes the narrative style of tabletop RPGs and pairs it with the inventory and exploration of a point and click game in their new adventure
Included in the box is an Instruction Book, Adventure Book, Adventure Cards, Character figures, and Level Cards. The instruction book warns that you need to set up the game, not looking at anything else until you're ready to begin. Through setting up the game you'll get an idea of how in-depth this adventure game will be. Floor cards A through D get laid out, one on top of another to simulate floors of the building, and elevator card F1 will allow for travel between them. As your characters have only walked in on the ground floor only A will be viewable to you. Players then take turns to explore, collect and use items, and uncover the secrets that Monochrome Inc is hiding.
The intricacy of the game comes down to the way you interact with the world around you either by exploring rooms or by using items. Each item and location in the game is represented by a number. For items it will be two digits and related to the cards in the Adventure Deck, locations on the map are all three-digit numbers.
Here you see a character on the first floor, if you go over to the "104" in the bottom left you'll look up in the book and read
Someone has carelessly just left some items lying around. Take adventure card 10 and 11.
Those cards are "10. Rope Ladder" and "11. Grappling Hook." Then next turn you can use it to try combining items, you put the two numbers together always using the lower number first. Combining 10 and 11 would mean I look up entry 1011 in the book and it says
You attach the hook to the rope ladder. That should allow you to reach previously inaccessible places! Return adventure cards 10 and 11 to the box and take adventure card 12.
That's "12. Grappling Ladder." Then if you know 103 talked about a vent high above you on your next turn you combine the numbers with the smallest first. Adventure Card 12 and room location 103 means 12103. That entry in the Adventure Book will then tell you the result of using the Grappling Ladder on the vent above the monitor.
While at first, this system was a bit confusing the number of options provided to the player is extremely impressive. It isn't just successes that you can find in the Adventure Book either, there will be plenty of cases where nothing will happen or there will be a comedic interaction. If you make the wrong move it could also mean raising the alarm or any other number of bad effects.
The driving force while playing Advanture Games Monochrome Inc is down to the player gathering in all the information. The locations that they've visited and the adventure cards they posses will all assist them in progression. While there are some steps that are extremely obvious there are a few with more questionable logic. The game isn't completely unforgiving as there are hints but players will be required to think outside the box. There's a real sense of satisfaction for both the player who manages to solve the puzzle as well as the team. Your continual progress can change rooms, opening new possibilities, as well as grant you access to new items and new areas of the building.
The game gets broken into three definitive chapters. Each recommends 90 minutes to complete so if you're trying to complete the game with your friends you're in for the long haul. With players conversing over options, planning out turns, and trading items the bigger the party the longer you'll find you end up taking. If the focus on playing begins to get lost then it can severely affect the game. If you need to take a break throughout the game there are even instructions on how to 'save' your progress using the plastic sleeves included.
Ending the game and scoring your adventure takes into account a large number of factors. You'll stumble upon evidence against the company, how many times you triggered the alarm on your journey, and even end game decisions will influence how the story ends. Being a game with a static story it does mean that for many players you'll only get a single play out of the title. This has got to be Adventure Games Monochrome Inc's biggest drawbacks. For many players, it might almost be a better idea to play recklessly on your first attempt. This will allow you to experience interesting fail states before playing to complete the whole story.
The Bottom Line:
Monochrome Inc takes a formula that many gamers have seen before in titles like Escape from Monkey Island or Sam and Max but applies it to a tabletop setting. While there's a major drawback of only one story, limiting overall replayability, for what will be a 3-5 hour experience for most it's still worth the experience. The system for exploring the world, combining items together, and using items on locations is extremely robust. Players will find themselves really flexing their problem-solving abilities as they make their way through the adventure.
Get this game If:
- You're a fan of traditional Point and Click Adventures
- You enjoy games that can be played over multiple sittings
- You have a group of friends that enjoy mysteries (there's also a single-player mode)
Avoid this game if:
- You want a game that you can play over and over again
- Want a game you can relax with, not stress over
Adventure Games: Monochrome Inc was reviewed with a copy provided to TechRaptor by the Publisher.