Monaco is an indie title that’s been in development by Pocketwatch Games for about two and half years, and it’s one title that this gamer has been very excited for. I got to get my hands on it at PAX East and can say with great confidence that this is shaping up t be a must-have title when it launches later this year.

Monaco is a game where one-to-four players team up to perform a heist. Andy Schatz, founder of Pocketwatch Games, describes the title as being a mix between Ocean’s Eleven and Gauntlet, or Pac-Man meets Hitman. Each player will have to choose between one of eight classes, each with specific special talents. Initially, only four characters will be available and the others will be unlocked once players encounter them in the game.

Players will first notice the game’s unique art style. It has a three dimensional pixel look to it. The camera is directly above the action, giving the player a full view of the environment however, players can only see what’s in their field of vision. When looking down from above, the environments look similar to a blueprint. Moving around will expose hallways and other elements in the player’s field of view and this can cause some hairy situations when coming around a corner or going through a door only to realize a guard is standing right there. The colors are vibrant and there is this relaxing ambient glow to everything, relaxing until an alarm is tripped, that is.

Monaco PAX East 2012 Hands On Map

Monaco is a cooperative heist game and naturally gamers will want to be stealthy and silent when breaking into a building. Players can be stealthy, but the game is designed to work with any play style, and players are rewarded regardless. In fact, when playing with four people, the game can be anything but quiet. Other players will frequently alert guards or set off an alarm. This leads to panic – everyone scrambling to get out of sight or just running like mad to get out of danger. Most of Monaco’s fun is had with multiple players, but the game can be played solo as well.

As stated before, each character has their own special skills, but they are not needed to complete objectives. Players are encouraged to try out different classes and thus, come up with new strategies. For example, the Hacker can hack security systems and shut off lasers, making infiltrating a vault easier. The Mole on the other hand, has the ability to break through any wall. Those preferring a more direct route to their reward will want to choose him.

The controls are really simple. The only two buttons that the player will utilize are the ones to sneak and use a specific piece of gear picked up in a level. Gear can consist of C4, a shotgun or smoke grenades. The main focus of this game isn’t combat though, but getting to the goal and getting out. The time players will have with weapons will be very brief so they shouldn’t get too attached. All the other controls are handled with the left stick or keys being used for movement. All players have to do to interact with the environment is to push towards that item. Hacking, lock picking, even using the bathroom can be done from the analog stick.

Monaco PAX East 2012 Hands On Objective

For the majority of PAX, there was always a crowd around the Pocketwatch booth to see and play this title. When we were able to finally get our hands on the game we realized why. I was teamed up with three random people and not only did we gel well to complete objectives we still had a blast when we screwed up. We just had just as much fun messing up as we did being good at the game and so it’s never punishing for that reason.

Monaco hasn’t officially been confirmed for XBLA PSN, thought we expect it to. Just like Castle Crashers, Monaco just screams console multiplayer.

Monaco is due out this year for PC and Mac later this year, and a offical announcement on which consoles it will be launching on will be made at a later date.

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