Top Critic Average
Monochroma wastes its gripping premise and eye-catching visual design by having clunky controls and a wealth of inconsistencies.
At most, I consider Monochroma serviceable, sometimes more than such. Its soundtrack definitely supersedes the other content even if it is not employed too often. Amidst all the other plateaued features the game has to offer, it's not enough to maintain sufficient buzz or convince jaded gamers not to wait for a seasonal sale.
In the end, it is difficult to recommend Monochroma. Despite its impressive audiovisual presentation, it fails in the areas that make a game a game. It is beautiful in its own dismal way, and the story it tells is decent, but I could not wait for it to end so I would not have to deal with the frustrating control and dull design decisions.
While obviously being influenced by games like Limbo, Monochroma has a flavor and story all its own. Monochroma is a good game at heart, but it's hidden under technical errors and gameplay flaws that gave me no end of frustration. If you're on the fence about buying this game, you should play the Demo they released with their Kickstarter project to see what you think. But at the very least, you should definitely check out the OST by Gevende.
It's a shame that Monochroma ended up this way, as there are sparks of brilliance buried within. There is a real quality to the sound and level design, which really add to the atmosphere and the puzzles could have been challenging with a little extra work. But the poor controls and the frequent frame-rate issues hamper this puzzle platformer.
Unfortunately, while Monochroma looks great, it doesn't play half as great.
Monochroma isn't shy about its influences. It looks like Limbo. It features an escort mechanic similar to Ico. It yearns to express a fraternal bond like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. By defining its look, play-style, and passion through a buffet of modern classics, Monochroma's identity is left to the strength of its execution. Unfortunately while Monochroma's story manages some delicate moments, its gameplay can't escape obscene points of needless frustration and mechanical tedium. It's the latter that comes to define the experience.
The potential was there for something truly special along the lines of Limbo or even perhaps ICO with your immobile brother, but there ended up not being enough reasons to care for the game or the characters within it. Nowhere Studios have an artistic eye that spoke in a unique and moving way to me at first but the technical problems voided that emotional connection and Monochroma ended up being a slog rather than a joy.
What Monochroma gets right, however, is tone and gameplay. The puzzle platforming is fun to solve once you get the feel for character movement, there's a lot of variety in puzzle design, and some very clever level layout ties everything together.
Perhaps such questions aren't meant to be thought about too deeply, but as I struggled with the controls and watched the brothers die over and over again, I couldn't help but wonder what they - and subsequently I - were doing there in the first place.