‘Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine’ review: Thievery (and epic music) abound

Above, a scene from the co-op game "Monaco: What's Yours is Mine. (Photo credit: Pocketwatch Games)

Above, a scene from the co-op game “Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine. (Photo credit: Pocketwatch Games)

‘Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine’ simply addictive fun

Playing “Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine” has to be as close as I can get to being bathed in techno-infused color as I can get. You know what? I’m OK with that.

This charming and increasingly challenging co-op heist game from indie developer Pocketwatch Games (purchasable on Steam, PC and Xbox Live Arcade) is by far one of the most addicting, engaging and rewarding co-op games on the market. It combines the most effective and memorable elements from classic crime movies with the “Why can’t I stop playing this?!” effect of simple arcade games. Basically, it’s a smorgasbord of pop- and synth-heavy fun.

Playing alone, you’re treated to a surprisingly in-depth story. But this game, if there ever was one, is not meant to be played solo. Gathering up to three friends to join you on your heists will reward with a chaotic and demanding game you’ll be playing long after you’re late for work.

During the course of 30 chapters, you’ll find yourself lifting banks, freeing fellow thieves, escaping burning yachts and so much more, all of which is typical fare as you weave your way through this intricate story. Think of a mix between “The Usual Suspects” and “Reservoir Dogs” with spy gadgets galore and enough technicolor to drown a rainbow. A strange amalgamation, I admit.

At the game’s beginning, you have a choice of just a few characters, though they are key for progressing. As you do so, you unlock more characters capable of distinct abilities and unique animations. A total of eight bandits will be playable if you so choose, and the ability to jump back into any previously played level with a new set of thieves (either in group or by yourself) adds enormous replay value. Learning their strengths and weaknesses is one of the most effective ways to complete your missions. You just need to smash through walls? Try the Mole character. Security systems harassing you? Swap for the Hacker instead.

When you’re running solo, chances are each mission will take you a few times as you learn the map and deduce which bandit will best suit your needs and goals.

But as I already said, “Monaco” shines when you have more than one player in the midst of all this chaos. Yes, you share an end goal and you help each other when needed, but there’s still enough competitiveness to keep you all on your toes. (I have a penchant of wanting to collect all the coins and loot scattered around the map regardless of where my teammates were. Awful, I know, but I wanted that money!) For those who can’t gather with friends in person to play (myself included), online (and cross-platform) multiplayer is available.

For those who want style while robbing their way to glory, you’ve come to the right place. While minimalistic in nature, “Monaco” is the definition of stylish pixelization. Vibrant and lavish, locales just about pop out at you, that’s how well design is executed. Small hiccups do happen when some of the detail doesn’t show up right away. (Think of it as slow chunk-loading.) It can hamper your escape when you run into a security panel instead of a door.

That may happen because of the game’s line-of-sight treatment. It’s top-down, but only for your personal view. Your thief, however, can only see like a normal pixelated thief would. You rarely known what’s on the other side of a closed door until you open it. This also applies to the security personnel chasing you down, too, so use it to your advantage.

You need all those advantages, too, because no matter how skilled you and your team are, you are nearly guaranteed to botch up things more than a few times. Never have I seen missions go wrong so quickly and everyone just completely lose their minds. That gameplan? Right out the window. Now it’s just this frenetic scramble to make it out alive. Which, as you progress, will become ever-more difficult. Nothing like being gunned down by some brute while about 2 feet from the getaway car.

Have I mentioned the score? Thanks to a brilliant Austin Wintory (the Grammy-nominated composer of “Journey”), “Monaco” comes with an energetic and infectious 1960s jazz throwback composition. At times it fades and allows you to sneak without bass distracting you. Become noticed, and that changes to this fast-paced instrumental adding tension and energy.

All in all, for just a few bucks, “Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine” is by far one of the best multiplayer purchases you can make. It’s pure and enjoyable, and the cooperative nature of the game is out-of-this-world fantastic. You’ll quickly find yourself plotting your next heist before you know. Just remember, if we find ourselves playing a mission together, I’m always the Cleaner.

Four technicolor stars out of five.

Editor’s note: This game was reviewed for the Mac.

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