Do Not Feed the Monkeys
Developer: Fictiorama Studios
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: 12
Release Date: 01/06/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
For the Love of God Leave the Monkey Alone
Every so often a game comes along that catches you unawares. The great thing about writing reviews is that sometimes when faced with a list of possible titles, you make a choice based on any number of criteria. This time around, it was the name.
I knew nothing about the title, but when I saw a game called Do Not Feed the Monkeys, I just had to give it a try. Venturing into this game with no expectations, other than (in hindsight, foolishly) expecting something to do with monkeys.
Boy was I ever wrong. Keep reading to find out what this game was all about.
A Clever Visual Design
The game has a retro aesthetic, and this lends itself well to the nature of the game. A game that is wholly unlike anything I have played in recent memory. It is not about the visuals, even though you do need to pay close attention to what is going on. It is more a game about balance.
I liked the way the game was presented. From the intrigue about the organization or ‘club’, you are a member of, to the old-school computer monitor design of the game’s main page.
The audio of the game was minimal but also necessary as you needed to pay attention to the sounds of the environment. From a growling stomach reminding you to eat, to the sound of your always miserable landlady knocking to collect her rent. While none of these sounds were necessarily quiet, especially the shrill chirp of the phone, it was still vital that you heard them, and a powerful soundtrack would have ruined this.
Interesting Premise but a Frantic Balancing Act
Where to start when talking about the actual gameplay aspect of this game. I’m not even sure what genre this would be placed. I supposed you would say it is a simulation game. It is a twisted voyeuristic experience mixed with a resource management sim and you had to be on your toes to make it through.
The premise itself sounds complicated and with relatively little explanation of how things work, it is easy to get overwhelmed and find yourself in hospital and/or arrested. I’m going to try and capture everything the game needs you to do.
Big Brother is Watching You
So the main premise of the game is managing your monkey cages. You start with four cages, and you need to add a set number of new ‘cages’ each week to remain part of the club. Each week will see you rise another level in the organizational pyramid.
Each cage is a live hidden video feed of a room. The first is an attic where you observe a man spying on a woman across the road. You need to watch the board and follow each cam as it comes live. Note down key words and phrases in your notebook. From there, you need to group words and deduce the correct group name from a list of three. After that, you need to pick different words or group names and search the web for more information. You can also gather contact details and make phone calls to further your investigation.
Once you have enough data gathered, you close off the story in a cage. There are different ways to achieve this, such as informing a UFO hunter about the appearance of crop circles in a field, or by tipping off the police to a dangerous stalker, to answering questions posed by the club leadership.
Keep an Eye on your Inbox
If watching the ever-increasing number of boxes wasn’t enough, you also need to keep moving back to the desktop of your pc to check and read emails. This is in the form of special offers for food, to questions and special cage studies performed by the club. This gives you a monetary reward and closes the cage if you get the answer right.
This is not an overly complex process, but after a while, you have so many cages and so many studies you need to keep flicking between the two to remind yourself what is coming up and what deadline is first. Of course, you can only answer the questions if you have gathered enough clues to deduce the right answer.
It’s a frantic and head twisting game that needs to be played with full focus on concentration. Several times I found myself bouncing between four or five active screens, trying to grab all the details, all the while answering the door to pay my rent or receive a package. It’s a crazy ride, but wait, it doesn’t stop there. You also need to learn how to take care of yourself.
This Game is an Allegory for so Many Things
So, while that is the core gameplay and story driving component, you also need to make sure you look after yourself. This includes eating, drinking, sleeping, and yes, even working. You need to earn money to buy cages, which at $50 a pop and a minimum purchase requirement of five new cages a week, you need to hustle. Move around your apartment and make the choices between healthy living and keeping your heart in check, and the cheaper option of fast food. This replenishes your hunger faster but at the cost of your health bar.
The jobs are also all time based, so you need to check the options each morning and if you see one that’s good pay for the right hours, note down the working times and keep an eye on the clock. It’s very easy for time to get away from you.
I ended up in hospital on one play though for being sleep deprived and driving my health bar to zero.
I liked the crazy nature of the game. It was a wild and imaginative ride, with characters ranging from Hitler to David Bowie all making an appearance in my cages.
The writing was funny but simple. Don’t let that confuse you though. You do need to be on the top of your game to make it through each day.
Move Up the Pyramid
The name of the game is simply to watch the cages, solve the puzzles that each one offers, and try not to die, get evicted or arrested. The whole time there is one single rule that you need to abide by. Do Not Feed the Monkeys.
This was a challenging game and I really enjoy that about it. Some games are fun and easy to play. Others are a laugh but require some skill, and then you get some games that need your attention and hold it.
It wasn’t that there was a single complex or interesting story. The club element was vague and cliché for a pyramid scheme and the individual cages were likewise relatively straight forward. It was more the thought you needed to deduce certain clues, especially for the internet searches. The frantic nature of the game is what made it addictive. Your eyes were constantly scouring the screen, jumping from app to app, working your butt off to keep up with your expenditure.
Was it stressful? Yes, at times it was, but that’s also part of the charm this game has.
Always Learn from Your Mistakes
This game is built for replay. When you die or get arrested, or evicted from the club, you are returned to the title menu. You have the option to continue the same game but from the start of the day. Often, this is enough to right the wrongs that failed you.
Now, it does lose some of its charm if you start a new game. The cages you get seem to be in a set order, yet you cannot shortcut through to the answers. You need to have noted down the key words and made the connections to be able to answer the emails and make the phone calls. But it is not the cages that tend to be your undoing, it’s the inventory management aspect.
Paying the rent, staying healthy. It’s very easy to lose sight of things. That makes replaying the game more interesting because you learn from your mistakes and make it further and further each time. Slowly, you climb the ladder until you reach the very pinnacle.
There is an addictive nature to the game that strengthens the more you play it. A calm, almost relaxing familiarity of the first few cages. This allows you to spend more time working on your finances and buying more cages. Each time you fail, you know where you went wrong and can easily rectify it with a continue.
Eye Spy With My Little Eye … A Really Enjoyable Game
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Do Not Feed the Monkeys, it was a different game and a welcome breath of fresh air. While I never made it to the top of the company ladder, I am determined to go back and give it another try.
I knew nothing about the developers before I played this game, but their two previous titles, both in their Dead Synchronicity series won multiple awards for everything from design to gameplay and have caught my attention.
If you are looking for a fun and quirky game, that offers something a bit different to the usual then this is the game for you.
There are so many indie games out there, it is refreshing when you come across something like this. Yes, it pushes the boundaries of what is socially acceptable and could be seen as a commentary on so many things in life (pre-COVID-19) but it is done in a tongue in cheek manner that just works.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Do Not Feed the Monkeys for Nintendo Switch at the following link: Nintendo eShop
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.