Monolith is a top-down roguelike shooter game released in 2017 by Team D-13.
Story + Gameplay
Monolith is a dungeon crawler shooter game promising you different levels each play-through. You explore an abandoned site in search for more power, fighting big bosses along the way. Each level/stage is very well crafted as well as the placement of each obstacle and trap. There’s even a map on the side to show you which places you’ve explored, and a feature to let you teleport to each explored area.
As there is a variety to the structure per level, there is also variety in the enemies you face. The skills that matter most in Monolith are quick thinking and reflexes. There are too many instances where you make close calls. It’s very much like solving puzzles in a short amount of time. It may be hard to play for people that haven’t played these kinds of games before.
The twin-stick controls makes it feel like a retro arcade game, allowing for an agile ship to avoid the hellish attacks coming in from each enemy. You run into different “shops” to find different upgrades to change the way your ship attacks, and to also replenish health. Even these are heavy decisions to make since it affects your playing greatly for a few levels. Power-ups don’t last as you really just salvage what you come across in the dungeon.
Monolith isn’t only about shooting/slashing as the game somehow makes you look forward to dying. Roguelikes are known to be frustrating since you want to be able to make it to certain levels or beat certain bosses, which is the charm of the genre. There are some unexpected comedic elements in play that make you enjoy the game a lot more.
Playing Monolith with a controller is much better cause it makes playing and maneuvering much easier, but playing with the keyboard and mouse is fine, too. Though you might feel a little tired since the game demands quick moves.
Art + Music
The music of Monolith greatly influences the game and makes it twice as exciting, further pumping more adrenaline into your system as you take on crazy attacking, and the amount of bullets you’ll have to avoid.
Based from the design, the game makes you really think that it might be old, but it was released in 2017. It successfully creates a classic feel with its own personality surfacing unexpectedly. It features really great sound design and graphics, from the bigger areas to the nitty-gritty, tinier details.
The game teaches you enough of the basics and lets you explore further as you progress, which I think is such a retro trait. As the ship can upgrade and handle different kinds of weapons, it shows and stays on your ship with matching sound effects, making for a creative playthrough. You don’t forget what new features you picked up in this way.
Monolith strays from the usual genre of games I play. Though I have played roguelike games before, such as The Binding of Isaac, and a couple more mobile games, I’m not usually a fan of shooter games. It surprised me that Monolith was enjoyable for me with that in mind.
It was pretty disappointing that the game doesn’t support saving on the Steam Cloud. Though I noticed that experienced gamers of this genre actually found Monolith really easy to play that the developers had to make the levels harder.
If you’re like me and you’re exploring game genres, I would wait for a sale before buying this game. But if you’re a roguelike lover, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this.
Rating: 9 / 10
The game is only available on Windows and Linux. Download the game’s demo here!
My favorite part of the game really was dying, as it rewarded me each time. I would like to thank my friend Javvy for playing this with me, and especially Erik Johnson and Tim Wetzel of the Indie Bros. for sending me the game!