Monomino is a playful puzzle game published by Degica. Originally intended as a final-year project at Nanyang Polytechnic, School of Interactive & Digital Media in Singapore, Monomino has morphed into a full retail release today. It’s not often that the gaming public gets to look at games originally developed by students as final-year projects, so when I got the chance to see what the next generation of game developers were working on, I jumped at the opportunity. But, with a team of student developers behind the game, can Monomino stand up to the stresses of a commercial release?
Monomino is a block-based puzzle game where players must create a safe path for baby-blocks, which happen to fall out of a cloud that holds a pair of romantic block-parents. As the two parents kiss, a new baby-block falls from the sky. The baby-blocks follow the path of least resistance, which will almost always be directly off a cliff. By dropping blocks and using power-ups on the baby-blocks, players can lead them to safety.
At its core Monomino is a game about correctly solving puzzles very quickly. New gameplay mechanics are introduced every 10 levels or so, such as new power-ups or locations on the path that baby-blocks must hit to unlock new pathway-blocks. Adding to the difficulty of puzzles, players only have a few moments before baby-blocks begin falling from the sky and to their death.
While initial puzzles are mostly just a matter of dropping a few blocks, later stages begin to require dropping the pathway-blocks not only in the correct place, but also in the correct order. The power-ups and location-based blocks add a good bit of variety to the puzzles too. Unfortunately, it takes dozens of levels to really add a good mix of those elements to the game. The sense of progression is a bit slow to some degree. Puzzle and gameplay wise, I liken Monomino to something like Eets Munchie. Both games share some common ideas, yet each feels unique enough to stand on its own.
From a gameplay perspective, I wish Monomino did a few small things differently. Once placed, players cannot alter the placement of the pathway-blocks. Since nearly every stage requires placing a limited supply of blocks in the correct location and order, misplacing a single block leads to completely failing the stage. Because each level is either pass or fail, I don’t see much use for the stars rating system that Monomino uses for each stage. I always either got 3 stars or no stars. Any time I failed a puzzle, it was because I was too slow or had placed a block incorrectly. Whenever this happened, I just hit the retry button because I had no other option. I’d much rather see players be able to change a blocks location when baby-blocks begin to fall to their death. A simple change like this would greatly enhance the need for a stars system.
The game’s art design is impossibly cute. The style is sort of a mix between the blockyness of Minecraft and Tetris, with a whole bunch of Saturday morning cartoon added for good measure. Textures are bright and colorful. Most blocks have cute faces. Cute baby-blocks obtain even cuter outfits through use of power-ups. Monomino is cuteness intensified. Though, it’s important to point out the idea of the mommy and daddy blocks kissing and making baby-blocks might be a bit of a touchy subject for some parents. It’s cute for sure, but I can see that leading to some awkward conversations with the little ones, especially in more conservative households.
The game is currently on PC, but may be heading to mobile devices as well, according to the game’s website. Since mobile devices have a much larger audience of youngsters, it’s likely that Monomino will have a much broader appeal on those devices compared to PC. On Steam, Monomino’s core audience is likely going to be dads that buy a cute game for their children to play. On mobile though, Monomino can harness the power of millions of child iPad owners with their parent’s credit cards ready to make appstore purchases. It would make a lot of sense to eventually see this game on mobile devices.
Overall, Monomino should appeal to younger gamers quite well. The art is fantastic and cute, the amount of puzzles should keep gamers entertained for hours. Veteran adult puzzle gamers might not see a lot of challenge in Monomino initially, but rest assured that it is there in deeper stages. If you liked Eets Munchies, you’ll also enjoy Monomino. Puzzle-wise, Monomino can help parents sharpen their youngster’s decision making skills while entertaining them with impossibly cute blocks.
|Developer: Students at NYP, Singapore
|Version Played: Launch Release
|Steam Achievements: No
|Steam Cards: No
|Buy on Steam
Summary: Cuteness on a whole new level. Monomino’s 100 stages should provide hours of entertainment for younger gamers.