Remember the old dungeon crawlers like Dungeon Master? Remember losing many hours dodging traps and defeating enemies long into the night? Well imagine you’ve spent many a day fighting in real life, looting dungeons as part of the adventure and you’ve found yourself an establishment to drink in, let’s call it The Monkey Tavern. You and your comrades drink so much you’re down to your last pennies when suddenly opportunity arises. Thus you become part of the Heroes of The Monkey Tavern.
That’s pretty much the story, after that initial introduction there’s very little plot on offer. Heroes of The Monkey Tavern is an old school dungeon crawler played in first person. The premise is to battle your way through the 8 levels until you reach the end. On your adventure you will have to navigate various corridors, enter lots of rooms, manipulate various levers, defeat a variety of foes and acquire weapons/loot. You choose your team before your adventure, there are many different classes to choose from including such classic choices as barbarian, mage, priest and warrior.
Heroes of The Monkey Tavern is not a pretty game, the initial introduction leads you to a dungeon that is dark and dingy, it’s all very bland, but i guess old dungeons won’t be the nicest looking pieces of architecture. As it’s first person and there’s no mirrors present in a dungeon all you see of yourself is your weapons whilst the enemies in general are lack a little creativity in design, the first enemy you come across is a snake, it’s a pretty basic looking snake, it;s a big snake but it’s a still a basic looking snake so it’s probably a good thing your able to vanquish it fairly quickly. Movement in Heroes of The Monkey tavern is performed by moving in a grid based fashion. You can only view forward, if you want to see what’s to your left or right you need to do turn 90 degrees, it’s a somewhat limiting way to move around a dungeon and it can become quite cumbersome at times. It’s not difficult to travel this way but it’s just frustrating that you have to use so many buttons to to simply move from one area to another.
Combat in Heroes of The Monkey Tavern is a tad hit and miss. There are four members in your adventuring crew, but they appear to stand in a line when you have to fight an enemy. There is a cooldown on your attacks all based on what weapons/magic that you are using. What you are meant to do is attack with your first team member, then switch to the second member so they can attack/cast some magic. You repeat this until the enemy is vanquished.
The enemy/enemies will attack and hurt your team, you need to defeat it before it kills the team. An interesting mechanic is that you will be penalised greatly if you try to flee or maneuver around a dungeon foe. You lose health if you try to get away, even if you just want to improve your attacking position. On the one hand it adds a unique element you need to consider before you open a hidden door, make sure your fully healed before taking on an enemy to give you a better chance. However on the other hand it’s a very limiting function, you have a team of four who appear to be queuing to hit an enemy but then you’re penalised for moving. The various traps that hurt you help add some more strategy to the way you play, although it’s still fairly annoying to accidentally strafe into a trap when you just simply wanted to turn around on the same spot!
Heroes of The Monkey Tavern is an interesting attempt at the dungeon crawling genre limited by it’s design. The overly complex navigation of the dungeons interspersed with bland graphics and lack of plot unfortunately reduces your engagement with Heroes of The Monkey Tavern. Just a few changes i.e. better movement, more creative enemies and some additional plot devices could have helped Heroes of The Monkey Tavern be a much more enjoyable experience. Unfortunately Heroes of the Monkey Tavern is something only the most hardened dungeon crawlers should apply for!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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