Dabe Alan

Monaco isn’t a stealth game, says creator. Getting caught is half the fun

Monaco isn’t a stealth game, says creator. Getting caught is half the fun

Monaco is a fascinating game. You are looking down at the level and you can see where each room and door is located, but you can't see what's in those rooms unless your character would be able to physically see inside. You have to have line of sight to see if there is a guard in a room, or someone who will spot you, and this effect makes it look as if rays of light are emanating from your player. You can play with up to four players, and there is a toggle to share sight with each other, but the game’s designer Andy Schatz prefers to play where players have to communicate with each other to share intel. This is why the game’s upcoming Xbox Live Arcade release was so important to him; he wanted friends to play the game with each other while sitting on the same couch. This is a game where you’re trying to sneak into places and steal things, and recreating a heist doesn’t work unless you can talk to each other, and that intimacy is increased by proximity. The game comes alive when a member of your crew is spotted, and you have to find some way to escape. This leads to everyone running around the level, yelling about where they are going, or trying to take out guards while leaving with the required spoils. This isn’t a stealth game, although it can look like one.

Not stealth, heist

“I suspect when the game comes out there will be a significant percentage of people who don’t like the game, and the reason will be that it doesn’t hew to standard mechanics of a stealth game,” Schatz told the Report. Monaco looks like a stealth game, and it's been called that on occasion, but the “emotional arc” of each level is made up of hills and valleys. Being seen means it's time for a little action.“I think that most stealth games are kind of broken. I love the idea of stealth games, but I don’t typically have that much fun with them. But at the same time I played Hide And Seek all through high school,” Schatz explained. “In Hide And Seek, when someone sees you, you make a break for it. To some extent that’s the payoff. All the anticipation of the moment where someone sees you and you have to make a run for it.” The tension of sneaking around, and the chase when discovered, is what gives Monaco its unique rhythm. “We wanted there to be a rise and fall to action. Be quiet be quiet be quiet, oh shoot, I’m seen! And make a run for it. To me that is what a stealth game is supposed to be. That’s what heist movies do too, there is always something that goes wrong, and the slick thieves come up with a clever way to get away, or there’s a car chase. There's no heist movie in which the characters are never close to getting caught. That would not be a fun heist movie,” Schatz explained. The game’s rhythm become apparent when you get caught as much as what happens when you’re successfully sneaking around. Unlike a stealth title where you may reload the level if you’re seen, Monaco deals with the situation. How do you escape? Are there more guards coming? Do you know how to get back out of the building quickly?That tension, and the fast-paced action that happens when you’re found out, is a large part of the game. “This is when Monaco is the most fun,” Joystiq wrote in a 2011 preview of Monaco. “The chaotic rush to find the objective and get out before the guards convene on your position is accompanied by shouting for help, frantic pointing at the screen, and raucous laughter.” Think of it this way: Is your favorite scene in Heat the one where characters are hiding, or when Val Kilmer realizes it's all going down, starts to smile, and lifts up his gun? What happens after you've been seen, and how you deal with the mission as a whole, is what makes the game so special. Stealth is only a part of that and, while Schatz knows that may alienate gamers who want something that's pure stealth, he's okay with that. “I don’t have to please everyone. My wife would never play a stealth game, and she loves Monaco,” he said. “I’m not saying Monaco is sort of a casual stealth game, it’s just a different game.” Monaco is coming to the PC and Xbox Live Arcade this April.