Don’t you have anything better to do than sitting down and watching a screen all day? No, sorry, I do not want to sound like your parents, but that is indeed an important prerequisite in the career of a cyber-peeping tom. They do want to sit and watch a screen – rather many screens – every day for hours at a time. Ready? Then get into our Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 review.
Coming all the way from Spain, Monkeys 2099 is the direct sequel to 2018’s Do Not Feed the Monkeys which was, personally, one of my favorite indies of the year. The new one is, how to put it, 80% very much the same game. You will be watching screens (so-called cages), waiting for things to happen, and jotting down clues from dialogues and images. Using these clues you can search for new information which can be, then, used to interact with some of the stories, along with sending gifts.
In some cases, you get to decide the fate of the monkey: save them, get them arrested or worse? It is possible to get money from both jobs and random questions about the cages. But, all is not easy in the land of cyberpeeping. Not only in some of the cages (still) nothing will be happening, but you’ll also have to juggle work, sleep, food and health meters. Rent money is also an issue, as every three days you’ll receive a visit from the Council. The “Monkey” club also demands you have enough cages not to get shut down. This is one sick world we live in, let me tell you.
One may ask: did I just describe Do Not Feed the Monkeys or its sequel? Well, that description works for both, nothing much new gameplay-wise here. With the core gameplay of Monkeys very much intact, there are a couple of new features. First, the OmniPal, an AI sitting on your desk which can be used in certain cases (like investing money). Plus, there is the Peephole, to find out who is knocking at your apartment before opening. Nothing really groundbreaking or that it modifies the core in any way, so if you’re a fan of the original, then get ready as there is more to chew on here.
But, still, there is one major new thing. As its title does suggest, Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 takes place in the future. This does not really alter things dramatically in terms of gameplay, which seems a bit of a missed opportunity. Narrative-wise, what might have been a chance to do something interesting, seems to have just been used to poke fun at some of the current trends, such as AI and robots. Sure, now planets are sponsored by corporations, but I’m guessing you have seen that already in some 90s movie with either Stallone or Rutger Hauer.
So what about the monkeys and their stories? Your mileage may vary. Personally, I found them to be slightly less intriguing than the previous installment. Perhaps, it’s because I don’t get on much with the sci-fi setting, but, except for a couple, couldn’t say I was particularly engrossed. For example, there is a human pretending to be a robot in order to get a job. A great place for jokes and a commentary on modern times? Sure, but the story doesn’t really do much more than what I described, just repeating the same interview every day.
Others are slightly more interesting, like the slowly freezing Rhinoman, who has to be saved before it is too late or the live-streaming tarot reader. Still, while Monkeys 1 seemed to not really hold back in its topics of daily life and its struggles, Monkeys 2099 does not seem to take much advantage of its futuristic setting. For example, you might expect to hear some futuristic music in the apartment, but that doesn’t really happen. Sure, there’s a cyber-pigeon at one point… Graphically, Monkeys 2099 also seems to very much retread what we’ve already seen in the previous game, with a sort of retro faux MS-DOS 1994 look (should we say pixel art? NO!), but slightly more high-res and varied than in the past.
The tone is, overall, slightly lighter and less dark than in the previous game. One thing I loved about the original is how it replicated the secluded routine of someone who sat in a dingy apartment, noisy neighbors all around them, watching cameras all day. Also, working crappy jobs just to continue that deranged hobby. In this sci-fi setting, we “inherit” the club membership from an uncle who passed away, but we don’t get information on who we are or why we are accepted. Sure we might be broke, but there’s not much to latch on to with our unnamed main character.
On the positive side, one of the main complaints for the previous game, has been addressed. Precisely, having to juggle too many things at once. Welcome “relax mode”, which makes things slightly easier by making the health bar fixed. It also lowers the overall money requirements, like the rent demands. I would recommend just playing in relax mode. Save yourself the stress, juggling the cameras when the events are taking place at the same time is enough already.
One could not wish but for Monkeys 2099 to be something more than simply “more of the same”. Still, the core gameplay is solid, hard to deny the vicarious pleasure of spying on people. Along with playing with their lives, for better or worse. Also, while its futuristic setting is not particularly developed, the introduction of the relax mode might help players in enjoying more what’s on offer. Definitely recommended if you’re looking to start your cyberpeeping career.
Our Do Not Feed The Monkeys 2099 review was made possible with a key provided by the PR Xogo Consulting. The game is available on Steam and on Switch (Q3 2023).
Do Not Feed The Monkeys 2099: Do Not Feed The Monkeys 2099 is one of those "one more time" sequels, retreading the previous game but in a new, if slightly shallow, futuristic setting. Fans of the previous game will want to join the club. – Damiano