Even after losing a tough battle to a third-floor miniboss I couldn’t ditch the same thought that had been on my mind since the beginning. “This game is just… great.”
If you’re looking for something in the vein of Binding of Isaac, Enter the Gungeon, or Downwell, man, oh man have I found a new thing for you. Though I’ve only put a handful of runs into Monolith so far, I’m pretty confident in saying its early hours match the excitement that I got from any of the three games mentioned above.
Imagine if Isaac or Gungeon took even more conventions of the Bullet Hell genre to heart, and you actually played as a spaceship with upgradable weapons. It’s a perfect mix of the two, and I haven’t been this willing to jump in for one more round of a game in a while. Every death feels earned, especially with how much freedom Monolith gives you to explore, pick your own weapons, and dodge incoming fire.
As you explore the very familiar grid-like map layout, you’ll find treasures and upgrades alongside other baddies ready to shoot you down. Enemies drop cash to spend at shops, as well as the occasional extra panic bomb to clear an area around you in case things get a little too messy. Avoiding rooms and making a beeline for an exit is always an option in games like these… but rarely the optimal method.
Monolith goes a step further in how much it wants you to explore, as every boss door is gated until you’ve killed off the floor’s miniboss. These are typically more aggressive and tougher enemies and I’ve yet to fight the same one twice.
The movement of the ship and its dodging capabilities are what set this one apart from its predecessors. If the feel of controlling a ship that effortlessly glides isn’t enough, the ability to make a quick dash in any direction should be. A bullet coming too close? Right click and you’re boosted off to safety. Finding yourself in too many situations like this? Find the upgrade that turns your boost into a teleport with invincibility frames and you’re golden.
For as good as Monolith is, I’ve been seeing a shocking lack of coverage on it. The game has a pitiful 60-some reviews on Steam right now. It deserves more.
If you’re up for a new feel in a well-worn genre, check out Monolith on its Steam page here. The developer (Team D-13) has already posted a message on Steam saying that even more content is coming to the game. Get in on the ground floor before everyone else finds out how great it is.