I love a good heist, and I wish more video games let me pull one off. Sure, Grand Theft Auto: Online lets you plot them if you have enough friends, there’s also Payday 2, and if you squint a little bit and don’t mind all the murder, Hitman is technically a heist game, sure. We could use more, though – specifically, more heist games that feel like a party game. The Mario Kart of heist games. Games like Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine.
I love Monaco’s full title, the way it glibly asserts that yes, this is a video game about smug thievin’. A top-down stealth game that only kind of cares about stealth, Monaco is a playground for doing whatever it takes to grab some cash and get away clean. Choosing one of four character classes (with more to unlock as you play), you play either solo, with friends locally, or online. Each class has their own unique perk. The Locksmith can pick locks twice as fast, The Lookout can see enemies without having them in his line of sight, The Cleaner can knock out unaware guards, and so on.
Playing the game is extremely simple – you use the left thumbstick to move, the other to aim whatever item you may have, and the R2 button to use that item. That’s it! Interacting with objects – hacking security systems, picking locks, looting vaults – is all done by just tilting your thumbstick in the direction of the object of interest while a timer ticks down. It’s an incredibly simple game for something as complicated as heists.
While you have a general sense of every map’s layout, you don’t know what’s actually in a room unless it’s in your line of sight, which both allows for some great tension and also effectively shows off the game’s art style. Levels are mostly greyed out in areas you can’t see, but your characters’ sightlines are illuminated in cones of vibrant colour, as your little dudes and the guards trying to stop them wobble around the map as little blobby pixel-people.
Monaco is clearly meant to be played with friends, which I am eager to do now that the game is live on the Nintendo eShop and my Switch-having friends can now join me. I slept on Monaco when it came out on PC and Xbox 360 in 2013, and so I’m looking forward to having a whole mess of people coming to this game for the first time to have a blast together.
It ain’t bad solo, either – there’s a light story to play through, which is spare but witty and playful, and supports drop-in, drop-out co-op. The Switch version also comes with all the DLC that developer Pocketwatch Games released for the previous versions, which includes new levels and a Zombie mode. I haven’t yet toyed with it, but taken in conjunction with the PvP modes, there’s a generous amount of game here, and it all holds up extremely well, despite being six years old, nearly an entire console generation ago.
Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine has a manic energy that makes it feel like a really good board game where everyone can take their turn at the same time as they all scramble to win. In other words, it’s a game for low-down, dirty crooks. A whole party full of them, even.