Haven Review: Monumental

2016-02-03_00009

Monumental is an exploration puzzle game. You arrive at a research facility on an alien planet in search of the missing researchers. You follow the written logs of the crew members to find out about their disappearance. You are given a tool called the Holo Man, which acts as your HUD. You scroll through the various options with your mouse wheel. When you find the one you want you have two choices. You can either right click to activate the option. This will take a picture with the camera, or turn on the flashlight. Or you can click the mouse wheel to bring up that options menu. For instance, you can do this to get to the pictures you’ve already taken. This is one of the least intuitive UIs I’ve ever dealt with. Why these functions aren’t just bound to keys is beyond me. It’s not like the game doesn’t use the keyboard at all, but to get to your flashlight you need to scroll through the stupid menu to find it instead of just pressing “F”.2016-02-03_00008

The main tools used to complete puzzles are your log book, a camera, a flashlight, and an audio recorder. Most of the puzzles require you to find clues around the levels. To help you solve them, there are written logs hidden about. The puzzles range anywhere from interesting, to tedious. None of the puzzles are necessarily bad, but some of them take more effort than is fun. After you have solved the puzzle, inputting the answer can be a huge pain. For instance there is a puzzle where you must record a series of tones with your audio recorder and take that to a panel with sliders on it. Taking the time to match up each note from the recording to the sliders turned out to be incredibly tedious. The sliders had way more variation than was needed; to the point where two tones on the slider sounded almost identical. That, in addition to the recorder slightly distorting the sound makes the puzzle much more difficult than it needs to be. I ended up just guessing on the last few tones until it worked. The game really loves to give you random strings of numbers and have you put them into various key pads. The strings can get up to 15 digits long. This isn’t really a big problem, but it does add to the tedium of the game. Luckily there is a hint feature to help you through some of the more trying puzzles.

The main things that really make an exploration puzzle game good are the story and atmosphere. This game has neither. The story isn’t very intriguing. It’s only told through those logs. The writing it flat and vapid. The characters all come off as assholes, with nothing really connecting me to them, or making me care about what happened to them. There is just nothing interesting there. As for the atmosphere, it’s completely absent.2016-02-03_00006

The graphics are by far the worst thing about the game. Everything looks so barren. The characters’ rooms are all the same, void of any sort of personality. The whole place looks like a big empty building. There are no signs that this was used for any sort of science (save for the few computers littered about), and they all display the same screen. If you want to draw people into your game, at least make it look inviting. Monumental just looks like some walls with a few assets scattered around. It doesn’t look like an actual inhabited world. The game also has a ton of graphical problems like bits of the ground clipping through walls. Tables you can walk through, and random shit hovering in the air.2016-02-03_00005

Technically speaking, this game is an absolute mess. I encountered more than just these surface-level glitches. The game crashed to the desktop several times while playing it. When I went to change the graphics levels in the game, instead it destroyed them. All I got were flashes of colors and random outlines of things. I had to reset the game entirely to get it to work. During my play through, I ended up getting into a room that I wasn’t supposed to be in yet. I could interact with things in there, but this ended up confusing me and breaking the game. I had to go back and solve the puzzle before it would let me progress normally. The game is riddled with these bizarre bugs. In the end, this game was a Monumental disaster.monumental

Disclaimer: We received this game because we wanted to review it, and as such all views in this article our are own. No money has been exchanged for this review.


-Jordan Kamm-