There are lots of things I’m confident about in life, and two of these are; Space is a wonderful, mysterious entity that mankind loves, and that computer games are a relaxing pastime. You wouldn’t combine these two subjects easily, but many an excellent gaming titles have been created using space at its core. With this in mind, I looked at a new outer world experience known as Bonkies.
Developed by Studio Gauntlet and published by Crunching Koalas, this puzzle/construction title asks you to control an array of spacesuit wearing monkey. Their only aim is to solve the puzzles as quickly as possible to gain their delicious bananas. You must flit from planet to planet solving each stage, while aiming to soar off to pastures new.
The gameplay is split between two modes; a Solo campaign, and a Couch Co-op. Both follow a very similar path, and you’ll be enraged and entertained in equal measures. If you thought that getting out Monopoly at Christmas guaranteed an argument, you’ll be amazed at how quickly friendships fail, and marriages end, once you play Bonkies. (These things may not actually occur.)
It makes your blood boil!
The premise of the game is simple; start each task, scan the stage, observe the highlighted shape that needs filling, and move the blocks to ensure you fill the space correctly. If you don’t place the blocks in the highlighted area correctly, then the puzzle will not move on, and you will have to adjust the blocks to ensure 100% coverage is obtained. Sounds easy, right? Chuck into the mix that each of your monkeys move using a Jetpack, and the slightest of nudges sends the tower falling, and you know that failure is just around the corner.
Your blood will boil over into a rage induced rant as a fellow monkey undoes all your hard work. This combined with the ever ticking clock moving closer to zero, and you’re in for an uncomfortable and challenging gaming experience. This is where my understanding that this should be a relaxing pastime is completely wrong! I’ve never been so on edge while playing on my console. I’m glad that I don’t stream as the faces that this game made me pull were a combination of; weird, wonderful and scary. The noises that came out of me matched the theme as they can only be described as “not of this world”.
It sounds like hell, so why play it?
Admittedly, this is one of the toughest games that I’ve played in a long time. Not in concept, no. But in ability, patience, and luck. It’s a deceptive one as each level that you face is well explained, easy to understand, and simple on the surface. But when you combine all the horrendous elements together, you get a title that kicks your ass at every opportunity.
If flying around space hauling boxes to make specific shapes wasn’t tough enough, Studio Gauntlet went one further. Exploding boxes, glass surfaces, hovering containers, and rocket ship launchers (it’s enough to give you a headache). In a game that is about accuracy and balance, these extra ingredients to the mixture made for a really complicated dish.
Like the brutal nature of the Dark Souls franchise, Bonkies draws you in to keep on playing. It’s addictive as hell and has that just one more try feel about it. No matter how much it made me want to smash my controller to pieces, that feeling of overwhelming rage dissipated the moment I was victorious. The simple approach tricks you into believing success is just around the corner, but in reality time will wash away from you, and you’ll be found rocking in the corner of your living room begging to get to the next stage.
A game that makes you this angry shouldn’t be so cute!
No matter how angry those darn monkeys made me, (did I mention this game made me rage?) I couldn’t help but love their adorable little faces in their absurd spacesuits. The world is a colour-explosion, with some brilliantly varied backgrounds that could easily distract you if you allowed it. Several environments are seen throughout, which helps to add a variety to the gameplay, and stops it from feeling repetitive. Of course, that is as long as you can complete the stage that you will no doubt get stuck on. The simple, yet bright imagery works really well, and with no issues it sits at the higher standard for an indie title.
I really enjoyed the audio, though there wasn’t much to it. The music was only apparent when you completed a level, and it was always a welcome sound. Like a crowd at the end of a marathon who cheer you over the line, this repeated tune felt euphoric after the epic battle that I had just faced. The sound effects were as expected and to a good standard. The whooshing of the Jetpack and the crashing of the explosive crates were highlights. The audio is underwhelming, but the developers balanced it perfectly with the hectic nature of the gameplay. If there had been a constant upbeat soundtrack, I would have switched the game off.
It’s all about the accuracy!
In a game of fine measures, the control setup is vital, and luckily it has been delivered and designed well. An easy-to-understand mapping awaits, with a well designed tutorial that explains the fundamentals. The action flows smoothly, allowing you to move the grabbing arm and control the blocks through the air. You feel in control of all the action throughout, and the only time you fail is because of your own inadequacies. Practise makes perfect with this, yet I don’t feel there is enough time on earth to make anyone perfect at this.
Having spent around 10 hours of my time on this already, I know that I’m going to lose an awful lot more trying to get to the finish. It oozes replay value if you can suck up the constant dents to your pride and skill levels. It’s unbelievably tough, with an achievement list to match. I have no idea how many hours this game will take to complete, but you will have fun and angry times trying to get everything unlocked.
It should come with a free controller.
Rage, rage, rage! If you ever wanted a game to test your patience, this is it. For every copy purchased, a free controller should be offered as this is guaranteed to make you angry. If you can get through this without swearing, or clenching your fists, then you deserve a medal. A brilliantly fun game that will get under your skin and cause that awful twitchy vein thing in your forehead! With everything considered, do I recommend it? Hell yes! It made me angry, made me want to cry, and I made noises I didn’t know existed. It’s tough as hell, super addictive, and a game you simply have to put in your library. Get it now on your Xbox by buying it here! A short time discount is available so don’t miss out! Can you help the Bonkies on their path through space? Time, patience, luck, and a lot of controllers will help you get to the finish.