Fictiorama once again puts the players in front of the screens as curious scholars of all kinds in the sequel to their 2018 success.
I can't say that I was expecting a whole lot from playing Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 because, in my case (until now), I hadn't tried either the first release or the demo of this sequel that we previewed during last year's Steam Next Fest. The first game was well-received in our editorial team due to its intriguing premise and replayability. Since then, at Gamereactor, we have been closely following every step of the sequel's development until reaching this point where the monkey writing this text must now begin observing other 'captives'.
Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 immerses you in the world of the Primate Observation Club, a secret society that, through a twist of fate, has granted you membership inherited from your late uncle. As a member, your duty is to diligently observe and investigate (never interact with - it is strictly forbidden) a wide range of individuals, whom you spy on using hidden cameras placed in their homes or workplaces. Your mission is to meticulously document certain moments in their lives, unveiling their "authentic selves" within the confines of their personal "cages" — the term we use to describe each screen controlled from our computers. Prepare yourself for countless hours spent in front of the screen, delving into the depths of their existence.
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Up until this point, the title remains the same as the original. But then, hunger and fatigue set in, and a group of sharply dressed individuals starts pounding on your door, demanding payment for a weekly debt. Yes, now the management of resources, including your own time, health, and finances, takes on a much more significant role here. You need to strike a balance between your daily observation tasks, maintaining a well-balanced diet, establishing a proper sleep cycle, and taking up small jobs to sustain your economy. The needs bars quickly begin to decline. Suddenly, monitoring the monkeys also means monitoring yourself, and this added layer of responsibility can be quite stressful, especially in the early attempts.
I've said "attempts" because, even though there is an easy mode that greatly helps with resource management, there is still a possibility of failing your mission. The key is to fully immerse yourself in the surveillance experience, engaging all your senses and focusing intently on the screen. Some cages will require you to uncover hidden details that are right in front of you, while others will involve engaging in lengthy conversations or listening to the subjects' introspective talks. In some cases, you will need to conduct investigative work by piecing together new information with terms you hear within the cages. There will be whole days where nothing significant happens, and on other occasions, you might miss an important event because the activity in a particular cage lasts only a few seconds. It can be frustrating to miss out on those moments, but it's an intentional part of the game's design cycle since it's impossible to monitor everyone simultaneously.
To make things even worse, the number of cages to monitor and the progression will increase every five days, and that requires money. If you fail to reach the designated cage goal, you get expelled from the Club, and the game ends. However, "luck" is on your side as even in the future, there are crap jobs available, offering an opportunity to earn extra income. Additionally, there are bonuses for successfully completing the Club's "Observation Studies."
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However, undoubtedly, where the true magic of DNFTM 2099 lies is in the intricate stories that surround each primate and the myriad of directions each playthrough can take, ensuring that no two experiences are alike. The game offers several unlockable endings and boldly embraces a satirical tone, effectively shedding light on various aspects of our current society. Ever wondered what it's like for a hired revolutionary streamer to take down their bosses? Prepare to encounter dedicated beer brewers, workaholic lizards, vacant starers into empty space, alien psychologists with identity crises. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. As if that weren't enough, DNFTM 2099 introduces a new tool called Omni-Pal, amplifying the possibilities for dialogue and unveiling new leads within each cage.
One potential downside is that the sequel closely resembles the original game, both in terms of its gameplay systems and the first few hours where you might not fully grasp what you should be doing or the most optimal way to do it. While the learning experience is undoubtedly part of the game's charm, it may be enough to frustrate the newbies to the point of wanting to quit the game.
I've spent the past few days completely hooked on Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099, and I think part of the reason is that, much like the game's protagonist, we all spend most of our day glued to a screen and working remotely. This meta-like experience has truly helped me dive into the game and connect with the monkeys (I know, I know, I shouldn't, but...), but it's also because the game is incredibly well-balanced, immersive, and brimming with possibilities that it's impossible not to become glued to the screen. It's a new success for Spanish developers, a sequel that enriches and expands upon the original in just the right ways, making it well worth a try.
8 / 10
An extra layer of new features over the original game. The futuristic narrative allows it to be crazier.
Too confusing at first. Some events are too short. Can't save in the middle of the game day.