Typically, I am not a man of favourites; so please, understand the significance when I tell you that this game was the single most awe inspiring item I played back at the EuroGamer Expo. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, I am going to tell you of Incus Games’ Three Monkeys.
Of the many senses that we posses, do you not believe it odd that the only sense we truly depend on with games is sight? Granted, we often use our sense of sound, but much of the time the sound isn’t truly required to play the game to it’s full. The occasional exception being games where you often find yourself stopping and listening for nearby enemies, in an attempt to gather a sense of direction.
This is useful, no denying, yet you’re probably not using it all of the time. Only when you’re trundling through a forest or a building do your ears perk, and that bad feeling creeps in that makes you ask yourself: Is something about to happen? The rest of the time, the sound and the music in games is more of an accompaniment- it’s there and helps to immerse you, while your other senses are doing the work. We could even go as far as to say that in a well written game, you likely wouldn’t even notice the difference if there was no music to it. After all, you’d be too immersed in the story or events to pat attention to anything else.
Three Monkeys is rather like that – but backwards.
“Be careful of the visuals; there aren’t any.”
Incus Games have made the curious decision to show still images on the screen. Images that certainly fall into the department of “not visuals.” At most, all we see of this world, is hazy artwork that reflects the rough location and time of day. Whether this is purely because people simply need something on the screen while they play, or to contrast the idea of inverting our sensual dependencies, I don’t know. To be quite frank, I don’t really want to know. I’m told that while playing many people closed their eyes and I can understand why. When I sat down and found myself plunged into an entirely different world, those minor changes on the screen were nothing but a distraction, grabbing my attention as I stared, unfocused, at the wall in front of me.
These wonderful people have so finely crafted a story and atmosphere, that the monitor is an entirely redundant item. Perhaps, with the idea that most players will play this with their eyes closed, gamepad support would fit nicely, with the controls being as simple as directional movement and a few action keys. After all, I can imagine myself closing my eyes, getting immersed, them somehow losing my place on the keyboard and pressing the wrong keys. I can just imagine that darn pixie yelling at me as if I was a fool for pressing the wrong keys.
Technically, Yoska is a foul-mouthed little sprite. Literally. A little person that sits on your shoulder and flies around your head giving you help; and no, not the kind of “help” that Navi gives you. I’m talking about real help, such as “there’s something nearby,” or “a little to the left,” or “what the bloody hell are you doing?!”
Yoska’s energy and charisma serve to both encourage and entertain, contributing to a serious sense of comfort and empowerment. Imagine that, a game where you’re blind, yet don’t feel weak and dis-empowered because of it. That idea in itself should be this a game to be excited about.