Jun 26, 2020
  • Release Date (NA): June 1, 2020
  • Release Date (EU): June 1, 2020
  • Publisher: Alawar Premium
  • Developer: Fictiorama Studios
  • Genres: Strategy, Puzzle
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • Also For: Computer
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
No monkeys were harmed in the making of this game. More so given that there’s no monkeys to speak of in Do Not Feed The Monkeys. Rather, it is a point-and-click game about surveillance and managing your daily life, while trying to comply with your underground club’s rules to not interfere with the livelihood of the people you’ve been instructed to stalk. So what’s all this monkey talk about?
Prans Dunn

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Welcome to “The Primate Observation Club”. As the newest member of this secretive club, you are tasked to observe “caged monkeys”. Of note, you are explicitly prohibited to “feed” said monkeys. These are, of course, lingo exclusive to “The Primate Observation Club”. The “monkeys” are unsuspecting people whose livelihood you are tasked to surveil through surveillance cameras and compromised webcams, termed as “cages”. “Feeding” refers to the act of interfering with those people in any way. In case you missed it, feeding is prohibited. Are you up to the task?

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However, it’s not as straightforward as that. In order to stay in and advance within the club and learn its highly coveted secret, you will need to meet a quota of “cages”, or cameras, within a set number of days. To get access to more cameras, you will have to buy them with money that you will have to earn. You can enroll in part-time jobs such as dishwashing or guarding but these take time and energy. Indeed, you will have to manage your food intake and sleep time. Sleeping helps you function but takes time which could otherwise be used to gain money, while food costs money but is as essential as you might think. Add to that the need to pay your rent, deciding whether to sell a wrongly delivered package or return it and handling parasitic neighbors, you’ll soon be juggling more than deciding on which unsolicited livestream to watch.

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Moreover, through these livestreams, you will learn intimate details about the subjects; a perverted driver sneaking in an attic to take naked pictures of celebrities; a pensioner who hints at being a notorious fascist; a banker trying to break out as a crossdressing singer. To these revelations and more, will you be immune to what you learn? Or will you help the subjects, expose them or ruin their dreams in exchange for cash?

Indeed, you will often receive emails from the club that asks specific details about individual subjects being stalked (phone number, address, name, and the likes) and reward you with cash. Simply observing them will not reveal everything. You can try using your browser to search for key terms but the clock is ticking and search results might not connect all the dots. Hence the option to interact with the subjects becomes increasingly attractive as a means to obtain the required information. You can expose them by leaking videos to tabloid media or even call and question individuals if you find their phone number.

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Do Not Feed The Monkeys offers an interesting, satirical take on the surveillance genre in video games. Observing the colorful and diverse characters easily piques the player’s interest into wanting to learn more about them and try to expose them for their wrongdoings. And there’s also the “what if” component to it as in letting them be and see how their arc evolves. However, this felt disappointing as each subject’s in-game day loops until you gather all required information to perform a web search or connect the dots in your journal. Fortunately, there’s quite a healthy cast to satisfy your voyeuristic needs and you won’t have to stick with a few characters.

Its point-and-click gameplay works well on the Switch, especially with the touchscreen support that makes for more intuitive controls. You can search the room you surveil, pick up key words from conversations, perform web queries and go grocery shopping with your fingertips. There's also the puzzle aspect where you have to collect enough information in your journal to figure out who's who in order to progress with side tasks.

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Mixing mundane activities like the need to earn cash, paying rent, ordering food and dealing with neighbors adds a welcome contrast to one’s real-life activities. Nevertheless, these actions feel overly repetitive, yet mandatory, in the long run. Didn’t get enough sleep? You’ll perform poorly for this side job and get paid less or not at all. Want to drink coffee to cut the need for sleep? Your life gauge will go down and you’ll need to buy and consume healthy fruits to make up for this. The latter can be costly and with your rent due and the club’s quota to be met, things easily get hectic.

At times it feels like there’s so much to handle that you can’t really focus on the most interesting part of the game: the quirky, attention-catching lives of the people under surveillance. In this way, Do Not Feed The Monkeys unfortunately cannibalises its own highlight. Properly managing your income, life stats and work is arguably the game’s main challenge and what it wants you to excel at. Unfortunately, by trying this satirical approach to include real life mundaneness with a peculiar job felt more like work than a game; emulating the chore with less fun. For better or worse, the 4-5 hours required to beat the game means that you won't have to stick with these repetitive actions for too long either but these aspects might be offputting for another playthrough.

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Nevertheless, Do Not Feed The Monkeys is worth checking out if you are looking for an indie title that is decidedly different. Even if it was originally released 2 years on Steam, the Switch version holds up well in 2020. However, it’s best played slowly so that you don’t get consumed by its repetitive tasks that undercuts the more enticing aspects.

Do Not Feed the Monkeys - Switch Trailer

Verdict
What We Liked . . . Interesting characters Satirical world depiction Intuitive touch controls on Switch What We Didn't Like . . . Mundane mechanic to manage health stats Rather short Character plots on loop
8 Presentation
Do Not Feed The Monkeys offers a nice parallel to our real world depicted satirically with news, uninvited guests and routine tasks, with the complementary audio to set the mood.
6 Gameplay
While the point-and-click mechanic plays great on the Switch’s touchscreen, the repetitive actions get stale fast and impedes you from devoting more time to the actually interesting aspects.
6 Lasting Appeal
Despite being a short game, the numerous characters being unknowingly surveilled genuinely trigger intrigue during their screen time but some repetitive gameplay aspects hinder indulging in it or even going through another playthrough.
6.8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Offering a short but unique premise, Do Not Feed The Monkeys grabs the player’s attention but botches it with conflicting mechanics that replicates too much with the mundane tasks it aims to satirise.
Stealphie and CactusMan like this.

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  • Prans
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