Monumental is an incredibly challenging first-person puzzle adventure set on an alien world.
Monumental on PC
Since the days of Myst, the first-person puzzle game has come a long way. My latest adventure in the genre, Monumental, certainly owes a lot to that old title. Though the graphics may be pretty modern, the gameplay and challenge are rooted in an era of gaming that was more demanding. With remarkably tricky puzzles, some thinking out of the box is going to be required for players to gain any ground on this strange alien world.
Monumental takes place within a research facility established on a distant, alien world. Having lost contact with the base, you’ve been sent out to investigate what happened to the team of scientists and their research into a strange alien temple. Right out of the gate, players will be faced with challenging puzzles that come in a variety of forms, requiring serious thinking power and problem-solving skills.
I won’t bother lying – even the earliest puzzles in Monumental had me scratching my head for quite some time. Players are given a pretty good set of tools to approach each problem, but sorting out the solutions is still very, very tough. Armed only with a “holo man” equipped with a flashlight, camera, audio recorder, and data log reader, Monumental expects players to find the right approach to each new obstacle with their own wits.
Monumental begins in the hangar area of the Mandrake Research Facility, and right away, players will be faced with a code-locked door. While the solution to this first puzzle is simply lying on the floor nearby, it’s not long before things ramp up. Puzzles making use of color, math, and music await just within the first few chambers. This trend continues as players delve deeper into the mysteries.
Unfortunately, while Monumental’s puzzles are truly difficult in their own right, they’re also plagued by some strange coding woes. I felt like I was going mad with one of the facility doors, only to find that exiting and restarting the game and trying the same solution I’d entered previously allowed me to pass. Lengthy load times between areas were another concern, with one transition spinning mindlessly on a loading screen for well over five minutes before moving on.
The difficulty of Monumental’s puzzles certainly feels like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I found myself growing frustrated with a number of the challenges presented. On the other, though, there was a definite sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that came with each new victory. It’s probably worth noting that my time being frustrated easily outweighed the moments of success, and that many of the solutions were about as far from intuitive as could be.
I’ll be frank – Monumental is not, by any stretch, a game for everyone. Even seasoned first-person puzzle veterans will likely find the difficulty of its hurdles to be overwhelming at times, and the provided clues that are meant to guide players to discovering the answers are often obscure. Players can ask for a hint at any time, but only for one puzzle at any given time, and even these are not always particularly meaningful if you’re truly feeling stuck.
Adding to Monumental’s technical troubles, I experienced some remarkably negative side effects when playing with the game’s options. Certain video resolutions rendered the game completely unplayable, both by drastically affecting the frame rate and by scrambling the entire display to unrecognizable noise. Between this, the weird puzzle glitch, and the extreme load times, there are clearly some underlying issues to address before I’d say the game is working as intended.
All in all, Monumental isn’t necessarily a bad game. I’m not about to mark it down for the intense difficulty of its puzzles, though this may be an issue for many gamers in itself. While the story behind the Mandrake Facility staff’s disappearance is engaging enough, the slow pace and technical issues make it a disjointed one to follow. Those with the patience to sift through these problems may find the game worth its $9.99 price on Steam, but this one’s a pretty easy one to pass up unless you’re a serious devotee of the genre.