Between balancing bills, eating, sleeping, and doing everything you can to remain in your precious club, this voyeuristic game felt remarkably like a life simulator, while simultaneously highlighting just how false our sense of privacy is! But was it fun to spy on people all day?

[Review] Do Not Feed The Monkeys – Nintendo Switch

Written by Abbi Smith
  • Developer: Fictiorama Studios
  • Publisher: Alawar Premium
  • Release Date: 01/06/2020
  • Price: £11.69 / $12.99
  • Review code provided by Alawar Premium

Introducing: Do Not Feed The Monkeys Switch Review

Between balancing bills, eating, sleeping, and doing everything you can to remain in your precious club, this voyeuristic game felt remarkably like a life simulator, while simultaneously highlighting just how false our sense of privacy is! But was it fun to spy on people all day?

Go on… take a peek

Welcome to the Primate Observation Society (I see you, Illuminati-esque logo!). You now have access to observe the monkeys in your cages. To remain in the Society, there are a number of rules that must be followed. You must buy a certain number of cages within a certain amount of time. Never talk about the Society. And most importantly, do not feed the monkeys.

Each cage (an illicitly hijacked camera) will be focused on a certain location, and it’s your job to watch over the monkeys; there are cash incentives for identifying certain requested details about each cage, which will be e-mailed to you by the Society. These are sometimes easy, but sometimes hard to figure out, so keep your notebook well-stocked! 

Despite the rules, it is possible to feed the monkeys (interact with the occupants of your cages) but be careful! Law enforcement doesn’t look kindly on illicit observation, and if detected, the Society will terminate your membership. Can you resist the temptation to blackmail that peeping tom, or encourage the science geek with some sneaky crop circle photos?

Each cage has a story, and it’s your job to uncover them. I honestly found most of them rather forgettable, with only a few standing out in my mind. It’s regrettable, as they were mildly interesting, but not interesting enough to capture my attention and hold it for any longer than it took me to play the game.

Screen-ception

The game consists of doing part-time jobs to earn money, with which you can purchase food, rent, and most importantly, more cages. Your hunger and sleep levels will affect your ability to do certain jobs, and your pay will be directly affected, so keep these in mind when applying.  

Navigation of your cages is done via your in-game desktop, which also features the e-mail, chat, and shopping programs. Thankfully the D-Pad and touchscreen can be used to navigate, as the control sticks felt unwieldy and sluggish no matter how I adjusted the sensitivity.

The notebook is used to gather information about each cage, either by highlighting certain items in the environment (which may change according to the time of day) or by saving words and phrases found within the feeds or daily newspaper. These can be quick-saved to your notebook using X, a handy little trick that took me a while to figure out.

Pretty but plain

I’m not sure if there’s a proper term for the art style of Do Not Feed The Monkeys, but it’s a pixel-style aesthetic that wouldn’t be out of place in a late ’90s, early ’20s graphic novel. Between that and the purely environmental soundtrack there really is a sense of forbidden fruit hidden amongst the mundane normality – no catchy background music, no unnecessary atmospheric sound, just the clickety-clack of a computer and the thudding of closing doors. There is a certain, tense feeling that creeps into your chest when you know you’re doing something wrong, and I got that the entire time I was playing.

The game ran smoothly, with no noticeable lags or loading issues in either handheld or docked mode, but I did find playing on my TV much more comfortable than handheld due to the scaling of the various images and text. I can’t say I’m surprised I had reading issues in handheld mode; it’s a common theme with Switch games, which honestly tends to annoy me as I play on my Lite as much as possible, but it can’t really be helped.

Peeper Mode – For the amateur voyeur among us

Admission time: I’m bad at resource management. I’ve never been good at planning my time and resources in accordance with what I need to achieve, either in real life or in video games, which is why I love games like Fable where I can just mash buttons all day long. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of Peeper Mode. Peeper Mode is essentially the easy mode, where resource usage and therefore management requirement is greatly reduced. I did give non-Peeper Mode a try, and I failed spectacularly. Like, I didn’t pass the first five days failed. 

Thankfully, Peeper Mode brought the requirements down to the point that even I, with my abysmal resource management skills, could complete the game. Granted I got the most neutral ending, but it was an ending nonetheless. To be perfectly honest, the hardest thing about the game for me was actually sitting and playing it. I got bored quite quickly. Apparently, I’m not the voyeur type.

Not the club for me

It was nice seeing the different types of stories that had been put together for each cage and the amount of thought that was put into the data gathering side of the game. I really enjoyed analyzing the different scenarios and trying to work out what was going on in each. Unfortunately, I spent much more of my time just making sure I’d gotten enough money, sleep, and food to actually achieve anything. As a concept, I was very interested, but it just didn’t pan out as I expected. I can’t fault the mechanics or design of the game though; it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Pros

  • Peeper mode
  • Good atmosphere
  • Multiple endings

Cons

  • I lost interest quickly
  • Handheld scaling wasn’t great

Verdict
While Do Not Feed The Monkeys initially interested me, I got bored quickly. I can’t fault the game itself though!
4/5

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