I honestly didn’t even know what to expect with Do Not Feed the Monkeys, especially since I found it for the Switch. My first thought was that it was a children’s game of some sort, and – you know – the monkey is like my spirit animal, so I figured, why not? As it turns out, Do Not Feed the Monkeys is not a children’s game. In fact, it takes puzzle games in a thematic and mechanical direction I never could have anticipated with voyeurism as the central theme. But is it good? Will it pick the fleas of boredom off the back of your hairy mind (just run with the metaphor)? Find out below – this is our Do Not Feed the Monkeys review!
The first thing I noticed is that Do Not Feed the Monkeys is an adorably pixelated game. It is clearly reminiscent of the grand days of MSDOS in its aesthetic, but the audio is enjoyable and thematic, too. Each character is clearly designed in a unique and recognizable fashion, and the developers clearly have a sense of humor, as jokes and Easter eggs are well crafted in the landscape of computer monitors that comprises most of your screen time.
A special note – the game is about voyeurism, indicating that adult and sexual themes are broached. From what I could see, one scene in particular, which seems to be uncensored on the PC, looked censored on the Switch, but I stress this is not a game for the little ones. While we’re on the subject of being on the Switch, the control scheme appeared to work, but at times I felt that cursor movement was likely slower than it would be with a keyboard and mouse. Although this isn’t a twitch style game, I think the mouse would have provided much greater speed and precision when trying to select things that were only on the screen for a few seconds.
And tempted you will be, once you start to watch the lives of the monkeys. You’ll come across a variety of characters, each interesting in their own right, and each character will reveal intimate details of their lives as days progress. Dialogue is presented as text, with keywords in yellow. Selecting keywords as they appear places them in your handy-dandy notebook, which allows you to put clues together in ways that allow you to contact, blackmail, indirectly interact with, or otherwise mess with the monkeys. Because you want to press the shiny, red button. Blessedly, activity in the cages tends to repeat after so many days, so if you miss a keyword, it’s not generally gone forever. There are some exceptions, such that not acting will ‘close the cage’ or end the feed, but from those cages I experienced, they were few and far between.
Just sitting and watching the monitors, switching back and forth, seems easy enough, but no… you still need to work, pay rent, eat, sleep, and interact with neighbors. Most of this is a matter of simply selecting which job you’ll want to do, which food you want, or which dialogue option you want. Most activities, however, require you to spend precious moments away from your cages. Three jobs appear daily and appear to be random. Not only that, but some jobs can only be completed at specific times of the day. Suddenly earning money to pay rent requires sacrificing the possibility of essential information that might only appear at certain times of the day. Unless, of course, you feed the monkeys.
Therein lies the rub. Interacting with the monkeys could yield collectibles, money, and almost certain consequences. Consequences range from you getting arrested (in game, of course) to the monkey meeting an untimely fate. That said, the mysterious organization backing your cameras will occasionally send paid requests for information that you’ll be able to puzzle out through taking notes and using the in-game browser. Selecting keywords in your journal is the only way to search, but finding the information you’ll need may require real digging or even making contact directly or indirectly with the monkeys.
For me, the challenge in Do Not Feed the Monkeys mostly lies in the resource management side of things. I love puzzle games, and I’m even good at some of them. The puzzles in this particular game weren’t that difficult but having to juggle going to work and buying groceries with spending time in front of the monitor was stressful. In fact, that’s probably my greatest problem with Do Not Feed the Monkeys, and I can’t even say it’s a generally poor choice, but rather a reflection of my personal tastes in gaming. Despite not liking the feeling of being pressured to purchase new camera feeds and enough food to survive (not to mention sleep), the system does work well. The game is, in fact, beatable and there is a definite end with multiple endings depending on your actions.
I enjoyed Do Not Feed the Monkeys. Its charming visuals and clever puzzles kept me engaged. I loved the premise and found it quite thought-provoking. Generally, if I find I’m thinking about a game when not playing it, it’s done something right, and I found myself wondering about the game, its world, puzzles, and people. Who is this game for? I would wager that grownups who love puzzles and resource management games will likely get the best bang for their buck. If you like action or don’t like to juggle too many things at once, this might not do it for you.
A game key was provided for this review.