Call me a heathen, but I’ve always liked the original Quake more than the original DOOM. Heck, I even find the lore of the series as a whole to be far more interesting than that of the hellish classic.
Imagine my surprise when a Boomer Shooter appeared out of nowhere on the Switch eshop, by a company that doesn’t seem to exist (they have literally zero online presence), and models itself after the Quake games. Sign me up, baby!
A MONUMENT TO ALL YOUR SINS
If you came here looking for a storyline, you’re in for a bitter disappointment. Whilst some older shooters tried to create an excuse for the protagonist to be causing havok, Monument doesn’t even make an attempt to. Your unnamed protagonist starts off at the entrance of hell with a pistol and sets forth blasting demonic creatures that attempt to impede his progress. It’s unfortunate that the game doesn’t try to create a world of its own, but it knows it doesn’t need one. Fans of the genre are here for one thing: satisfying and fast gunplay.
For these people, the game doesn’t disappoint. Your character moves like he has a hot pepper rammed up his crack, and weapons are found thick and fast. Your starting pistol may be pathetically weak, but in moments you’ll find a double barrelled shotgun that can make short work of the demonic hordes. It doesn’t stop there though, as you’ll continually find new weapons, and they all have their uses: the rifle fires a slow, yet powerful shot, which I found to be useful against the stronger stationary demons, but this won’t be much good against the sprinting poison candle enemies that come at you in large groups – for that you’ll need something like the machine gun. All the weapons, bar the starting pistol, have their utility and are all fun to use – even if none of them are particularly revolutionary. The only weapon that stands out is the final weapon you obtain, but this is used to for area traversal rather than for combat and is restricted to only one bullet. It’s awesome to use, but it’s a shame it wasn’t tweaked slightly to give it a bit more of a purpose rather than acting as just a gimmick.
The enemy fodder are a bit of a mixed bag, but they’re definitely much better than the ones in the recently reviewed Exodemon. Some are decent enough, but others lack detail. The big chicken blob thing seems to come off the worst, which is a shame considering it’s probably the most common enemy. It doesn’t look out of place, but I think more effort could have been put into the design. Sometimes I feel like these modern homages forget just how detailed the character models in 90s shooters actually were. Regardless of looks, they’re fun to plough through with your arsenal – with the exception of the poison candles enemies. Waiting for poison gas to clear before you can proceed is a little bit of a pace-killer.
Despite minor enemy design gripes, the levels themselves are pretty well designed. There are only five in total, with the sixth being a boss stage, but the short length allows the game to move at a breakneck pace. There are constantly new weapons and enemies to encounter, and keys are usually well placed and allow you to proceed to the relevant door easily (yes, this is a find-the-key shooter). It also tends to spawn enemies along the right path to gently guide you to where you need to go. The fifth level is a little bit of an exception as it’s quite mazelike and easy to get lost in, but the others are much simpler to make your way through. All of these levels contain secrets to find which are typically well hidden but not impossible to find. The secret rewards are usually pretty underwhelming, but it’s always fun to find hidden areas!
Aside from the final ‘weapon’, another gimmick the game includes is the Donor Station. These are dotted around and can provide you with some useful ammunition – at the cost of some blood (ie, health). It’s an interesting mechanic, but my frequent weapon switching (thanks Doom Eternal) meant that I rarely had to worry about my ammo count. Perhaps on the hardest difficulty they are more vital for success. One thing to note is that these Donor Stations are quite commonplace early on, but the later levels don’t seem to have any/many. I’m not sure whether or not they gave up on the concept partway through, but it seems like an interesting concept that got wasted with some shoddy implementation – there’s ammo pretty much everywhere anyway!
One final thing to not is that the game should be praised for are the options available. For a one man development project, it contains a wide array of options to make this appeal to modern audiences. 60 FPS (with the option to change it to 30 for some reason), gyro assisted aiming, customisable controls, a wonderful FOV slider, multiple difficulties, and so on. For a small budget release, the game has a surprising amount of love poured into it.
Monument came out of nowhere and as such runs a real risk of being overlooked by many people. However, I think that fans of 90s shooters will find a lot to like here. Whilst it’s a lot cheaper on Steam, the gyro assisted aiming and portability help justify the additional few euros. Don’t expect anything revolutionary: this is still just a mindless fast paced shooter with very little innovation, but it’s a fun experience whilst it lasts.