Death of the Critic

Monolith - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


Roguelikes are a genre that we’ve written about many times before, and will no doubt continue to revisit for a long time coming. In some ways, it is the perfect genre for an independent game, as it has an inherent sense of replayability to it that other genres lack. Level design is still important, but by allowing the gamer to slot remade rooms together at random instead of having to design each level by hand makes for a significantly easier creation process. And players are far more forgiving of repeated assets and gameplay in roguelikes than they are in a first person shooter or adventure game.

Monolith takes lessons from its predecessors (The Binding of Isaac) to blend the room-by-room, top-down roguelike gameplay with "bullet hell-esque" boss fights, and the marriage is a remarkably happy one. Your little ship can flit and soar across each room, dodging shots and tearing apart your enemies. You feel capable, partly because it isn’t a particularly difficult game, with a high baseline of health that lets you tank way more shots than most roguelikes do out of the gate, and it’s relatively easy to restore your health pool, or even expand it later on in the dungeon.


This has the rather convenient side effect of making each attempt at the game feel very successful. I don’t know if I ever died in one of the first two “floors” of the game, and as soon as I did die, I wanted to jump right back in because I felt like the end was always in sight, and it usually was. If I had just dogged a bit better, or was more careful in my usage of bombs or ammo, I could have easily gotten to and beaten the final boss.

You start the game with a few bombs and a rather weak default weapon, like you do in most top-down shooters of this style. Each bomb lets you briefly clear the screen of all projectiles, and as you progreess, you can find much more powerful weapons, albeit with limited ammunition. Laser beams, exploding fireballs, giant swords; each with the possibility of multiple modifiers that change the way they feel and play> They might split apart into more projectiles, or home in on targets, or pass through cover to hit enemies behind them, and choosing the proper weapon when you have the chance is a large part of the rather limited strategy of the game.


You can quickly go from being weak and vulnerable to being a nigh-unstoppable killing machine as your health is chipped away by flamethrowing tanks, ice worms, and giant evil skulls. There is always something around the corner, but if you keep your wits about you and your guard up, you’re going to be relatively safe.
Of course, there is an inherent downside to his. Once you’ve beaten the game once or twice, it quickly starts to lose its appeal. It isn’t a hard game by any means, and lacks the appeal of some of its harder bretheren. I keep playing games because I want to complete them, and rarely, if ever, do I just keep playing a game because I can. I simply don’t have the time anymore, and having beaten Monolilth more than a few times, it’s definitely lost it’s edge for me.

But in the grand scheme of things, this is hardly a negative. The game doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, and it is easy to see how with more complexity the game could be expanded down the line. For now it is simple, and fun. And sometimes that is all you need.


Review written for the Windows version of the game

The title was purchased by us for the purposes of review

Our review code can be found here for information on how we write and score our reviews. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns, please contact us at



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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Images courtesy of Team D-13

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