Do Not Feed The Monkeys5th November 2019
Where has this game been all my life? I started playing Do Not Feed The Monkeys on one of those late afternoons where I was just counting down until an acceptable time to go to bed. I started playing, and suddenly it was 2am. I’ve now lost count of how many playthroughs I’ve done. Do Not Feed The Monkeys is a surveillance style game – you pry into people’s lives and choose whether or not you want to interfere.
I don’t even know where to start! I love so much about it.
Super-Secret Surveillance Society
You join a secret organisation, and your task is to monitor various subjects. You start off with four monitors, and to keep your membership in this super-secret surveillance society, you have until your next evaluation to buy more. But that’s not the end to your expenses – you have to pay your rent, you have to buy food (wholesome nutritional meals or cheap take-out?), and there’s that neighbour that keeps popping over ’cause he’s always short on cash…
There are many ways to make money. The simplest way is to take on odd-jobs, you have to weigh up how much time you’re willing to spend away from your surveillance kit. Oh, did I not mention? There’s a time limit, and everything costs time. You want to pay for nutritional food? You’re going to have to go to the supermarket! …but will that boring financial advisor do something interesting while you’re away? Maybe it’s better to get that take-out?
Feed The Monkeys?
While you’re agonising whether or not to pop to the shops, while also trying to keep up with three different monkeys all doing exciting things at the same time, you’re exhausted before you know it. Oh dear, now you have to decide whether you can get some shut-eye and risk missing something, or if you’re just going to exist on coffee. After all, if you’re asleep, you might miss the confused postie who’s bringing you packages meant for other people… will you accept them and sell the contents for some quick cash?
Now the landlady is back, you give her the last of your money, but there’s so little time left before your evaluation! You have to buy more ‘cages’ (monitors) for your surveillance, or you’re out of the program! But wait… did that monkey have a dirty little secret? Maybe it’s time for some blackmail? You like that guy fighting for resident rights… but you’re short on the moolah, perhaps you should provide his address to the society and get some cash…?
To Feed or Not to Feed, that is the choice.
This game offers so many choices. I’ve still not worked out how to resolve some stories, I’ve not seen all the outcomes, and I keep getting the same ending! There is so much replayability. You won’t even encounter every monkey in each playthrough, and from screenshots I’ve seen, there are still monkeys I’ve not met. I’ve had the “kind old lady” appear ten times, but I’ve only seen the greenhouse once.
I think I’ve spent as much time agonising over how to describe Do Not Feed The Monkeys as I have actually playing it. And I’ve played the hell out of this game. There are so many elements to it, so many routes to take, so many consequences to deal with.
- Manage expenses: you have to buy cages, food, upgrades (night vision!!), and pay rent on time.
- Find occasions to make money. The society gives you opportunities for some voluntary monitoring – they want to know something about a monkey, and if you can find the information, and give it to them in time – money! There are daily odd-jobs you can take on – each with different requirements, time taken and payout. Resolving individual cages in specific ways can give you access to extra jobs.
- There are multiple ways to resolve cages. Sometimes providing information to the society will end the monitoring. Some monkeys you can help – usually at a cost, but if you can afford it at the time, there’s often a payout at the end. You can take advantage of some monkeys – they’ve got secrets, and you have the evidence.
- The mailman keeps bringing you things meant for other people. Do you take your trophies and sell them for cash? Or will you be good and tell him he’s got the wrong door? …Maybe he’ll give you a job…
- Your neighbour always has a reason to come over (usually commenting on your monkey finding its way into the news) to ask for some cash. Will you be a good neighbour? Might it affect something in the future?
- A strange couple visits you and gives you a plant to look after – if you’re naughty, it dies, if you’re a hero, it blossoms. Will that affect your choices on how to resolve your cages?
- Time management. There are only so many hours in the day. And time is money. Manage your sleep schedule, what jobs you take on and at what time, and time your shopping trips. The landlady and mailman come at specific times, you probably don’t want to miss them. Your monkeys are active at specific times too, you have to work out when it’s safe to be away from your computer.
Do Not Feed The Monkeys?
This game probably sounds incredibly stressful, so much surveillance to balance with your resource and time management. It’s not. It’s not as stressful as Papers, Please, or Not Tonight. I failed my very first playthrough because I was so worried about missing things that I just wasn’t risking being away from my flat. Then I eased up. I realised that not all cages are time-sensitive. Many of them will carry on as they are until you interfere. So you can quickly amass tonnes of cash, especially early on. There’s an element of luck, of course, if you draw several time-sensitive cages at once. Now when I start, I concentrate on all the other stuff, because my starting cages won’t go anywhere without me.
Some cages are passive. Endless monitoring of a chicken coop. Watching a shop close down. Footage of a motorway… And some cages you can’t interact with… but they can interact with you.
Throughout your surveillance journey, your cheap flat has terrible soundproofing, so you get to enjoy the eclectic music taste of your neighbours. Talking of neighbours… who’s the new guy with the suspicious earpiece?
As I said, I LOVE this game. I only have one complaint – you can’t disable tutorial messages. But let’s be honest, that’s not much of a complaint.