We had gotten past the laser security systems, knocked out the pair of guards in the control room, and blown open the vault doors all miraculously without being seen. The rest of the team and I hoovered up all the money in the vault, and now it was time to get out. My partner started to dig our way back to the getaway car, when we burst out of a wall and into a hallway—one absolutely full of guards. Time for a chase scene!

If Ocean’s Eleven was shrunken down, pixelated, and splashed with the colors of a Saturday-morning cartoon, it would probably look a good bit like Monaco. You and your partners play as members of a cast of enterprising criminals, each of whom possesses a special ability. The Lookout can keep track of enemies even if they’re behind walls. The Locksmith, predictably, opens locks faster than anyone else. The Mole speaks only in third-person and can dig through walls with his “freedom spoon.” They’ve all just broken out of jail, and are all looking for sanctuary, allies, and some sweet, sweet cash.

Your goal is to pull off a series of increasingly elaborate heists to acquire all these things. This requires both a plan and some serious improvisational talent for when that plan inevitably goes awry. There are security systems to be disabled, guards to be avoided, and safes that need opening. In addition to each team member’s special abilities, everyone can open doors, pick up weapons and disguises, and jump behind potted plants in a pinch.

The real joy in Monaco comes from the tension between the order of a well-executed plan and the chaos of a madcap dash for escape. Thankfully you’ll get the chance to experience both in Monaco, often in the same level. The music plays up this divide. While you’re still undetected, the ever-present piano in the background is slick, smooth, and Pink Panther-like. The moment the alarm is raised, that invisible pianist begins wailing on the keys, giving you a jangling slapstick anthem to panic along to.

Counting down before ambushing two guards simultaneously; rescuing a cornered heist-mate by digging them an escape tunnel; even picking a solid combination of crime-doers in the pre-mission screen (the Lookout and the Mole, for example, were our echo-location dream-team when playing through the game): These are just a few of the many excellent moments you can share with your family in Monaco.

This article was written by

Roy Graham is a writer, boxer and live action roleplayer based in Brooklyn. He’s interested in emergent narrative, monster love stories and wizardry