Finding the beauty of gray in ‘Monochroma’s’ black & white world

Monochroma concept art

Nowhere Studios doesn’t shy away from comparisons that put its in-progress Monochroma in the same league as Playdead’s puzzle-platformer Limbo. Both games share similar black & white visual aesthetics and genre foundations, but there are key differences. Monochroma‘s world is grounded in a surreal representation of present-day industry, as compared Limbo‘s dreamlike forest, and the black & white environments are highlighted by frequent splashes of red. More importantly, the small team at Nowhere Studios wraps a good deal of the puzzle play around the concept of literally carrying a younger sibling through the game’s frequently unforgiving world.

There’s a strong foundation that’s been built here. The Limbo-like aesthetics and gameplay dovetail well with the mechanical twists connected to guiding your sibling – effectively an immovable object that must be carried and can only be left alone in specific locations – from place to place. At least in terms of the bit that we got to try out in the game’s GDC Play appearance last week. Roughly one quarter of the game is finished at this point, and Nowhere’s presence at the conference was largely motivated by the desire to find funding and get the game finished. The small team of Turkish developers is currently looking at PlayStation 4 and PC/Mac/Linux as potential homes.

Monochroma‘s wordless story is relayed entirely through onscreen imagery. The game opens in the center a small farming village, with your youthful protagonist being beckoned to follow his kite-carrying younger sister into the nearby cornfields. After some very basic traversal obstacles introduce the core elements of movement, climbing, and jumping, the game begins in earnest when the kite flutters off and your sister falls through the roof of a barn. It’s up to you from here to carry her ever-forward, always bearing in mind that fact that you are considerably less mobile when little sis is riding piggyback.

Monochroma‘s puzzles start out simply enough. You’ll push and pull crates, create platforms that lead to out-of-reach locations, swing on chains to launch yourself across gaps… nothing unfamiliar. The story’s core conflict is set into motion early on when the siblings find themselves in a factory of some kind, filled with unusual machinery and liquid-filled tubes occupied by what appears to be children. A hulking brute of a factory worker spots the intruders and a chase that begins, one that presumably reverberates through the rest of the game.

The puzzles quickly ramp up too, with solutions that require a bit more outside-the-box thinking, yet still remain grounded in logic. You might, to cite an easier example, need to drag a flaming oil  barrel into the pouring rain outside in order to snuff out the fire and use it as a platform. Careful timing is frequently required as well. At one point you’ve got to ride a log down into a massive wood chipper, jumping off at the last possible moment in order to reach an otherwise inaccessible platform. The actual controls are still being polished, but they work well enough even now. It helps that punishments for failure in Monochroma are limited; you’re simply set back to the most recent checkpoint, which is no further back than the start of your most recent puzzle.

Again, it’s the presentation that really wins here, at least in terms of catching the attention of an audience. Monochroma‘s puzzles bring the goods too, but it’s the look and the feel of the game that will immediately catch your eye. GDC Play participants don’t always make a huge splash, but you can bet that we’ll be hearing more from Nowhere Studios soon on this one. For now, you can at least get a sense of what to expect from the trailer.


New ‘Stardew Valley’ content on the way, as game’s maker freezes next project

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone said that he will continue working on new content for the indie farming simulator. The developer previously said that he will devote all his time to his next game, but that has been placed on hold for now.
Home Theater

What is Terrarium TV? Here’s everything you need to know

Terrarium TV offered a way to watch movies & TV for free, but now after a troubled existence, the app's developer has shut it down, and offered an ominous message to users on his way out.

Skateboarding legend says ‘Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam’ will appeal to his fans

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam is now available for free on iOS and Android devices, and Digital Trends had the chance to talk to the legendary skater about its development and how it captures the magic of his best games.
Smart Home

Alexa’s latest skill helps patients manage high blood pressure

People who need some help managing their high blood pressure are getting some help via a new Alexa skill developed in partnership with Omron Healthcare that will work directly with the manufacturer's monitors.

Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Steam streaming hub with Valve’s Steam Link app

Valve's Steam Link app is now fully supported by Raspberry PI hardware, meaning that just about anyone with a few dollars to spare can build their own Steam streaming box in a matter of minutes.

Nintendo pulls the plug on making more SNES Classic, NES Classic systems

Nintendo extended production of the NES Classic and SNES Classic into 2018, but once the current supply of consoles is gone, the company won't be making more. Instead, you'll have to use Nintendo Switch Online.

Fancy ‘Kingdom Hearts III’ PlayStation 4 Pro launches alongside game in January

A limited edition PlayStation 4 Pro bundle for Kingdom Hearts III will launch alongside the game in January. The system included has a special design on the side, as does the controller.

Want to share your Xbox One games? Here's how to do it

Sharing games on modern consoles is possible, but it takes a few steps. Here's how to start sharing games on your Xbox One console, so friends and family can easily access your library.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

‘Fortnite’ removes the Infinity Blade weapon after player backlash

Following player backlash over the Infinity Blade weapon's inclusion in Fortnite's battle royale mode, Epic Games decided to remove the weapon from the game completely. It was not limited to a special mode.

Want every suit in 'Marvel's Spider-Man' for PS4? Here's how to get them all

Marvel's Spider-Man features a whopping 33 different suits for Peter Parker to wear as he swings across New York City knocking out baddies. Here are all the suits and how to unlock them.

Everything about 'Red Dead Online', including its new microtransaction store

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.