Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 is a futuristic sequel to the original surveillance sim that offers intriguing new narratives, engaging puzzling, and a gameplay loop that’s easy to get lost in. The title comes from Fictiorama Studios, which has been behind other unique storytelling releases like Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today, and Joystick Ventures, the publisher of games like Lost in Play. Although the blend of balancing and patience required to progress may not be for everyone, Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 is a wonderfully distinct and immersive experience.
Fictiorama Studios is no stranger to developing games that double as societal critiques – with the strategy sim The Fabulous Fear Machine about public misinformation also in the works – and Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 is no different. Just as its predecessor Do Not Feed the Monkeys, 2099 offers commentary on the surveillance of every day life, this time with some more creative liberties taken thanks to the futuristic time period. Players begin having inherited a membership in the Primate Observation Club from their uncle, starting off with four different surveillance feeds – called cages – they can watch.
DNFTM2099’s Observation Mechanics
At it’s core, Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 is all about voyeurism. Cages are displayed on the player’s monitor, which can be zoomed on individually to see things like conversations play out. Each one is completely distinct – it may be an office, an assembly line, or simply a sky-high view of a city. As players progress, they can purchase new feeds, which is mandatory in order to advance their Club level. If the required number of cages haven’t been purchased by certain dates, members will be expelled, meaning game over.
In Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099, keeping up with each cage’s happenings quickly becomes addictive. Highlighted yellow words and objects will appear in surveillance feeds that players can click on, saving them to a sort of virtual notebook; these keywords can then be looked up with search engine BeeScout, potentially leading to more highlighted threads and rabbit holes for players to go down. Searches can be done independently for player investigation or at request of the Club, which will occasionally offer a reward for answering certain questions like “what’s the name of the primate living in cage 8.”
Balancing Work, Resources, & Rent
Although not as complex as games like The Sims franchise, Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 does incorporate some life simulation elements when it comes to managing needs and resources. The game utilizes a 24-hour day cycle, and players have sleep, hunger, and health meters which will need to be replenished through buying food and making an effort to get enough hours in bed; if hunger or health get too low, the run will end with a trip to the doctor. There are also the frequent visits from the Council bureaucrats to collect the humanity tax, and failure to comply will also result in game over after a few days.
In order to earn money, players can choose from a selection of odd jobs posted by their door each day, although some pay more than others, or have certain time period or qualification requirements. Additionally, working will deplete stats, meaning the management of finances, food, and rest will need to be carefully balanced, alongside trying to stay on top of relevant feeds. Money can also be made through OMNIPAL, a digital assistant which aids in the investment in stock-like ventures that can be better predicted through keeping an eye on current events.
Replayability & Feeding The Monkeys
As the name suggests, the primary rule of the Primate Observation Club is simple: do not feed the monkeys, or interact with them whatsoever. However, just as with the first entry, things get much more interesting if one disobeys this tenant. One of the primary ways to do this is through an online marketplace where items can be purchased and sent to subjects, potentially affecting their storyline. Players can also contact primates directly, potentially offering them useful information or even showing them recorded footage of themselves for personal gain.
The way things play out within each cage can be affected significantly by the player, at least in most instances – some feeds have less to do than others. While the number of endings may not be as complex as a game like The Quarry‘s 186, the storylines for both primates and the player can vary in a myriad of ways. Due to the nature of the game loop, only a finite number of actions can be taken each playthrough, adding a large amount of replayability. The camera feeds players start with differ each time, and once beating the game tools like speeding up time can make new discoveries easier.
DNFTM2099 Is A Worthwhile Test Of Patience & Problem-Solving
At first, the balancing act of Do Not Feed The Monkeys 2099 can feel quite overwhelming. Health decays at a faster rate than in the original, much to player detriment, and managing to keep it at a viable level while also paying the Council, buying new cages, and viewing feeds at their active times is quite the challenge. However, similarly to games like Papers, Please, it’s very doable to make incremental progress each run, and the payoff that comes from things like the title’s both hilarious and thought-provoking dialogue and the payoff from either helping or hindering primates makes Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 a worthwhile experience.
Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 will release today, May 25, on Nintendo Switch and PC and Mac via Steam. Screen Rant was provided with a Steam code for the purpose of this review.