A Space Odyssey, Monkey Style!
HIGH Diverse levels and puzzle mechanics.
LOW Too difficult to play with… anyone, actually!
WTF No remappable controls in 2021? Are you serious!?
Bonkies is the debut title from Studio Gauntlet. It’s a co-op puzzler in which players take on the role of astronaut monkeys in order to build a better future for mankind! The Bonkie Corp. is responsible for colonizing the planets in our solar system and players work as the ‘arm’ of the company by building structures on each planet or its moons.
Bonkies is a physics-based puzzler. Bonkies are equipped with jetpacks and robot arms that allow them to lift heavy objects. Players will use these tools to build structures required in each level.
Although the tasks seem simple, it is by no means repetitive or boring since each planet has its own conditions. For example, the gravity on the moon is different from the gravity on Mars, while Pluto offers floating on some high density fluid. Players will need to balance all elements under different physics conditions to complete each levels. Each new area offers enjoyable challenge and make each planet a unique experience.
The type of materials in each level are also different. There are metallic blocks, concrete blocks, glass blocks and even some blocks with special properties such as floating in air. Some are harder to lift, some will explode if not handled with care, and more — this variation is great and players must pay attention to get a build done. These different materials also offer some chances to think outside the box. For instance, a glass block can be shattered into smaller cubic parts, and I took advantage of this to use those pieces to stabilize a weak structure.
While it is possible to play solo, Bonkies is a co-op experience at its core. However, while this game is rated “E for everyone”, I strongly suggest that is not taken literally!
To explain, my wife is a casual gamer and we frequently play co-op together, but Bonkies has taken its toll. She was frustrated by its difficulty, and to be honest, I was too. The game does not provide any hints regarding structure design, and since all the puzzles are based on physics, there’s no real way to reduce the difficulty. The structures are sometimes so difficult to figure out or assemble that I even ragequit a few times. Some of the feats Bonkies expects require incredible hand-eye coordination and player cooperation — don’t play Bonkies with kids, everyone involved might burst into tears!
Another issue is that Bonkies doesn’t support remappable controls or keys, nor does it support using the mouse for the mechanical arm on a monkey’s suit. Considering the difficulty of gameplay and the extreme need for precision in movements, this lack of remappable controls really hurts the experience.
Bonkies is cute and I found its ’90s cartoon aesthetic appealing, but the unbalanced difficulty swings make it hard to enjoy alone or in co-op. It’s possible that the optimal experience is with four players and the game does support remote play as well as couch co-op, so the best idea might be to find three friends before jumping into this monkey business.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Studio Gauntlet and published by Crunching Koalas. It is currently available on Switch, PS4, XBO and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on PC. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. 6 hours were spent in Co-op mode.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and is suitable for everyone 3 and up. It’s all family-friendly except the difficulty. No warnings needed here.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game has no spoken dialogue and all communication in the game is via written text o subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered or resized. No audio cues are needed for play, this game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.