Desktop simulators are probably one of my favorite genres of games, and the fact that most of them rely on retro-UI scratches a particular itch. I’ve beaten Hypnospace Outlaw, every Emily is Away game, Orwell, and the original Do Not Feed the Monkeys. That is to say, I’m familiar with the genre, the information-gathering mechanics, and the choices that often come in these titles.
The story in DNFtM 2099 follows an 81-year jump into the future from the first title, with the player being a relative who inherited a club membership. It plays very similarly to the first game, with the new initiate needing to manage their time, personal needs, and the channels, or cages as they’re called in-game. There are some new additions, but as with the first title, the real charm comes from the characters.
On your single monitor setup in your closet apartment, you’ll take a peek into the lives of a wide variety of species and situations that are often more complex than they appear at first glance. You never know how your decisions will affect those you’re watching and it can often be life-or-death.
Sleep is for the salaried
You’ll start out with a notice that you’ve been lucky enough to inherit access to the most secret organization in the universe, the Primate Observation Club. Why they just hire anyone’s nephew is anyone’s guess, but it got left to you in your Uncle’s will, so that guy must’ve hated you. As you’ll come to find, it’s as much of a prison sentence as it is a job opportunity.
As with the first Do Not Feed the Monkeys, the game is more about the people and situations that you’re watching than the player character. As you gather information, you’ll be presented with opportunities from your employer to make some extra cash if you hand over what you know. However, you have no idea why the Club wants to know and what they plan to do with that information.
There are a variety of ways to handle each situation and I felt encouraged to go through multiple times to try and find the one I liked the best. I even started my game halfway through when I accidentally ratted out a fugitive that was on the run, but at least I got paid for it. Each situation has deeper levels of complexity that you can either choose to ignore for profit or explore in the hopes of greater profit.
Your time is money though and refusing to take an opportunity at cash in lieu of digging deeper can sometimes mean a death sentence. I often felt the pressure in these moments, with the time ticking down while I struggled to make a choice. There’s not really a choice when it comes to whether you pay your rent or eat over watching strangers though, so there are times you have to waste opportunities.
It never felt like a puzzle was unsolvable though and, if I did fail at it, I at least knew the reason why that situation ended the way it did. Choice in how you spend your time is a really popular theme in this genre and DNFtM 2099 made me regret spending my time watching one broadcast over another.
Don’t rattle the cage
As someone who fell in love with the original title, I was expecting a little more interactivity in the sequel, but it seems to largely function the same way. The cute and creepy characters are fun additions, but there doesn’t feel like there’s any new depth to the gameplay. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it’s hard to hit the bullseye twice in a row.
It’s still a fantastic game filled with more situations and characters that evolve over a much longer period, creating so much replayability and background that one could spend hours going through every channel. Fictiorama Studios genuinely deserves praise for the way that it was able to fully create a universe that is wacky and satirical enough to still very much feel like it belongs in the DNFtM universe.
In fact, that’s one of this series’ best attributes, the unique art style, and wit produced in each scene. While there is the occasional grammatical error in characters speaking normally, these are easy to overlook as the next line will usually draw a chuckle. Not everything is a joke and there are just as many dramatic moments, but comedy is less universal than tragedy, which makes it harder to write.
As stated above, I love that even in the future the main character is reliant on a basic setup that looks like an old-school security room with the screens lined up against one another. The simple search engine and articles are also fun, even if most of them do not immediately feel useful. The instant you stumble on what you’re looking for feels like you’re the smartest private investigator ever born.
All that said, I doubted this title jumping into the future going in, I thought it would make DNFtM 2099 feel less relatable than its predecessor. However, after playing I think I’d like to see Fictiorama take this genre in other new directions as well. Set a title in the 80s, set one in medieval times using regular windows, or go nuts. As long as you can maintain this level of quality style and writing, it’s a good move.
In the not-so-distant future…
The Final Word
Fictiorama Studios has managed to do it again with Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099, an addicting big brother desktop simulator where players will decide the fate of their Primates. While it might not be a perfect sequel, there’s enough evolution and interesting new content that fans or new players alike will find it plenty enjoyable.
Do Not Feed the Monkeys 2099 was reviewed on the PC. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!