If nothing else, Gun Monkeys has surely the year’s finest tutorial, a brisk piece of scene-setting that talks you through an amusing backstory as it walks you through its controls and mechanics. Kevin Eldon is the ideal voiceover choice, blending avuncular charm with mocking jabs at the titular simians: there’s a wonderful moment where he sounds mildly offended should you opt to skip the narrative. It’s an impish, playful setup for a cheerfully vicious one-on-one shooter.
If the title suggests a focus on ordnance, in reality it’s a surprisingly tactical affair. Your basic weapon does little damage, and it’s much quicker to drain your opponent’s energy supply by collecting glowing cubes that drop from the ceiling throughout each skirmish. Carry them back to your own power node and it’ll boost your meter while depleting your rival’s.
The procedurally generated maps keep you on your toes with a variety of spiked hazards, while smart use of power-ups can turn the tide of battle in an instant. The floaty jumping takes a little getting used to, but your monkey is fittingly agile, and perks offer even greater manoeuvrability for evasive players – or offensive power for aggressors, of course.
Matches are brisk, varied and tense, but you might face a long wait to get one. An idle mode allows you to browse the internet or check emails until a challenge arrives, but alerts are sadly infrequent. Local play is a fine substitute if you have a willing partner, but Gun Monkeys is a two-player game too often lacking a player two.
Gun Monkeys is out now on Steam.