Privacy is a big concern in the modern age. Be it for advertising or more sinister reasons, nobody likes the idea of being monitored. Despite this, there is a disturbing thrill in watching someone when they think they’re alone. This will be your task in Do not feed the monkeys, where you’ll be using hidden cameras to investigate the private lives of all manner of colourful characters.
You begin the game receiving your invite to The Primate Observation Club. This shady Illuminati esque organisation has its members watch various hidden camera feeds, and gather information about the contents. All members must buy more cages (camera feeds) to advance in level and slowly learn more about the club. The only rules in The Primate Observation Club are that of discretion, and to not interact with the subjects of your spying – do not feed the monkeys.
You’ll soon discover that there’s a vast array of interesting characters that you’ll be peeping at. From a lonely old man (who may or may not be Adolf Hitler) and his carer, to a janitor trapped in a lift and the friend he made out of a mop. Slowly learning the stories of each of your Primates is rather compelling, and eventually you may even have the chance to disobey the rules and help them. Not all feeds are created equal though, and you’ll also be subjected to some dull security footage of museum exhibits and factory equipment.
A large portion of Do not feed the monkeys takes place behind a computer monitor. You’ll receive emails from The Observation Club, DMs from friends, and use the browser to find out more about your subjects. Navigation is simple enough even with a controller, and the Switch even has touch support for even easier spying.
Flicking between surveillance cameras isn’t a new activity in video games. With games like the Sega CD’s Night Trap, and the horror phenomenon Five Nights at Freddy’s utilising this unusual style of gameplay. To ensure you spot as much of the action as possible, cameras light up when something important is going on. You can also record interesting moments, and even use night vision to see any shady goings on. If you want even more voyeurism content in your life however, you’ll need to raise the funds to afford new cages.
It’s outside of club life where you’ll need the raise cash to afford your peeping habit, as well as food and rent. Part time jobs are available to make ends meet, but balancing the time they take with rest and spying isn’t always easy. Money and health management are a huge aspect of Do not feed the monkeys, and if you eat too much junk food or don’t have the money for rent it’s all over for you.
You can also make money by fulfilling the tasks given to you by The Observation Club. You’ll regularly be asked to find out a specific detail related to one of your cages. Sometimes you’ll need to find out a name, sometimes a location. This information will often lead you to discovering new ways to interact with your primates, if you’re willing to defy the club rules for the sake of morality.
The issue with the moral quandries that the game throws your way, is that it’s rarely clear what you can do to help someone you’re spying on. You can get items delivered to their location to try and improve their life, but they can be rejected even when they seem like the perfect gift. Also, some of your cages will become empty in certain circumstances, and you’ll miss out on any potential narrative. My first video feed featured a man taking photos of a famous woman getting changed. I filmed this act and sent it to a lewd clip show for a quick buck (naturally) and the police discovered his location and arrested him. This meant that the feed to his house showed nothing for the rest of my playthrough, and I learnt nothing else about the photographer. It’s rare that these consequences will be clear, especially in my case where the show guaranteed anonymity.
Trying to help the victims of your peeping isn’t the only aspect of Do not feed the monkeys with a distinct lack of explanation. You are never really told the reason to investigate the cages if you don’t have an email to do so, and the shop to send your subjects gifts doesn’t initially show you that they deliver items to the camera feeds (I thought they’d bring perks to my character). Even earning money isn’t that clear cut, with some jobs refusing to pay out if you come to work slightly tired. Discovering how the systems work yourself does have its merits, but I do think a little more guidance wouldn’t go amiss.
Do not feed the monkeys is truly an odd game. It’s often unclear as to the best way to progress, but the selection of unusual characters to investigate means spying on the Primates is a compelling experience. Balancing healthy living, bills and voyeurism isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it to discover more about the caged animals and the shady club that wants you to monitor them.
Packed full of interesting characters to spy on
Managing money, health and sleep is a tricky but enjoyable task
Nothing feels more satisfying than discovering something new about a subject
Some of the systems could do with more of an explanation
It's never clear how to best improve the lives of the people you're watching