Review: Mousecraft

To start, I’m not going to fall into the trap that every other review of this game has made.  You know, the old “Its Lemmings meets Tetris” thing.  It’s not. It’s really not.

Sure, don’t get me wrong, the mice walk around the level like Lemmings, and the blocks you can place to help them do so are the shape of Tetris blocks but that really is where the similarities end. Comparing Mousecraft to either of those two games is like comparing Call of Duty to Operation Wolf.  You can see that there’s definite ideas borrowed from the games but neither is really an inspiration for the new product.  To me, the game has much more of the feel of something like “Contraptions” or “The Incredible Machine”. I’m not sure if that’s to do with the setting or if its the way the game is presented, but being a huge fan of these two titles this is the closest comparison I can draw.

The premise of the game itself  is that you are helping Schródinger the cat (hmm) perform numerous experiments with mice. Well. I say numerous experiments, its really the same experiment but with different obstacles to overcome as you get deeper and deeper into the game’s 80 levels.  The experiment essentially is to get the mice from their wheel to the plate of cheese somewhere else on the level by placing or destroying Tetris shaped blocks for the little critters to climb over and around whilst making sure they don’t end up dead.  Chuck in some collectible “shards” placed strategically around the level, rinse and repeat.

The game itself has a cute, cartoony style to it and some nice animation touches such as the intimidating figure of Schródinger the cat behind the safety glass watching your every move and signalling to you when you collect one of the shards.  The actual “play area” graphics are really incredibly basic, and not particularly inspiring, but they do the job and are largely uncluttered.  Gameplay wise, the game does well on easing you into the concepts and giving you real time tutorials on new features and new obstacles you will encounter and there is a pretty comprehensive level editor too although (at the time of writing) there’s no way to share these levels with anyone which is a real missed opportunity.

mousecraft_screen2 (1)

In terms of enjoyment and playing the game its a nice little distraction from some of the more frantic hard core games out there and in some ways it deserves plaudits for trying to offer something different, an alternative to the blood, guts and gore of most AAA games on the market at the moment.  The only problem is that personally I found the game to be a bit of a snooze fest.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled with all the bullets, guns and general gut wrenching (literally) action in most console games and therefore something as sedate as this just doesn’t seem to hold my attention for any great length of time.  Despite the fact that the game has its graphical moments the audio is a bit of a let down too. No voice acting, OK-ish music and sound effects and very average feeling presentation really remind me of old Amiga games. It really does have that 16 bit feel to it.  Of course, that might be right up your street, and if so you are well catered for here.

The game also feels WAY too forgiving at times.  For example, occasionally you need to time your block drops to coincide with the mice being at a certain point on the level, so the game offers you a “freeze time” option.  I personally would have preferred that you need to use a bit of skill at timing to get these blocks in place whilst the mice are running around below you, therefore making the game a little more frantic in the process.  Also, with unlimited “Redos” meaning that if you mess up you can just reset the level, there’s no penalty for death or getting things wrong. I dunno, maybe I am becoming a bit of a gaming sadist in my old age!

On the positive side of things, its a cross buy title, so you get all 3 versions for 1 purchase price, and I can imagine this being a good title to play on the Vita, although I personally haven’t tried it on the Vita.

On reviewing my… erm… review, I notice that I’m coming across like I’m bashing this game a lot. That’s not really my intention, I’m just struggling to see who the game is aimed at and how much fun people who make the purchase will actually have.  If puzzle games are your thing then I’m sure there is value to be had here, but if you are looking for something  to be consistently challenging and offering twists and turns then I think you’ll be disappointed. Everyone else, knock yourself out. I’m sure you will think its mousevellous (sorry about that).

Reviewed on PS4

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