Mousecraft was the first game I ever went to see at a controlled preview event. A bunch of writers and bloggers crowded round a big TV rubbing elbows with developers and reps while they pointed out all the great features of the game. Needless to say, I left with a pretty promising impression of the game, but a nagging sense that my experience had been unfairly coloured by the whole ‘preview-eventiness’ of the affair.

However, I’m pleased to report that Mousecraft is just as excellent when played in my underwear at home.

I have some minor quibbles about it, but they mainly stem from non-essential aspects of the game as a whole… I’ll get to these in good time, but for now puzzle mechanics (you know, because it’s a puzzler and stuff.)

The puzzle mechanics are good – new ideas are introduced gradually and taught well, meaning that if ever you get stuck it’s your fault and not the game being obtuse. It might sound like a minor point, but in a game like this is really cuts down on the impotent frustration, which is the fastest way to make a puzzle No Fun At All.

Although the format of the puzzles remains the same throughout the game – guide three mice from their wheel to a button, collecting anima shards and keeping them alive along the way – there are also a huge variety of blocks to puzzle with, which keeps things interesting. These include Jelly (which stop your mice from dying from falling), Crumbling (can only be walked over twice before disintegrating) and Exploding (they explode). The later puzzles require you to separate the mice with block drops and use precise timing to kill the aggressive Ratoids (mechanical rodents who behave like your mice but will kill them if they can) and save your precious test subjects. It’s all very simply presented, which belies a huge amount of depth if you want to perfect every level.

Mousecraft’s presentation is also excellent. Visuals are clean, cartoony and colourful, providing interest without needlessly distracting you from the focus of the game. Dr. Schroedinger (he’s a cat, get it? Get it!?) responds energetically to your progress through the puzzles as he watches from outside the testing area, counting the anima shards (optional collectibles) with his fingers as you get them and celebrating when you successfully complete a level.

Whoopsy-daisy (what, were you expecting a cheese pun?)

Whoopsy-daisy (what, were you expecting a cheese pun?)

One small issue was the attempt at a story, which made little sense and felt utterly pointless. The game’s a puzzler, so why bother with any set up beyond “here’s a puzzle – solve it?” Plus, if you’re going to insist on having one, have it make some sense.

For example: the Ratoids are leftover from previous experiments… so why hasn’t the Dr. removed them? Is he blocked off from the testing area? If so how does he get the new cheese he’s buying into the tests? Also, if the tests are to create energy using mice but all they do is push a button, then why doesn’t Schroedinger just hold the button down and declare his machine a one hundred percent success.

If you’re going to put in a narrative, then you invite people to actually engage with, and question, said narrative.Ultimately, it’s a really minor gripe and doesn’t impact on the enjoyment of the game in the least, but the cutscenes certainly caused my brow to furrow in confusion.

Overall, the game lived up to everything that I had seen from the preview, proving itself to be an engaging puzzler which doesn’t bury itself in needless complication. Personally I’d recommend this on the Vita (despite having played the PC version myself) as the game seems just perfect for commutes or car journeys – in short, the ideal out and about game.

If you want to get this game you can either check out the developer’s website or the game’s Steam page.

Review: Mousecraft
Pros
  • Excellent puzzle mechanics
  • Looks lovely
Cons
  • A pointless narrative with more holes than swiss cheese (boom, cheese pun... ish)
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
8.0

About The Author

Contributor

Ben is pretty damned nerdy. If he isn't playing video games, then he's probably rolling some dice to hit goblins and thugs or designing, running and crewing a host of LARP systems. He lives in Brighton, because it's nice there. You can follow him on twitter @benrlmeredith

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