-Fun fusion of puzzle styles.
-Easy to pick up.
-Satisfying solutions to puzzles.
-May be too easy for some, lacking in many real head scratchers until late in the game.
-Simplistic in places.
During the winter of 2012/2013, I went to war with the mouse expeditionary force that had invaded my flat. Taking advantage of the crumbling foundations of the old terrace building I live in, they attempted to take over. Eventually I managed to fight back the mice incursion and block off their access into my territory. I tell you this as I think it’s important to be transparent with the fact that the mice and I have history. So hopefully you can trust that when I say the mice in Mousecraft are adorable and I really wanted to keep them safe, I really mean it.
Mousecraft is the new game from the wonderfully named Crunching Koalas. The idea is simple, guide mice through a level to the cheese. Because science. The gameplay is a curious mix of Tetris and Lemmings and I have been utterly charmed by this game. It’s bright and colourful, the music toe tappingly jolly and the fusion of puzzle classics works intuitively and offers some fun mazes to take on.
Right off the bat, the game made me smile by featuring a cat scientist named Schrödinger. Poor old Shrödy has a problem, he desperately wants to continue his animal experiments but he doesn’t have enough dosh to fund them and build his mouse powered pipe dream. Fortunately for him, and indeed the scientific process in general, a mysterious benefactor steps in to offer to fund the experiments in exchange for crystals the mice collect.
Each level gives you a set of obstacles to get across and a few “Tetrominos” blocks to form a path for the mice. Once let out of their mouse wheel, the mice won’t stop until they have the cheese at the end. And who could blame them? While things start very simplistic and a little too obvious with the solutions to each level, the game adds features regularly enough to keep interest up. It’s not long until you are faced with obstacles such as robot rats, exploding blocks, perilous falls or acid baths.
This leads to some unfortunately ethical quandaries. Just why is this mad scientist cat doing these experiments in the first place? What possible reason could he have had to construct mice hating robot rats, and then to put them together in the same maze? Why does he need mouse activated high explosives as part of his mouse based experimentation. In short, I’m dubious as to whether Dr Schrödinger’s experiments meet the regulations required by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
Luckily, our mysterious benefactor doesn’t appear to care about such things and is happy to allow all sorts of out of control science to go ahead. So the game is free to chuck in more tools for aiding the mice, such as a jelly block to break their fall (mice can only free fall three tiles), block busting bombs to clear the path or crumbling blocks to separate the trio of mice and put them on different paths. It all feels well balanced and thought through, creating fun puzzles that are satisfying to pass but don’t frustrate. It may lack complexity and experienced puzzle gamers may not be too challenged on most levels, but the whole experience is satisfying and presented in such an amusing way that it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the game. Some levels can feel too similar to the last and there isn't much variety in the sound effects, but it introduces new elements regularly enough that any hints of repetition are dealt with quickly.
With four sections of twenty levels each, there are plenty of puzzles to solve. On top of that there is a level creator to build your own fiendish puzzles, although there is not yet any in-game method of sharing levels with the community. User-made levels can be downloaded by getting files from people on the forums, but hopefully a more intuitive sharing system can be implemented in a future update.
I’ve been enjoying my time with Mousecraft. It’s a cute and perfectly paced puzzle game with some great ideas and adorable graphics. It’s currently part of the Indie Piñata promotion (a selection of games on discount with further discounts if you own any of the others in the selection) and offers players around 5-6 hours of charming puzzling for the main game. It’s helped me put the mouse war of 2012/13 behind me and heal old wounds. For that, I am eternally grateful. Mice, all is forgiven.
From Coffee Break Gaming