Developed by Crunching Koalas
Published by Curve Studios
Reviewed on the PS Vita, PS3 and PS4.
I can recall playing Lemmings over and over on the Amiga when I was younger and I have to say that this is the game that Mousecraft reminds me of the most. Mousecraft is a puzzle game similar in premise to the classic DMA Design games, on that note who would have thought that Lemmings would be directly related to the Grand Theft Auto series? The basic aim of Mousecraft is to guide your three mice from one side of a zone to the cheese at the other end in one piece and just like Lemmings there are falls, obstacles and a varying amount of brain power required to progress to the end.
Curve studios have been responsible for a number of games that I have really enjoyed playing, from fellow puzzle based games like Stealth Inc and Lone Survivor to more retro based shooters such as Velocity Ultra and Titan Attacks. I went into this title with high expectations from a Studio that, from my own experience, has yet to make a dud. Like the aforementioned titles- Mousecraft is a 2D based title that looks the part, this is not a genre that is ever going to push the GPU in a brand new PS4 to the max but Curve have got the look nailed down with nice smooth colours and detailed cartoony stylised areas for you to play through.
Mousecraft was originally released via Early Access on the PC and this month finds itself coming to the Playstation platforms: PS3/PS4 /PS Vita with the added bonus of cross-buy. I have to admit that I spent most of my time playing this on the Vita, the title uses the touch screen perfectly and made playing the game much easier, dragging and dropping items instead of pressing many buttons to do what is simple with the touch screen, it is perfectly suited to the Vita and I would recommend this platform as the primary platform to play this game on.
As I have mentioned the aim of this game is to get three mice to the cheese in an area or maze, you do not control the mice directly, but you do have some control over the environment they are in. You do this by dropping Tetris style blocks into the map to help your mice get their cheese and just like in Tetris, you can rotate the blocks round to find the best fit. Your mice can only jump up one block, but luckily they can fall further than they can jump. They are not invincible though and as you progress you will find many obstacles that are hazardous to the health of your little furry critters in the form of water, acid, exploding bricks and even evil robotic mice.
Whilst you will primarily spend your time dropping blocks on the map to help your mice, you will also need to destroy some that are already laying in the way. To do this you will need to use bombs, don’t worry you can’t blow up the mice! You may have these at the start of a level or you may need to get your mice to collect them as they go, this adds more than just a basic A to B route. Sometimes you have to plan many stops and changes of direction, so that you can get to the end, as you can imagine the further you progress the harder and more complex the levels become.
I have left this final aspect of the game until last, as I found it the most frustrating. As you progress, you have to collect blue shards as well as get your mice to the cheese. To progress from one area of the map to the next you have to have a certain amount of blue shards and I found this incredibly annoying, on the first area I was unaware that I had to collect most of the shards. In fairness I may have not read through the on-screen instructions with my full attention, so I was very annoyed that I had to go back through already completed levels and spend more time figuring out how to get not only my mice to the end but pick up the shards. I then realised that the shards were more important than the mice, you only need one mouse to get to the cheese so my priority of saving the mice was completely wrong and even hindered my progress.
I absolutely hate grinding through games and this is what it felt like to me, I like games to be a challenge and I know some people love to spend time collecting everything in the game to unlock trophies, but I would much rather prefer it to be optional rather than necessary, as it did put me off carrying on, as I knew I would likely have to go over certain difficult levels over and over just to pick up an extra bit of shard. This is the only downside to the gameplay in this game and if you love collecting everything then I am sure you will do in this game too.
I found Mousecraft to be an enjoyable game, shard collecting aside. With over 80 levels to play through with varying degrees of difficulty, it will challenge your problem solving skills for a good amount of time. Added to the core game is a level creator that you can use for a near infinite amount of maps to play through. Crunching Koalas have taken inspiration from two of the very best puzzle games in history in the form of Tetris and Lemmings and in doing so have released a game that is generally fun to play through and is great for fans of games that make you think.