There may be a drought of big release titles on the new gaming consoles, but one thing PS4 isn’t lacking is quality indie titles. A couple of these digital games release every month, and July started off hot with the release of MouseCraft from Curve Studios.
MouseCraft is a “simple” 2D puzzle game in the vein of something like Lemmings only much more enjoyable in this day and age. You’re tasked with helping three mice get past a series of obstacles to get to the cheese. To complete the level, you only need to get one mouse to the cheese.
Sounds easy right? In truth it is, but that largely depends on how good you are at puzzles and how quickly you can react assuming you forget to use the pause time feature. But just because the game is largely easy doesn’t mean that it won’t take you some time to figure out the puzzle, and things do get much harder when you try to get all three mice to the cheese while also collecting the Anima Shards.
You’re Schrödinger, a scientist cat who has spent your life’s savings on an experiment of getting mice to cheese. The mice will walk and climb up anything one block tall. If they hit a wall, they’ll turn around and walk in the opposite direction. The goal is to figure out the puzzle to get all three mice to the cheese while also collecting the Anima Shards.
To accomplish this goal, you get some different shaped blocks and a variety of them as you work your way through the game. You can rotate the blocks and put them where you want them, Tetris style. Other than falling to their death, your mice can die from drowning (they can only be in water for 10 seconds), electrocution, acidic burning, squashed by a block, blown up, or killed by a ratoid (a previous experiment where Schrödinger created mechanical mice).
As you would expect, the levels get increasingly more challenging and longer. While you can breeze through the early levels with puzzles that are easily solved in just seconds of looking at the screen, the later ones (and even some in the middle) can be a real doozy of a head-scratcher.
Not only do the stages get longer, but also more complex. You’ll need to use ratoids to open up passages instead of killing them first chance you get, put up barriers between your mice, send them on different paths, and keep a careful watch on everything. Thankfully, the game does feature unlimited redos, so if you mess up you can easily undo your most recent moves or restart if need be.
There’s also no time limit, so you can spend as much time as you want looking over the level, the obstacles, and what tools you have to work with before releasing the mice from their cage. Going ahead and figuring out the puzzle and laying the blocks you can lay down ahead of time comes in handy.
If you have mice heading in different paths, things can get a bit hectic which can easily result in a mouse getting killed and you having to restart the whole level (if you’re trying to complete it perfectly). The developers added another way to not make things so difficult for you; you have the ability to pause time. That means everything will freeze, and you can still lay blocks or blow stuff up. There are some late levels where you’ll have to use this and react quickly to move moveable blocks multiple times to get a mouse to the cheese.
I managed to 100% complete the game in four hours and 45 minutes. I’m measuring completion here in regards to the trophies, which means not just beating all 80 levels but doing so perfectly and getting the trophies for exterminating ratoids in various ways. That was with spending several minutes on some levels and restarting and undoing quite a bit, plus mopping up some trophies after completing the 80 levels.
You can definitely do it a lot faster than I did, but I reckon for most folks the game will take anywhere from four to six hours to complete perfectly, again depending on how good you are at puzzles.
Like I said, the 80 levels won’t take too many hours to complete perfectly. For trophy hunters, this is an easy 12 trophies and 100% that includes one gold trophy and three silver trophies.
There is some replay value to MouseCraft once you complete all 80 levels. The game does feature a level editor, so you can make your own level. It can be a short one, or a really long one like I teased at the end of the video above.
The interface for the editor is really easy to understand; making a level here isn’t complicated and looks to be as easy to do in theory as Mario Maker will be. Now of course there’s a difference in being able to easily make a level and making a good level.
Unfortunately, there is no way to upload your level or download other gamers’ levels. If that were possible, this game would have a ton more replay value. Some folks, like myself, just aren’t good at creating our own levels and even so it isn’t as fun to play through a level if you know the solution before you even playthrough it. Other folks would undoubtedly be amazing at creating levels, and given the size of levels that you can make, could create some incredibly challenging ones. I can see and understand why there’s no option for it (it would obviously require the levels to be uploaded to a server that would cost money), but it still would have been nice.
As is, the asking price is $14.99 and I would usually say that’s a bit much for a game that can be 100% completed in less than five hours. But, MouseCraft on PlayStation is both cross-buy and cross-save, so you’re getting the game on three different systems (PS4, PS3, and PS Vita) while only having to buy it once and it does have a level editor. For those reason, I’ll be a little more forgiving on the price relatively to the amount of time it takes to complete the content.
In my playthrough, I experienced no bugs or glitches with MouseCraft. No mice died because of something that was out of my control and all of the puzzles were able to be solved (the same can’t be said for all indie puzzle games unfortunately). It looks nice and it plays well. If you like puzzle games, you should definitely consider picking up MouseCraft as I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
If you don’t care for puzzle games, unfortunately I’ll have to say skip it since it doesn’t do anything that will draw you in and there’s no demo to try it out; watch videos (like the one up above) and see if it’s something you’d be interested in before spending $15 on it.
All in all though, I really enjoyed and think it’s quite a good game. I’ll definitely be spending more time with the level creator, and I’ll probably replay some of the levels that took me a while to complete since I don’t recall the solutions to all of the levels. An easy recommendation for fans of the genre.
MouseCraft gets a three out of five: GOOD.
* A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.