Review: MouseCraft (PS4/PS3/PSV)

mousecraft-review-banner

Title: MouseCraft
Format: PlayStation Network Download (288 MB) *Cross-Buy
Release Date: July 8th, 2014
Publisher: Curve Digital Publishing
Developer: Crunching Koalas, Curve Studios
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £9.99 (UK) *This is a Cross-Buy title
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3+
MouseCraft is also available on PC, Mac and Linux. It is a Cross-Buy, Cross-Save title.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

This inventive new puzzle game blends Tetris and Lemmings together in a crazy concoction. After getting a good look at the game at Rezzed earlier this year I desperately wanted to try it. As luck would have it I got the review. So after a few good sessions I completed the game, but was it as good as I hoped? Read on to find out.

Gameplay:
You have a simple goal, guide all three mice to the cheese trying to collect all the Anima Shards scattered throughout the 80 levels. Those shards are optional and don’t make a difference to the ending but you do get a nice shiny gold trophy for collecting them all and a wondrous sense of achievement. I would suggest that any puzzle game enthusiasts go for the little blue shards, it makes the game significantly more challenging.

Even when going for the collectibles this isn’t the hardest puzzle game I’ve encountered. Thankfully none of the levels were frustrating and I was able to complete most on my first attempt. With infinite rewinds and no time limit this is a very relaxed affair. You can plan out every move and action before letting the mice go, or rewind if you make a mistake.

MouseCraft_20140702133316 MouseCraft_20140702133325 MouseCraft_20140703184541

Three blind mice, see how they.. Okay, they aren’t blind but they slowly shuffle along, walking into dangerous hazards and obstacles, only turning around when their path is blocked. These lemming like creatures can only climb one block height, and fall a maximum of three; unless it’s into water or onto a jelly piece. This is where the strategy comes into play, figuring out where and when to put your set amount of Tetrominos (Tetris blocks) is the key to success.

Various types of blocks are dished out during the story mode and each one adds to the complexity of the following levels. You begin with standard, destructible blocks and then some made out of jelly or even TNT. You have to avoid acid and electricity while not letting your mice get too close to explosions. You do this while not forgetting a mouse can only survive for up to ten seconds in water and can be squashed by falling blocks. All of this adds up to a quagmire of devilish fun as you make them traverse the little stages.

Controls across all three platforms are quick and easy to master and the game looks identical on each as well. I didn’t have a preference but did find the Vita version to chug a little when rewinding or loading a level, but nothing that caused any detriment to the game itself.  Also, the PS4 touch-pad seemed to act strangely when I was using the level editor. Apart from those points I couldn’t find any or problems or concerns.

MouseCraft_20140703184839 MouseCraft_20140703193529 MouseCraft_20140703194004

There isn’t much of a story but in four short videos it explains why these mice are making their way to the cheese. After you have finished the 80 Story Mode levels you can create your own in the Level Editor. It has a very simple layout and I quickly made, tested and saved a few levels of my very own. But, and this is a very big but, you cannot share your created levels with anyone. They don’t even get shared among your own systems when you do a Cloud Sync. This is so disappointing and could have made the game an instant classic. I quickly stopped creating levels as it became a pointless endeavour.

Visuals:
Simplicity is the name of the game here, well okay it’s MouseCraft actually, but you get what I mean. Cute clockwork mice, bright green acid and some cool inviting water; even the hazards look good. A vibrant and colorful world with Schrödinger, the crazy cat scientist literally watching over the levels during the entire game. Sadly he just follows the same set animations and doesn’t react to things happening in the play area, but it is nice that the background isn’t lifeless and dull like most other puzzle games.

You’ll be focusing on the three little mice most of the time and they look cute enough, with some nice animations when they reach a dead-end or hop off a ledge. When they eventually reach the cheese they do look very happy as they feast on the smelly cheddar.

MouseCraft_20140703194451 mousecraft-psv-screens-01

Audio:
The funky soundtrack is scored by Mikolai Stroinski, the Composer for the Dark Souls 2 Trailer and the upcoming Witcher 3. Here he takes on a very different style of game but does an excellent job. Tranquil music adds to the peaceful and relaxed flow of the game and combined with cute sound effects it makes it feel very fun and family friendly.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
It took around seven hours to complete the game, that includes collecting every Anima Shard. So it isn’t the longest game I’ve played but I did enjoy every single minute. Each level is inventive and clever with the new types of Tetrominos slowly added during the many stages help keep it feel fresh and fun. A brilliant Cross-Buy puzzle game that is only let down by one major thing, the inability to share created levels.

I’m not sure why the developers chose to not allow sharing, but this was a huge waste and this title would have been scored higher had this functionality been included.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4 and the Vita’s built in screen capture feature. Video was obtained using the SHAREfactory app on the PlayStation 4 and also edited with specialized PC software.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook
  • Helldriver Phoenix

    Does the ps3 and ps4 version have their own trophy set?