Mousecraft Review (PSN – PS4, PS3, PSVita Cross buy) - By Neil Kenny I pondered for a while how to describe this title.
I mean OK; it’s a puzzle game that’s a bit like Krusty’s Fun House from the early ‘90s in that you have to formulate a route for the captive rodents. However in this instance it is for their salvation and they’re mice, not rats but it’s still blocks and furry quadrupeds with tails nonetheless. But that to be truthful isn’t the whole story and in any case it isn’t a quite like that anyway. In fact this game reminds you of a lot of titles and none at the same time.
So back to the description; the mice have rules that determine their movement and you’re supplied with Tetris like pieces in order to modify the environment. Over time other pieces are added to the available stockpile bringing new properties and hence opening up other strategic opportunities.
The objective is to get the mice from the start to the goal. Just the one of the group is sufficient in order to complete the task. The mice themselves are not indestructible which you have to bear in mind. They can climb the height of one block but a fall greater than 3 blocks will prove fatal and nearly everything else on the level is there to kill or trap them.
As you complete successive rounds your progress is marked on the map (actually depicted as a blueprint) and not only have you got to save the mice but certain thresholds require you to have collected a number of shards (crystals) along the way. These crystal trinkets serve as a way to make you replay the levels and improve one’s results. Sometimes the act of finishing a level is straightforward but to complete it properly you have to really think ahead. Remember that you only have the pieces supplied in the quantities stated. You also have bombs which can be used to clear out unwanted blocks. These are also a limited in quantity but you can find further bombs situated on some of the levels that you might have to factor into your route to the finish (which strangely always makes me thing about MGS and finding equipment in the field).
The controls are straightforward and are common to all versions of the game. I do think that you could do with a reminder before each time you start playing. It took me a while to recall how you actually release the mice upon returning to the game. But this is more a fault with me than the game but it would have helped since they are not listed with in the game.
The game plays at fairly sedate pace. There is a requirement to modify the mice’s path on some of the levels whilst in play in order to get all of the goodies and this provides the only real tension in the game which is no bad thing. You can also undo your item placements sequentially from last to first in real time without penalty which makes experimentation a lot more pleasurable. This by no means robs the game of any difficulty but does remove the annoyance of seeing a ‘game over’ screen repeatedly.
There is overarching story in the game with animated cut scenes revealing the plot. All to do with a space cat called Schrödinger and it is this feline’s experiment that we are actually playing. The use of Schrödinger is an obvious reference to Erwin Schrödinger’s thought experiment that was designed to show the problem when Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is applied to everyday objects (phew!). But instead of the experiment centring on a cat this game is about saving the lives of the trapped rodents. It does make you wonder why the game isn’t called Schrödinger’s Mice?
However there is a reason why this came alludes itself to the runaway success that is Minecraft. It contains within a level creator that allows you to produce your own levels using all the items that exist within the main game. It is very easy to use with minimal instructions that are only given as a series of prompts when selecting the items from the onscreen menu. Anything you build can be saved and the shared amongst your registered Sony devices (PS3, PS4 and PSVita) but not alas with others it would seem.
So after all that what’s it like…
Well the game is polished to a high standard and certainly provides value for money (especially if you own a PSVita). I wouldn’t recommend that you play it in isolation and instead dip in and out to avoid any feeling of repetition, but I hasten to add that you must keep playing it regularly to keep your skills ready because you have a lot of mice to save.