Mushroom 11 – What We Think:
Puzzle platformers come and go, until eventually you’ve seen everything the genre can do or offer. Not this time, though! Featuring a score with music by none other than ambient music lords Future Sound of London, Mushroom 11 from Untame is a totally unique addition with a bizarre mode of locomotion paired with some semi-physics-based “platforming.”
Locomotion through Self-Destruction
In Mushroom 11, you play as a pile of green mold laid on a semi-transparent grid. You cannot move; you’re mold. You can, however, remove large sections of yourself with your control – which is essentially a large circular energy-eraser, and you’ll automatically regenerate evenly across your entire surface. Quickly. By continuously destroying the cells on your right side, you’ll regenerate to the left.
If you need to go up to a ledge or pass over a gap, you just regenerate across it until there is a part of you resting on the side you want to be on; then you destroy everything else. You’ll then grow to your maximum size in one second on the opposite bank or cliff edge, happy as mold can be. You can also try rolling if you can figure out the fancy way to take away mass from the correct side and shift your balance just right.
The puzzles and challenges don’t flow like Super Mario or Super Meat Boy; they are separate entities that each much be conquered on their own terms. Once the fundamentals are established, there is little repetition in puzzle layout or solution. This was my greatest fear after getting started and wondering if all I ever got was mouse clicks to destroy the ever-rebuilding mold and nothing else.
I’ve taken a Lichen to You
My fears were never realized, as no element of a puzzle is repeated more than twice. Most often, puzzles are introduced in an environment that allows you to experiment risk-free, then you had appears again – not immediately after, and sometimes a level or two after – in a setting failure means resetting back to the last checkpoint.
Levels are lengthy, but checkpoints are generous. After every few challenges – or every high risk challenge – you will be given the courtesy of a checkpoint.
How do you die if you’re always regenerating? Well, the easiest way is to fall into a pit of lava or acid. Plus, you need to be aware that your regeneration has a restriction: it stops after you lose contact with the ground. An overzealous player can be wiping the screen with the cursor, deleting the mold’s cells, to suddenly find only one cell left while airborne. Hit a spike, and it kills your mold. No worries, though; you respawn instantly at the last checkpoint, ready to try again.
Just a Fun Guy
Now, about the difficulty of some of those puzzles. At times, I was inches from going mad. I wanted to tear my shirt off like Hulk Hogan and slam the ground like Donkey Kong. Near the end, my knuckle was starting to ache, even though the only interaction was a simple mouse button press. Considering that there must have been a small amount of AFK time while playing, and looking at Steam’s report of my eight hours clocked, it took me about six or seven hours to actually complete it.
Some of these challenges – not as puzzles in any sense – but as tests of skill and dexterity—took me many retries. As least a couple had me stuck for over 20 minutes. I will never say that they were too hard; here and there they were maybe a bit tedious, but patience is a virtue (and the lack thereof will force you to restart a section). We need more hard games, and Mushroom 11 should be praised for not taking the easy way out.
There are collectibles on each level as well, but if you get one and then die, you have to collect it again. It only saves if you hit a new checkpoint. This would be the only aspect of the game that I would change, as after a while it made me disregard the collectibles. I would like to see a collectible kept once acquired, even if you immediately die after touching it. Even then, I was able to gather at least 40% of them on my first run. Getting the rest could provide a hefty challenge and add more play time to an already difficult game.
Watch the trailer for Mushroom 11 below: