Mousecraft – What We Think:
Mousecraft is a fusion of Tetrominos with a Lemmings-style deployment of 3 adorable little mice who, upon being released dutifully march towards the cheese.
You are tasked with assisting Schrödinger, a loony cat scientist, to test the behaviors of cute little mice. Along the way, you discover that some kind of cosmic beings are willing to reward you with more resources for experiments provided you supply them with blue crystals that show up as a result of your testing.
While it may at first be tempting to compare it to Tetris, it is actually nothing like it; here you are offered three blocks, not at random, that you deploy across a small obstacle course to ensure that your mice reach their goal without dying, while collecting as many crystals and bombs as possible along the way. Blocks can be rotated and dropped before the mice are released, during their walk, or you can pause them at any time to place the blocks in the way. You can also rewind as many steps as you want at any time.
A Better Mousetrap
What is interesting, is that very specific timing, and a combination of block drops, bomb detonations and the pause function can sometimes be the only way of getting all the objectives for a level. Further variety is added with Jelly blocks that allow your mice to drop safely from greater heights (they can normally only survive a 2-block drop, and, incidentally can only ascend a 1-block jump). Also there are robotic mice that will attack yours in realtime, so you must avoid such interactions in your pathway planning.
The first 5 or 10 levels are really more of a tutorial, slowly adding each new element. But as you are introduced to the gamut of variables, the challenge escalates rather quickly. I never felt, however, that the puzzles were unfair or mere trial and error; if you look carefully enough and really grok the lay of the land at the outset, you can feasibly solve it before making a single move. Of course, this becomes far less likely as a much greater set of factors is introduced.
There is no random or procedural generation going on here, as far as I can see. What you see is what you get, and, like a good jigsaw puzzle, once you’ve solved it, you sort have it in the bag. However, there is a custom level editor that lets you take the engine further, once you have completed the campaign.
The Sounds of Science
The musical score by Mikolai Stroinski whose other works include The Witcher 3, Dark Souls 2 and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, is an absolute standout – a lush and airy orchestral treatment that could easily be mistaken for Danny Elfman.
I played the game on OUYA, and my only warning is that this is fairly “big game” for the mighty little indie console that could. At 450MB it takes up just over 1/16th of the console’s total storage. Of course, you can sidecar a USB drive, but I’m just letting you know, in case you don’t have a spare drive; you may end up having to delete some other games to make room for it.
Master of the Craft
Mousecraft features fetching Saturday-morning-cartoon style animated 3D graphics and a wide variety of clever, incrementally challenging and complex puzzles that force you to sit back and contemplate things for a while before just trying to jam square pegs into round holes. With roughly 80 levels to solve and a well implemented custom level editor, there is a lot of content and variety on offer here. Wrapped up in a highly polished package, Mousecraft is an outstanding gaming choice from 2014 for all ages.
Watch the OUYA trailer for Mousecraft