MouseCraft is the latest puzzle game from Curve Studios that sets players one simple goal: get the mice to the cheese. The task at hand turns out to be a bit more difficult than that though, of course. Using Tetris-like block – or Tetrominoes – players must build stairs, paths and bridges to aid the mice on their journey. There are also blue shards known as Anima shards, to collect along the way in order to ace the level and unlock more of the map.
Things naturally start off slow and easy to allow players time to get to grips with the premise of the game. Upon completion of certain levels, new items and techniques are introduced; items such as bombs, mechanical rats and water, to name but a few. These are fine at first and feel like the natural progression to mix things up. However, these new additions come thick and fast and there are so many of them that it does feel like the developers have tried to cram in every idea they had. Levels only uses a couple of these introductions at a time so it’s not the end of the world, it’s just a lot to take in during the first few hours.
There are 80 levels to get through and collecting all the Anima shards adds that extra element which will increase the overall play time. The concept of getting little characters from one end to the other will not be unfamiliar to fans of games such as Lemmings. The difficulty also echoes that of the little green-haired men as well, with a bit of Tetris thrown in. It’s a fun puzzle game that will make you think, try and fail but not to the point where you want to give up in frustration and never play it again.
There’s a level designer in the game where players can have a go at building their own puzzles and traps. However, there’s no online component in the game, outside of leaderboards. This renders players unable to share levels with friends or download other people’s creations, which feels like a missing component in this day and age.
The game is very bright and vibrant with the creators’ choice of colours, and you get a real sense of depth with Schrödinger watching on in the background. Schrödinger is the scientist, who’s also a cat, naturally, that’s performing these experiments in order to obtain Anima shards to fund more experiments. He’ll stand outside the glass box of the level and react to what happens, whether it be cheering at successful cheese eating or cringing at the loss of a poor mouse. It’s a nice touch and stops the levels feeling flat.
MouseCraft is available on both PS3 and PS4, as well as the Vita. The game’s cross-buy for all three PlayStation platforms and similarly to Curve’s Stealth Inc, it also boasts cross-save. The controls are relatively simple, making it easy for people to pick up and play. This is ideal for solving puzzles with a friend when they can grab the controller and have a go, even if they haven’t played it previously. The Vita also makes full use of the touchscreen as pieces can be dragged and dropped as well as placed using the buttons, as on the console version.
As previously mentioned, Lemmings immediately springs to mind with MouseCraft. Where frustration came from the smallest of mistakes in Lemmings, forcing a full level restart, Curve Studios have given players unlimited rewinds to undo any mistakes at any time during play. It’s very much about trial and error with these kinds of games and the rewind feature is a welcomed addition that just takes that bit of frustration out of the game to keep players engaged and enjoying the experience.
MouseCraft is clearly inspired by a combination of puzzle games that came before it but combines them into a solid, fun and addictive title. A couple of the levels do see the difficulty jump up rapidly and break the flow a little bit but making players think that little bit harder is by no means a negative point, though these levels may have some gamers giving up. Overall, MouseCraft is a great puzzle game in a generation in which it seems that these types of games are few and far between compared to the more popular shooter and action games. Ultimately, if you’re a fan of puzzle games, you’ll love MouseCraft, which is sure to keep you on your toes by constantly throwing new items and ideas at you.