MouseCraft Review (PC)
If Lemmings and Tetris had a baby, that baby would be MouseCraft, the fiendishly-clever new puzzle game from Crunching Koalas. Mashing two different video games doesn’t always work, but here the whole most definitely adds up to more than the sum of its parts.
Schrodinger the Cat Scientist loves him some frickin' experiments, and despite being of the feline persuasion he also likes his little mouseys, so it's your job to help him complete these scientific inquiries to keep the funding a-flowing and the mice a-fed. MouseCraft consists of numerous short, sweet puzzles wherein you manipulate blocks and obstacles to make sure Schrodinger's three mice reach the end-of-level cheese and snag as many of the crystals as they can so you can keep unlocking more levels. MouseCraft's puzzles are an absolute blast to solve, and are usually set up in a way that leads you to the right solution without ever holding your hand. Plus, different solutions can often get the same result, so you're free to be as creative as you want.
MouseCraft's puzzle are pretty straightforward to begin with, but as you progress through the levels more and more new mechanics get introduced. Early on things are more straightforward and you'll mostly be dropping some blocks and destroying others with bombs to make a path for your mice. Later sections up the challenge with new mechanics like the Ratoids, vicious mechanical mice who abhor their living counterparts and attack them mercilessly, or the sections filled with double-edged water, which allows you to drop your mice from greater heights and survive, but will drown the squeakers should they dawdle for too long without popping above water for a breath.
The periodic influx of these new game mechanics help keep everything as fresh as a summer breeze. While the puzzles themselves are all quite finely tuned, but most levels do involve the same formula of spinning/dropping blocks to create a pathway for your mice- a formula which may grow tiresome to some players.While many puzzle games require you to complete every level to make progress, MouseCraft only requires that a single mouse survive for you to move on. Getting one mouse out alive is the easy part; getting out all three while simultaneously nabbing every crystal is what separates that science kittens from the science cats.
There's a certain finesse to crafting the soundtrack for a puzzle game. Since players will occasionally have to listen to the same tune for extended periods of time while they're figuring things out, the music needs to be fun and catchy, but not too attention-grabbing lest it grate on the nerves. MouseCraft's soundtrack accomplishes this magnificently with its selection of upbeat, breezy tunes that tickle the ears without ever over-stimulating them. On the flip side, the visuals, while decent, lack variety, so expect level thirty to look fairly similar to level thirteen or three. Also, Schrodinger the Science Cat likes to watch the action from the background, and, to be quite honest, it's a little creepy. He's cute enough during the cutscenes, but the way he stares vacantly, almost hungrily, as you parse your way through the puzzles it gets disconcerting.
Despite a bit of repetition and one creepy voyeuristic cat, MouseCraft is a puzzler with brains to spare. The levels are smart, fast, and fun, and the flexible victory conditions let players play the way they want to without being confined to repeating the same stage over and over. Gamers hungry for a bit of creative/critical thinking should most definitely put out the cheese and let this mouse come out to play.
This review was completed with a purchased download of MouseCraft for PC.