Curve Studios is one of my favorite publishing groups. They have a way of finding great talent to make a fun game. I jumped at the chance to review Mousecraft sight unseen, because Curve has never steered me wrong. I wasn't fully aware of what I was getting myself into, though.
Mousecraft puts you in the shoes (furry feet?) of Dr. Schrodinger, a cat who, for some reason, does tests where mice go for cheese over a series of increasingly deadly obstacles. Benefitting Dr. Schrodinger, is the fact that these mice can pick up special crystals that allow him to fund more research. What for, though? I couldn't tell you. If Schrodinger is building these contraptions to test mice, why is he putting these crystals inside? Why not just take the crystals to the buyer? What good is feeding mice in a world of cats? If he's so twisted as to create ways for the mice to die grisly deaths, why is he happy to feed them? If he is training them, why don't they learn?
Insane storyline aside, you'll find a charming puzzler inside this game. Your goal is to get mice from Point A to Point B. They can climb one block, drop up to four, and walk a steady pace. Basically, run them into anything else, and they die. You avoid traps by droping blocks (blatant Tetrominos) onto the field to either cover a hole, provide an escape, or destroy obstacles. As time goes on, you'll find powerups, such as bombs to destroy blocks or jelly blocks to soften falls. Three mice to the end=three "stars". It feels a lot like a game that'd do well on a touchscreen device such as an ipad, right down to the scoring system and simplistic background level designs that rarely change.
My surprise, however, came in the fact that my eight year old son has fallen in love with the game. Every other night, it's "Can I play Mousecraft?" He hasn't ever been much of a puzzle fan, but this Lemmings-meets-Tetris game has caught him, with the cute art style, ability to pause and think rather than just let mice fall off a cliff, and satisfaction of completing puzzles. Unfortunately, there are no "hint systems" at all, and we have run across a couple that seem flat-out impossible to three star, or at least get all the crystals, and may end up having to resort to YouTube for some of the trickier ones. But all in all, I didn't think this game would appeal to a younger audience, even though it is cartoony, due to the cerebral nature. Yet here I find my PS4 stuck to my son as he crafts the mazes to help the mice get the cheese. Heaven forbid he ever finds the "create your own level" setup, allowing you to craft your own experimental deathtraps for the three blind mice...
MouseCraft is an insane value as well, giving you cross buy on any Sony platform you may own. While I don't own a Vita yet, I feel it would be very handy for a pick up and play session. As it stands, it looks about identical between PS3 and PS4, so you won't miss out on anything getting it for PS3. A charming puzzle game with artistic yet simple graphics and a catchy combination of two tried and true puzzlers, MouseCraft should squeak it's way into your gaming library.
4 out of 5
MouseCraft is available for all Sony platforms as well as PC and Mac for $14.99.
Thanks to Curve Studios for providing a copy for review.