While playing MouseCraft, the one thing that crossed my mind with a feverish consistency, was how the hell can I explain this game to you without out saying, ‘its Tetris meets lemmings?’
Well, I’ve realised that it just cant be done. What I can tell you however, is that those two games thrown together with a bit of humour and creative license, makes for a pretty damn good puzzle game. Put simply, Mouse Craft is an addictive and extremely difficult puzzler that looks great and plays better.
Mouse Craft tells the story of crazed, feline scientist Dr Schrodinger who is obsessed with putting mice in awful situations to see if they can find their way to the cheese, collecting special blue crystals along the way. His test subjects aren't exactly the smartest rodents in the lab however, choosing to wander idly in a single direction until facing anything that could hinder progress, which means they’ll simply U-turn and repeat. These mice cant climb any higher than one block and although they can handle a bit of a tumble, if it's a steeper drop than 3 blocks, they're toast!
So this is how the game eases you into the puzzle frame of mind, offering up a handful of Tetris like blocks to plug gaps and make bridges to gently nudge your mice to their end goal. The initial concept is a fun challenge, slowly giving you more difficult maps that offer some mild head scratchers but still nothing too taxing. Soon after you've settled in and perhaps gotten a bit cocky with how quickly you can blaze through a map, you’ll be introduced to yet more complications. ‘Ratoids’, robot rodents that will kill your furry friends on site, make an appearance as well as bombs. Yep, you’ll have to collect bombs in order to destroy pre-placed Tetris pieces that block your way, as well as pieces you've laid yourself for a one time use.
You’ll even be gifted some new blocks, such as the jelly block which will save your special mice from dying after an extra steep tumble. Sure, there aren't all too many ground breaking ideas to be found here, but with each addition to your arsenal of blocks, Mouse Craft twists and turns again, giving you that bit more to think about. Water, for example, doubles as a cushion for a fall and a watery grave if you cant show them an escape route before they run out of oxygen.
Mouse Craft looks good and I say that with purpose because it's no next-gen smash in the graphics department, but theres some great ideas at play, with its cartoon style and animated backgrounds that show Schrodinger pressing his face to the glass, eagerly watching his subjects scramble around. Overall, it looks lovely and translates well on the PS Vitas OLED screen. It's a small shame that this sense of style hasn't necessarily translated into the realms of its soundtrack, which is a rather standard offering but again, it's not bad just nothing extraordinary.
Once you’ve had your fill of the games main puzzle quest, you can try you hand at creating your own devious designs of dastardly entrapment for mice (I'm copywriting that!). Just don't expect to share your best work with other plays online, as unfortunately thats a feature that simply doesn't exist. I wish I knew why, as it feels like such a missed opportunity.
Overall, Mouse Craft is a joy to play. It's a fun puzzle game that oozes personality and offers a challenge while never alienating players with harsh learning curves. Hours of fun can be had by all and while this is basically Tetris mixed with Lemmings, who cares? I loved those games and I really like this one!