Oddly enough, there are tons of games that have the “craft” suffix, such as Starcraft, Warcraft, Minecraft, and so on. This unique naming trope in gaming makes for some interesting titles that don’t seem to look or play like those aforementioned games. There are those that aren’t even about crafting or any sort of mastery at all, whether it’s the craft of warfare or of making anything. MouseCraft isn’t about making mice, nor making them make stuff, or sending them off to war. However, you kind of control them, sort of.
MouseCraft is a puzzle game by Crunching Koalas that is like a puzzle platformer of sorts with Tetris blocks and other elements. The story follows the laboratory exploits of a feline scientist named Schrodinger (how quaint) and how he struggles to make his experiments with mice work. He spends the last of his personal savings on cheese in a gamble to see if he can finally get his experiments to succeed. That’s where you comes in, and he starts hitting pay dirt when you’re doing well.
In every puzzle, you get three mice that you must lead to the cheese. You are given blocks to bridge gaps and lead up elevated platforms, then you can release them and see how they get from point A to B. They are able to climb up single blocks at a time and would turn around when a wall is higher than that, and they can jump off as high as three blocks without dying. Their capabilities set the rules for all of the puzzles and dictate what you can and cannot do.
Other elements then come in like bombs for removing bricks and ratoids that can kill your mice, as well as Anima shards that serve as collectibles that add to completion of each level. All of these are introduced into the game with well-paced tutorials in the first few levels, and then the challenge gets ramped up. You also get a pausing feature so that you can have some time to place or destroy bricks, as well as a speed-up feature in case you think that the mice are taking too long to traverse the level.
In terms of presentation, MouseCraft is rudimentary at best as its indie roots show right from the first cutscene. There is no voice acting other than some uhm’s and ah’s, and the wipe transitions in between scenes and menus are kind of tacky. It still looks good for the most part with its visual design, how cute the mice look, and how much detail there is on Schrodinger and the environment. You do get some graphical options to tweak around, but you should be able to play it on high since the system requirements are not on heavy side.
Once you’ve finished the singleplayer puzzles, there is a level editor for making your own puzzles, so you can play around and even create something to stomp other people. The difficulty of the puzzles are such that it can take some time before you get them all. Some of them will most likely stump you more than others though, either by sheer scale of challenge or just the solution being not obvious at all with the given blocks that you can use.
It’s a nice distraction and would do well as a mobile game, but it doesn’t have enough pull and character to really give it significant appeal. There are some things that could hold it over for a bit, and its gameplay is pretty solid in its execution of the premise, but it does feel like every other puzzle game of its kind. If you like cute mice walking around and stuff though, then this game should still be alright.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 6.5/10