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Posted by GG Goblin On August - 2 - 2018

Save humanity, and don’t drive off cliffs.

Saving humanity is a common theme in video games, even though I sometimes wonder if it would be worth it. Take Mugsters for example, the new game from Reinkout Games and Team17 that is available on most platforms, but that is reviewed here on the Nintendo Switch. Aliens have invaded and it comes down to the player to find the captured humans and lead them to safety. However, are they really worth saving if they can’t even walk around a wall without getting stuck? Mind you, I can’t really talk as the first time I got in a car, I drove it off a cliff. Still, I guess it’s a learning curve.

mugsters1 (Copy)

Mugsters is an action adventure game with physics, puzzles and a fairly unique visual style. As previously mentioned, the player is given the task of saving humans after an alien invasion, which is nothing new. What is new is that saving those humans is not really the core objective of each level. Instead, the most important thing is to escape the level and save yourself.

Levels are presented as self-contained islands, and the most important objective is to reach the plane that zips the player away from danger. In this respect, there won’t be much of a challenge. However, each level comes with a further bunch of objectives, and progression through the game will require being a little less selfish. Around each level are humans stuck in tubes. Break the tubes open and a human will pop out and follow the player, presumably to safety. Then there are crystals strewn around each level to collect. Finally, each level will have a more specific objective, such as having to blow something up for example. So sure, escaping the level is an option, but completing all the other objectives would be better.

mugsters2 (Copy)

The thing is, saving all of the humans, collecting all of the crystals and doing whatever other devilish thing the game wants becomes quite difficult, quite quickly, especially as death is so easy to come by, both for the player and the saved humans. They are not the sharpest knives in the drawer and will follow the player no matter what the danger. If the player dies, it means starting the level again from the beginning. Thankfully, partially completed objectives are saved once the player escapes, so levels can be finished over multiple playthroughs, making life a little easier.

Players are expected to work all of this out for themselves. There is no tutorial, no explanation guiding the player in the right direction. For many players, this will be a cause of frustration, but I figure if you have already bought the game, you might as well put the time in to work out what’s going on. In place of a tutorial, the player is first set down in a hub world of their very own, a place where players can try things out, perhaps practising picking up and throwing stuff or hopping into one of the vehicles and getting used to the twitchy driving mechanics, all before jumping into the first level. I am a big fan of hub worlds, and in the absence of a tutorial, it is certainly welcome here.

The aliens are still around and will not be happy with the players efforts to thwart them. There are only a few different types, but they can still prove to be quite a pain. Much like the puzzles in the game, players will find themselves having to work out how to defeat them using all of the different features in the environment, such as leading them into traps or holes. There is a nice freedom to how the player approaches the puzzles or the enemies, and there will be plenty of sudden eureka moments when the player works something out.

mugsters3 (Copy)

I think it is time to talk about the visuals. The low-poly art with bright, contrasting colours makes the game nice to look at and certainly unique. However, the game is viewed from quite a distance away, and the players character is incredibly small as a result. The text in the game is also very little and will cause some squinting for even the most eagle-eyed players. While on the big screen, this is nothing more than a slight annoyance, playing the game in handheld mode on Switch really doesn’t feel like it has been thought through properly, which is something I am seeing more and more in Switch games.

Mugsters offers local co-op where each players gets a Joy-con. The game is tweaked slightly to accommodate two players, with solutions often requiring a spot of team work, which is great and makes for some hilarious gameplay. However, due to the visuals, this is not the sort of game that could be whipped out and played with a friend away from home as the Switch screen is just too small. Couch co-op it is then.

Mugsters is as chaotic as it is crazy, and most levels will require a few runs in order to fully complete. There are time trials as well, allowing players to rush through the levels at speed, and then try to improve that speed. But the real problem that Mugsters faces is the repetition. Creative players will find new and exciting ways to use the games physics to solve problems, but the less creative will find themselves doing the same few things in each level, over and over again.

mugsters4 (Copy)

There is a lot of fun to be had in Mugsters. The visuals may not be ideal, but they are enjoyable. Creative thinkers will get the most from the sandbox layout of the levels, and there is plenty to experiment with. The puzzles can be challenging, and playing with a friend is great on the big screen. The lack of tutorial and repetitive nature will not suit all Switch players, but for those looking for a quirky action puzzle game packed with mayhem, Mugsters would be a good choice.




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