Freed from the shackles of financially motivated businessmen, the indie space is awash with bonkers ideas, and Crunching Koala’s upcoming MouseCraft is no exception. The lovechild of Tetris and Lemmings, the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Vita titles puts you in the steampunk shoes of a crazy cat scientist – aptly named Schrödinger – whose experiments require cheese and, of course, rodents to operate. As a result, this game promises to put your lateral thinking hat through its paces, while you consume more of the delectable dairy snack than you thought was humanly possible.
Let’s go somewhere where there’s cheese, Gromit.
Take several rather adorable mice, place them in a two-dimensional obstacle course, add several Tetris-style blocks, and you’ve got the basic formula for Curve Studios’ latest conversion. The abovementioned feline will gaze on expectantly through glass, as you aid the critters on their travels using tetrimino blocks, with the end goal being a nice slab of crumbly Cathedral City. Bricks come in several different forms, each with their own effects; from soft ones to cushion your mice’s fall to others that crumble upon use, the variety of tools at your disposal is what will test your brain your most, as you’ll constantly need to question where to place what.
If the survival of your rodents wasn’t enough to handle, those who’ll be searching for the perfect score will have to collect the gems dotted around each level, as well as working to ensure that there are no casualties along the way. The aforementioned charms are also used to unlock levels, so skill will be pivotal to your progression here.
Other dynamics include explosives, which will need to be collected in order to destroy inconveniently situated blocks, and Active Pause – a nifty mechanic that temporarily stops proceedings while you play, giving you a little extra thinking time before a poor mouse plummets to its untimely demise. You’re able to place blocks during this intermission, making it a crucial part of play, especially in the faster levels. Nefarious mechanical mice will creep about some levels, too, offering up another obstacle to navigate, but thankfully they can be dispatched with some cunning block placing, or even used tactically to detonate explosive squares.
And you’ll be using these techniques through more levels than you can shake a cheese slicer at – 80 to be precise – across multiple laboratories, each with their own soundtracks, backdrops, and puzzles. Better still, the game will be cross-buy, meaning that you’ll only need to pay once to unlock it across all of the aforementioned PlayStation formats – pretty nifty, huh? It’s worth pointing out that the portable version can be played using a combination of its parent platform’s touch screen and iconic face buttons, or with each individually. Naturally, it doesn’t look quite as good as on the big screen, but cross-save means you’ll be able to switch between all versions without a hitch.
Don’t worry if you nibble your way through all of the included content either, as the bundled level editor should be just what the cat-doctor ordered. Here you’ll be able to construct your own intricate levels using the in-game items, and share your cunning concoctions with the title’s online community – it’s LittleBigPlanet with a nasty rat infestation.
With plenty of variety on display in the few levels that we played, and a near limitless stream of content courtesy of the level editor, Crunching Koalas has seemingly made this simple concept flourish. There are some really clever design decisions on display here, and we’ll be buttering our crackers in anticipation for the title’s 8th July and 9th July launches in North America and Europe as a result.
Have you got the scent of this slick looking puzzler, or do you think that it all sounds a bit cheesy? Take a bite in the comments section below.