The Mooseman is an educational side-scrolling puzzle platformer developed by a duo comprised of Vladimir Belesky and Mikhail Shvachko, and published by a familiar face here, SometimesYou. It tells the story of the mysterious Mooseman on his journey through the three layers of the world. Bypassing spirits and man alike, his adventure transcends him to the likes of ancient gods on his quest to reach the Upper World, the home of the Ancients.
The gameplay mechanics are pretty standard for platformers, but with a twist, one you do not see much in video games nowadays. The main premise of The Mooseman is to provide a learning experience for everyone. It teaches you tales of the Chud tribes and the mysteries surrounding the Finno-Ugric myths. Being interested in mythology, I found it very interesting to focus the story on teaching people about an unknown pagan ritual that I hadn’t heard of prior to playing. However, if mythology really doesn’t do much for you, the overall game still has its moments nonetheless.
Due to the educational nature that this game tries to fulfill, the game is rather easy but still holds a few challenges up its sleeve. Most of the time, you will find yourself walking around looking for the next puzzle, but once you find them, some brainstorming may be needed to succeed. The Mooseman has two main abilities, traveling between the Lower and Middle World and a trusty shield for some much-needed protection in the later levels. The Lower World, the land of the spirits, introduces some peculiar individuals to help your progression in the Middle World, the land of men. Various riddles in this title use this power, but my favorite comes when you need to use a living boulder to evade dastardly enemies. The bizarre nature of this action makes it really enjoyable, while also providing an insight into a topic that I have very little knowledge of.
In addition, you have the option to collect colorful runes, known as artefacts, that do not provide anything besides a brief description and an extra objective to your gameplay. However, some of these collectibles can only be unlocked by doing a secret combination of inputs. This adds an extra layer of exploration to look for clues on how to achieve these mysterious items. I found myself going out of the way to gather them and I found it nice to do some critical thinking in an otherwise peaceful game with few twists and turns.
The visuals and soundtrack of The Mooseman provided me with mixed signals and I wasn’t sure how I felt. For the most part, I was enthralled by the visuals and thought the style the developers chose paired well with the game as a whole. The silhouetted aesthetic remained me of Limbo as did the spooky, enigmatic atmosphere. It also provided a clear distinguished between the good and evil presented in this mythos. The only issue I had was my difficulty distinguishing platforms in a few cluttered areas. It gets a bit difficult seeing some of the environment when everything is in shades of black and white.
On the other hand, I had a bit more issues with the sounds and soundtrack. So, I thought the soundtrack was amazing, providing noises and thuds from a previous time, forgotten by modern music. I want to praise these aspects because I feel it did the best to represent the old tribes and the folklore and traditions they believed in. My issues stemmed from more of a technical side of the way the sounds were applied. First off, this title does not support an audio slider, a major oversight when designing this game. Now, normally I would not think too much of this, I could just adjust my audio through my television or headphones. However, the point stems when it reaches the extremes. There were various moments where I had to remove my headset because the game reached levels at which it was unbearably loud. I could not fathom why these events were that bad, while I could hardly hear other sections. I was left clueless about these choices.
Overall, The Mooseman is a fun, educational voyage down a path barely traveled and has the potential to be enjoyable on multiple levels. The game is not perfect but has fewer flaws than achievements. Being priced at $7 USD, I would recommend that you pick this up. The game is rather short, but I feel it tells its story well in that time span. I think it is time to venture into an unknown world full of more secrets than it seems. Are you ready?
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7.5/10
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