Whilst this reviewer believes that all video game formats are indeed pieces of art, The Mooseman pushes this viewpoint towards a more traditional mindset. In all honesty, this reviewer had no idea about Russian folklore and Myth before this review. It’s great to see developer Vladimir Beletsky bring a story of the so called Middle World to life though the medium of gaming.
The issue with The Mooseman is the actual Gameplay elements, which pretty much sets the title up to fall flat in its execution. The titles main mechanic is switching between the ethereal and physical worlds, which a handful of platformers and role playing games have played with previously such as the Legend of Zelda series and my recently reviewed Fox n Forest. The idea itself is great, the execution however can be patchy in parts.
Said mechanic is mostly used to navigate the in game world by walking through physical and ethereal barriers and manipulating the physical realm. Another form of navigation The Mooseman weaves into its gameplay is puzzle aspects which open the path to the next element of fallen Sun, which is imbalanced to say the least.
Some puzzles turn into pure guesswork as no clues or indicators are on screen to direct players. This isn’t a gripe due to one’s lack of puzzling skill, but one of the titles level design. The Mooseman is quite unforgiving at times, whilst other Puzzle portions of levels are clear and straightforward. One feels that this puts up an unnecessary difficulty barrier in an attempt to elongate a short title.
This imbalance rears its ugly head when coming into contact with The Moosemans boss areas. These tasks mostly consist of sneaking past an oversized animal by using various techniques. These range from stealth to once again manipulating the physical plain, and once again, players will find sporadic difficulty levels present. At one point, this reviewer had to play a game of trial and error by repeatedly running through a level to see if one got caught or not. It was about as fulfilling as eating a Sunday dinner with a live Chicken on my plate.
Re, Spect, Walk
Whilst The Mooseman features an auto walking option which keeps players focused on the titles environments and prompts, it’s control latency defeats the object. More often than not, switching plains was delayed slightly which prompted an easily avoidable barrier which killed the protagonist and sent this reviewer back to the last checkpoint.
The presentation and texture style in The Mooseman is very well tied to it’s Perm Tribe origins, providing character models in an almost cave drawing style with it’s Chalk-On-Stone aesthetic. The authentic feel stretches to weather effects such as snowfall or high winds, with an emphasis of glow effects on ethereal parts of the game. The soundtrack is also oozing authenticity with traditional Komi folk music throughout, which along with Komi-Permian voice acting is a blatant homage to the culture and background the title successfully animates.
Graphics and Presentation: 4.5
Overall Score: 3.3 / 5.0
This reviewer was horrified to find a tangerine of a title with a culturally thick skin, only to find the forgotten and rotting fruit held within. The Mooseman is an obvious love note to a bygone age in Russian history, which this reviewer has noted and respected highly. The Mooseman puts gameplay on the back burner in order to push Myth and rich culture, which leads one to thinking this should have been produced as an animated comic of sorts.
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam
Price: £6.29 (eShop)
Publisher: Sometimes You
Developer: Vladimir Beletsky
Release Date: 18/07/2018
Age Rating: PEGI 16+
Review copy provided by publisher