By: Ted Chow
If you were to tell me that moving a microbial blob across a 2D puzzle platformer would be so exciting, I would be in utter disbelief of the notion. Mushroom 11 is one of those games that defies initial impressions of a premise and offers a solid experience throughout your play through. If a unique indie title that breaks normal conventions is your thing, Mushroom 11 will be a breath of fresh air.
The controls for Mushroom 11 are some of the most unique I’ve seen. Feeling more like a tablet game where you would manipulate your hands or a tablet pen, that concept is present in this PC title. The mouse will act similar to a pen where you can choose between a wider or fine tip cursor to shape the blob, and moving the blob is as simple as repeating a mouse motion.
More complex actions can also be taken to shape the blob to solve interesting environmental puzzles such as crossing lava pits, vertical rocks and many more. Overall, some finesse is required with manipulating the blob, but it is all the more satisfying to solve the puzzles that come your way.
Mushroom 11 is a game that puts less focus on the character and more on the environmental backdrops, which are pretty to look at as far as a post-apocalyptic settings goes. There is an eerie sense of mystery to the entire game that is made possible with the gritty yet colorful palette. The Super Metroid vibe also comes across thanks to all the unique organisms that you will try to consume and extract their DNA. The soundtrack provides the gameplay with the necessary ambience to give more perspective to the overall world.
Players will take command of a microbial organism that traverses across 2D stages in order to progress further. It is essentially a puzzler in the sense that you must manipulate the microorganism into different shapes to tackle the environment.
From crossing over lava to splitting your mass to press a lever in tight tunnels, getting a firm grip on how the microorganism shapes is important. Aside from the early learning curve, playing around with what works will provide the muscle memory to solve the future challenges.
While tackling stages you will come across other organisms that you can absorb into your mass. By doing so you collect DNA points that don’t serve any purpose other than to give you more points at the end screen of the level.
Not all organisms are easily absorbed as creatures such as poisoned spiders can dissolve your mass unless you find a way to split off the poisoned part. This is the most unique aspect of Mushroom 11, aside from the fact that you can manipulate/split your body mass.
At the end of the stage there will typically be a boss fight of some kind that will require some interesting ways to absorb parts of the boss to defeat them. After the boss is defeated, the player will get a rank on how well they did for that particular stage.
This is there for the speed runners and completionists that want to bring about interesting challenges for themselves. Overall, it is a nice addition to this primarily single-player experience as it offers replayability and general leaderboard competition.
Mushroom 11 definitely has a unique premise and general fun factor to make the game feel compelling and thoughtful towards its audience. If you were into Play-Doh and gooey stuff as a child, this is it in a virtual form. While the mileage will vary from player to player, the unique gameplay is more than enough to justify the price of admission.