The lonely tale of an amorphous organism.
Puzzle games don't have to reinvent the wheel to succeed, but a creative mechanic goes a long way. Case in point: Mushroom 11. One look and it appears to be a game in which the player controls a giant blob organism and pushes it along with the mouse. There's only a small bit of truth to that premise, and my hands-on time with Mushroom 11 at PAX Prime's Indie Megabooth revealed how the game's control scheme helps create a unique puzzle experience.
In reality players only control a very small part of the organism blob, and the game is less about pushing it along and more about careful thinking. Using the mouse allows the player to delete one part of the organism, which then appears on the other side of it. Seeing the process in action helps illuminate the process, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. I struggled with the controls at first, but not so much that frustration ensued. I simply had to rethink how to approach a game like Mushroom 11.
Eventually, I started to familiarize myself with the feel of the game and completed obstacles in a quicker fashion. That's not to say I didn't hit some roadblocks along the way. There are tiny crevices with branching paths, falling buildings, and lava pits. Some of the obstacles can destroy the organism, while others just take time to figure out. The tunnel with branching paths in particular was like a mini-puzzle that I had to solve, which was a nice change of pace from the more open areas in other parts of the game.
The various obstacles add some variety to Mushroom 11, as does the boss fight at the end of the demo. I had to battle a spider-like creature that shoots out dangerous fireballs. In order to defeat the boss, I had to climb around it and hit his various weak points, all while avoiding those fireballs. Otherwise, the organism falls off and it's back to square one. Even the boss fight had its own learning curve, and I slowly worked my way to the other side of the boss and hit the last weak point. Into the lava it went, and thus the demo ended.
It'll be interesting to see how the physics-based puzzle platformer handles the difficulty curve and what kind of obstacles await players in the later parts of the game. Nevertheless, the PAX demo effectively captured what makes Mushroom 11 such an impressive award-winning game and how players have to approach it with a different mindset. Once those controls become second nature, Mushroom 11 shines.
Mushroom 11 is scheduled to come out this Fall on PC.