The Mooseman is a 2D puzzle adventure game that has you solving riddles in order to pass through planes and make your way to The Upper World. Inspired by pagan myths of the Chud’ and Finno-Urgic tribes, encounter forgotten gods and unlock new abilities as you make your way through the layers of creation.
Disclaimer: Review code was provided by Sometimes You (via Terminals). However, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are solely our own.
Graphics / Art Design
The approach to The Mooseman’s art design is gorgeous in that it represents much of the past culture that it is inspired from. The 3D layering effect, along with the lighting, grants a stunning amount of depth to a purely 2D adventure. It is almost as though you can count how many layers there are in a single frame. The lighting effects are simply amazing, truly bringing a sense of grandeur to a game heavily focused on its visuals.
The entire game is presented through a cinemascope aspect ratio, giving it that consistent wide shot in order to accentuate the long journey and the picturesque landscape visuals. This also helps during particular moments of storytelling, granting a cinematic experience during important scenes.
Becoming the Mooseman allows you to pass in between planes of existence, allowing you to pass through immovable objects that are in your way and manipulate the world around you. The initial challenge of the game relies on you to swap back and forth between planes in order to solve riddles. This does pose an issue in that the lack of variety in controls limits the challenge of the game. That being said, the developers at Sometimes You do some interesting things with the minimalistic mechanics that they’ve based their game around. The gameplay does change as you proceed through the game, providing a nice mix of mechanics which keeps the gameplay fresh in its short experience. However, these mechanics never get inherently complex and always remain basic for the point of story progression.
There are loosely implemented gameplay sections that require you to pass through various planes. However, none are particularly difficult and simply add to the visual spectacle. When difficulty is presented, it primarily can be due to awkward mechanics that puts a damper on the challenge.
Whilst The Mooseman is clearly a visual experience that is made to educate, there are moments when you’ll find that his walking speed is too slow for seasoned gamers. You are able to double tap the button in order to walk automatically, but that doesn’t make him walk any faster.
Some basic button inputs, such the ability to press B in order to exit a menu, are missing. Whilst the game was initially intended for PC and mobile, we can understand why. However, this subtle maintenance feature would have been made guiding through the menus a lot less cumbersome.
Surprisingly enough, there are boss fights. They’re not particularly challenging in any way, and are still revolved around puzzle solving, but it certainly adds to the grand spectacle of it all.
Lastly, The Mooseman supports video capture on the Switch from launch. The ability to do this was clearly important to the developers as the game presents so many memorable moments.
The overall scope of the game allows you to experience the journey of The Mooseman itself, encountering various beasts and strange happenings in a story that is rarely told in popular media. Taking inspiration from classics myths and legends adds authenticity to the experience, making the game a breath of fresh air.
You’ll often see sketches and paintings in the style of ancient runes and artifacts, teaching the player the rich cultural background of the Chud’ and Finno-Urgic tribes. When collecting artifacts, they aren’t merely for decoration. Each one brings an historical bio that teaches the player of its origins and reveals where they are currently kept today. The Mooseman encourages the player to seek out all that the game has to offer in order to learn more about the Chud’ and Finno-Urgic culture.
However, stopping and starting in order to read the Myths has a negative effect on the game’s momentum. Presenting some of these Myths organically could have greatly improved the pace of the game. However, these Myths do provide great context as to what is currently taking place in-game.
The world is set out to be seamlessly transitioned between different planes. There are hidden areas that contain artifacts, forcing you to keep an eye out for visual hints.
From a gameplay perspective, the world design is incredibly basic, rarely shifting from the norm of moving from left to right. We cannot fault it for this as The Mooseman is designed to be an educational experience, therefore it serves its purpose whilst also providing some hidden areas for the completionist in all of us. However it can become quite tiresome, resulting us to be thankful for an auto-walking mechanic.
This is where we begin to question who this game is targeted towards. If you are someone who only likes fast-paced gaming, or even someone who likes a challenge (whether it challenges your reflexes or wit), then this game may not be for you. But if you are wanting a break from all that, or are more of a casual gamer, the The Mooseman may be a purchase to consider.
Music / Sound Design
The soundtrack in The Mooseman is implemented through ambient sound effects whilst exploring the educationally visual experience. When listening closely, you are able to identify instruments that would have been used back in this period, along with natural sounds of wind, water and earth. It truly brings the world to life.
The music also shifts when appropriate. High-tense situations result in the tempo increasing along with the use of heavier instruments, whilst quieter moments generally rely on the sounds of nature, therefore removing the melody.
There are moments where the music perfectly encapsulates the mood of what is happening on screen, truly creating some awe-inspiring moments. Visually and audibly are where The Mooseman truly shines, and it is this presentation as to why we regard it as highly as we do.
Final Score 77%
The Mooseman is a visually stunning game that aims to teach you the history of tribes long passed. When played leisurely, it takes just as long as most average length feature films would, making the game a perfect experience for an evening at home.
It must be stressed that The Mooseman is a very casual experience and is not a game for those looking for a challenge. It is made purely for its spectacle and educational purposes, therefore this game (despite its score) cannot be recommended to everyone. But if you’re in the mood for something relaxing and intriguing, then The Mooseman may just be one to consider.
Will you be picking up The Mooseman? What are your thoughts on this game? Let us know in the Comments section below.