Let me get this out there right away, Mugsters is great fun and everyone should try it. It explains very little from the off and encourages so much experimentation with its sandbox that to not have fun just seems wrong. Mugsters is the new game from Reinkout Games and publishers Team 17 and they have a hit on their hands.
It plonks you on an island, doesn’t tell you the controls and leaves a ton of toys lying around. There are cars, planes, buses and vans – the classic red exploding barrel features prominently and you’re encouraged to tackle each of the 25 levels any way you want. You can even tackle each of them with a co-op buddy, on the couch and you can cause as much mayhem as you like.
There is no story or real explanation as to why you are her, but that really isn’t important. Your job is to fight aliens, save the humans, grab the crystals and figure out how to do each of the random objectives you’re set. All the while, you need to avoid UFOs and try to not blow yourself up. The game is pure distilled fun, even more so when you add a friend.
The extra objectives are pretty basic and usually involve blowing things up. Occasionally you’re tasked with lining up laser beams to activate machines.
You control a little white stick figure, you can pick various items up and throw them about and you can tear around the islands in a variety of vehicles. Simple switch puzzles, destructible scenery and physics puzzles are the order of the day and you’re just left to it. You’ll get into fist fights, you’ll run things over and you’ll blow a lot of stuff up. Crashing your van through a wall and then running amok never gets old. In fact my favourite thing is to drive your vehicle at high speed towards a laser tower and bail out without telling your friend, then laughing hysterically as he and said tower explode into a million pieces.
The isometric camera gives a great overview of the play area and never gets in the way of the action. Graphically it’s simple yet effective, with colourful environments that your character really stands out against. The soundtrack isn’t amazing but again, it’s simple and unintrusive.
It’s refreshing to play something that gives you so much freedom and doesn’t feel the need to hold your hand. However, it is very easy and only by experimenting and getting carried away with the madness did I find myself dying. It’s rarely frustrating even though some of the bigger enemies will do their best to ruin your fun.
It doesn’t demand perfection and returning to an island means you only need to collect the things you missed first time round. If you got two out of the three humans and only a few crystals, no worries, go back in and collect the rest later. It’s very good at not gating progress. In fact the only level that really threw me was the last one because the puzzle is far removed from everything else you’ve done up to that point.
Mugsters is also relatively bug free which is a rarity these days. I only had a few moments where AI would get caught on scenery. I can also count on one hand the number of times things fell through the environment.
I really can’t say it enough, this is pure unadulterated fun. The simplicity encourages a great deal of experimentation and there are a variety of ways levels can be completed. It’s fun messing with the physics and exploring the small islands and you can tackle it all at your own pace. If you want something that’s cleverly constructed and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome I can’t recommend Mugsters enough. I’m off to crash some more cars and blow up some more aliens.