I’ve never really been spiritual, which is surprising for someone who is so calm and residing. The ability to see and feel another world as you transport yourself sounds like a fantasy. Similarly, The Mooseman is all about a mythological character who can do exactly that and visit different layers of the universe and see things that are hidden to the mortal eye.
The Mooseman is an 2D adventure side-scroller set in the mysterious lands of Perm chud’ tribes. The mysterious character that the Mooseman is comes from the developers, Morteshka – who have a love for mystery and culture, which shows throughout.
Most strikingly is the game’s art style, which ops for a dark theme with the game predominantly set in dense forests casting shadows filling the screen. Enemies and item of interest of interest are highlighted using white, much like Playdead’s Limbo.
There are other similarities to Limbo as well such as the game’s environment based puzzles which may involve moving a log to form a bridge or pushing a mound of mud to act as a ramp to avoid enraged enemies or access a platform. All in all, the challenges presented to you are fairly straight forwarded to solve and within 6-8 hours you shouldn’t have any issues finishing The Mooseman.
There’s limited replay value here, but The Mooseman is an enjoyable experience to play, even if you only play it once. I think it would be fair to say the developers don’t see it as anything more than that though. It’s presented more as a visual journey for something that really interests the 2 developers in terms of the topic and concept.
Although the game does have things like glypths to collect, which are ever so troublesome to view due to the unhelpful UI on the collectibles screen. That would be my only quarrel with the visuals, and that’s its presentation of in-game menus.
Focussing more on gameplay, most of the game plays as an illuminated cave painting, as when you press the ‘A’ button, you’ll see another layer of the universe with glypths and symbols on trees and in the background. A lot of the puzzles also use your ability to see the hidden, such as a snake like creature dragging a rock in the other universe can be moved to allow you to progress. It’s a simple puzzle with some thought gone into how it can be linked with the game’s theme of being mystical.
It can also feel quite eerie, with white ghost like faces painted on-screen hanging from trees and in the shadows when you’re using your special shaman powers. It actually gave me chills throughout quieter sections when I wasn’t being chased by a fearless creature.
In general, puzzles are very much environmental and utilise your power to see things mortals can’t. Threats are avoided by finding an alternative path or by hiding, which once again draws upon the influence of Limbo. There’s nothing to defend yourself with or any form of attacking, you’re helpless, other than being clever and quick on your reactions to switch layers to avoid any threats.
If you do happen to get caught then you’ll simply respawn back to one of the generous checkpoints. The Mooseman isn’t a title that will leave you red in the face with frustration, but more immersed in intrigue, which is a welcomed addition to the genre.
The Mooseman is interesting to play and brings a glimmer of Limbo-esque gameplay to the table. I would however, be more inclined to replay Limbo as I have done before, whereas The Mooseman is just missing that something in its gameplay that makes me want to enjoy the challenges it has to offer.