Of Mice and Moggies
Age Rating: U
Release Date: 23/02/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
How I Get to Tend the Rabbits…
As Rapid Reviews’ resident cat lady, Of Mice and Moggies was directed my way and I gladly took it! The cute pixel art of forest critters combined with the puzzle genre is what caught my attention, as well as the nods to literature in its title and the Animals of Farthing Wood homage in the artwork.
So did this game leave me with a happy ending, or did it end as badly as Of Mice and Men?
Trouble With Mice is You Always Kill ’em
In Of Mice and Moggies, you are a cat hunting for your next meal. This ranges from mice, rabbits and even lizards. Situated on a grid with a top-down view, you have to pounce on them in as few moves as possible to gain a better score. However, it is not that simple.
Each animal has a specific way of moving across the board when you approach them. For example, mice move one space forward, rabbits hop forward two and lizards will run continuously until something blocks their path. I found it really helpful that you could access explanations for the mechanics, as it was nice to have a handy reminder to aid you in solving the puzzle!
An’ Live Off the Fatta the Lan’
What makes it more challenging is that you must use objects in the environment too. Rocks, bushes, water and spider webs, they can all be used to your advantage or land you in trouble. Cornering animals against a rock or trapping them in a web is a great way to catch your prey. But, when certain animals can do things you can’t, such as run in bushes or hop over rocks, your logic is really put to the test.
Let’s use this screenshot as an example. If you approach the mouse from behind, he can step on the turtle and not disturb it. But try and move towards him again and he will run off the map, causing you to restart. However, if a cat goes on the turtle, it disappears once you step off. That space will then just be water, which the mouse can’t cross. So, this is what you need to do in order to trap the mouse.
Being more of a creative person than a logical one, I did find it more difficult than others would. I think it is a good level of challenge though, and the devs have stated the focus is on being smart rather than a ridiculous level of difficulty. It certainly gets your brain ticking! The easy control scheme allows you to focus on the task at hand too, using trial and error with the option to effortlessly restart.
The Rabbits Sat as Quietly as Little Gray, Sculptured Stones…
The pixel art style worked well with the cute animals, their bodies bobbing up and down but not distracting at all. It let me focus on where each animal was and contemplate how to navigate each one. I also really liked the animations, the lizard using his tongue to catch a fly every now and then, and the cat’s shocked expression when his hunt escapes. What was a little sad and morbid were the dead animals with their crossed eyes and their look of terror when you cornered them…maybe not the best for an animal lover!
Though I liked the natural colour palette, I thought the colours were a little dull. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but they needed something bolder. You could argue this isn’t that important when the puzzles are the priority. I think what could have helped was using the different biomes from the map in the actual levels. Instead, they were all the same green grass which became a little boring.
The main screen had a cheery tune playing, but in-game they were only sound effects playing. Bird calls, insect noises and even a cat’s purr; it was quite unusual, and I can’t decide whether I liked it. On the one hand, you didn’t have any music to affect your concentration. On the other, some relaxing music could have helped compared to the random squawking of creatures.
We Got a Future
Though the visuals look pretty much the same throughout Of Mice and Moggies, the puzzles do vary enough that it doesn’t feel repetitive. You’re constantly taking on what you’ve learned and expanding on it. No solution is ever the same, tackling the mechanics of different animals within one level. Each area helps you master a specific animal and the more difficult levels are marked too. You can also pick and choose which section you do, so you can come back to harder levels. This definitely felt less restrictive, rather than being unable to progress if you were stuck!
Tackling these levels earns you medals, and in doing so increases your level on your ‘Cat License’. I’m not entirely sure what this means, but it possibly earns you the Special medals. This adds to the replayability, especially as you can strive to complete puzzles in as few a moves as possible. Personally, it’s not enough of an incentive for me to keep replaying levels. I’m quite happy to simply solve them.
Something else that may have players returning is the level editor. You can make your own level, which has a lot of handy instructions to get you started. It does require a lot of thinking and logic though to create your own puzzles! My little brain couldn’t comprehend how to make a puzzle and know its solutions, but I think others will enjoy this. I much preferred playing others’ in the community levels. At the time of writing the game hasn’t been released, so there are very few to play. I definitely think it has potential though!
That Mouse Ain’t Fresh
Overall, Of Mice and Moggies is a creative puzzle game that keeps from getting stale with its build-up of different mechanics. It’s all about using what you’ve learned to progress, without being overwhelmingly difficult. A lot of people will enjoy this level of challenge, particularly logical thinkers. I am extremely impressed that this is Bippinbits’ first game, and I am looking forward to seeing where they go next!
I did find it quite hard, and each puzzle took me a fairly long time to solve. Though there is the challenge of lowering your moves to come back to, it’s probably not something I will do. As mentioned, a variety in the design would have been welcome and some boldness to the colours would have made it stand out.
Of Mice and Moggies didn’t quite grip me, down to the fact that I found it beyond my skills! But I think others who love logical puzzles will find pleasure in it and it’s worth a go. There’s a solid couple of hours of content in the main levels, and something more to do with the level editor and the community levels. Who knows, it may be the purrfect puzzler for you!