Performing as a 2D indie game The Mooseman is more than just an exploration game. Shrouded with myths and historical stories The Mooseman is a powerful story of cultural and ethereal significance in a world dominated by spirits.
The narrative begins when a shaman of a tribe is selected to travel through three layers of the world, interacting with the Komi spirits and forgotten Gods of old. Wearing the skull of a Moose the Mooseman can interact with the Komi spirits in the spiritual world and progress though the game by removing his mask to explore the mortal world.
As a 2D puzzler The Mooseman moves through levels slipping between the fragments that divide the mortal and spirit world as the game progresses. Each world has its own environmental structure as well as flora and fauna, meaning The Mooseman will have to equip and remove his mask accordingly to remove the obstacles that block his path.
Whilst the game play is simplistic it’s the visuals which entice the audience and keep them playing. Painted in a near-neo monochromatic palate The Mooseman oozes art. The backgrounds are enhanced with depth with teal coloration’s amidst the grey’s and blacks, which create bold standout environments leaving an permanent impression on the player.
As the Mooseman moves between the three layers of the world the environment evolves around him. The lower levels of the game are home to the dead, filled with dark tunnels and caves that are bathed with shafts of light and the souls of the spirits who live there. Once the Mooseman traverses into the upper levels of the game he is greeted with desolate plains, carved by violence, guarded by violent spirits who will kill the Mooseman should they discover his presence. For such a short game the variety in environments is high, meaning the game feels longer and more in-depth than it actually is.
The world continues to be breath-taking for the duration of the game, with music being as powerful as the graphics. The soundtrack beautifully compliments the nature of this indie with wood wind instruments creating a peaceful aura during times of calm but, a change in pace and pitch has a noticeable effect on the atmosphere. When rare enemies do appear there is a sudden change in urgency in the game, propelled even further by the sense of hurry carried though the musical score of the game.
The majority of the Mooseman’s slow journey through a variety of landscapes is undertaken in solitude, with the spirits of the dead for the most part being the shamans only companions. However there are threats scattered in each layer that the Mooseman must outwit. Deaths are frequent in the game, but serve to teach the player how to better face each scenario, and although death is common, fast re-spawn times prevent this aspect of gameplay becoming frustrating and bothersome.
Narrative of the game is largely ambiguous, but the story can be patched together through the discovery of artefacts and collectables. Upon reading the descriptions of these items lore about the Komi tribe as well as solutions to puzzles can be uncovered. Between each chapter’s narrative is spoken in a foreign tongue with English narration on top of the text, this deepens the lore of The Mooseman and makes the entire indie game more set in its myths and legends.
Perhaps the only downside to The Mooseman is its repetitive nature paired with short running time. Each of the puzzles have the same solution and are only made unique by location and enemy patrols. Though this spiritual game was never made to be a true challenging puzzler, riddles and puzzles present towards the end of the game feel marginally tedious which can cause this short game to drag.
The Mooseman is a thought-provoking insight into the myths of old, with flourishing environments, entrancing soundtracks and visually stunning set design, The Mooseman is a trip into the past that you don’t want to miss.
*review code was received in exchange of a honest review*