No matter what way you cut it, there are seldom games that put themselves up for display as a piece of art. Among these games comes Mooseman, a game that wants to world to see its story, to know the legend it has to tell us.
It’s not often you get a chance to sit down and see an interactive piece of art come to life. Sometimes, just sometimes, these games somehow manage to slip through the cracks faster than one may expect. These games are often constructed pieces of self-expression by a collective of artists who have gotten together to bring their single vision to live as an interactive piece of art.
Whichever way you look at it, video games by default are a form of art. Each one is constructed to convey a development teams vision as artisans. When you get games that take this approach as to self-express themselves or tell a story, some of them, just some of them, use history as their main point of focus.
With this approach in mind, Mooseman from the Russia-based duo Vladimir Beletsky and Mikhail Shvachko. In order to teach us something new, Beletsky and Shvachko tell us of the Russian Perm tribe in ways never-before-seen with folklore, art, and music of a culture forgotten by most of the world. Their approach to it is incredible and it offers a unique approach into systems pertaining to puzzles, riddles, and unique storytelling methods.
In The Mooseman, you take on the role of the Mooseman, a mythological figure that plays a rather large role within the spirituality of the Perm people. The Mooseman is a being whose journey comes in three different ways, each as a different part of the universe as they know it. In The Mooseman, this aspect is brought to life in the sense that players will phase in and out of the physical and spiritual planes.
Impressive enough is the fact that quite a lot happens within your 3-4 hour adventure, so-much-so that you will be surprised by the depth of the game itself. The story itself, even the adventures that come with it bare some wonderful surprises as the story gets underway. While wandering left or right on the screen and switching between the planes makes up most of the experience, you will find that things do change up a bit with puzzles, lethal threats, and potential hazards.
In the game, you will find that the puzzles themselves are nothing more than little things such as guiding a bug in the spirit realm over a gap or away from it to keep an undead horde from making their way to you. Other things can include randomly taking on boss encounters that will appear with puzzles that must be completed in order to eliminate them.
While puzzles appear in the form of the boss fights, you’ll notice that some appear as pathways you will need to open up by crossing between one plane or the other. But you won’t be in those zones very long, due to how the duo developed the game, you’ll want to move on through each of the distinctively designed areas, each one offering their own unique experience and sights to be had.
Through pencil lines, a greyscale palet and some very well done hand-drawn scenery or perhaps the folk-inspired picture book like-look, the game comes to life as a living and breathing story. It’s one that provokes thought, attention and immersion as authentic Komi folk music plays in the background. Let alone does the Komi-Permian music play, as does the dialect as you progress and the narrator speaks to describe the events happening before you.
Platforms: PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Vladimir Beletsky, Mikhail Shvachko
Publisher: Sometimes You
Release Date: Available Now
When brought to a conclusion, The Mooseman is a delightful interactive storybook that tells of a people and their unique story through an interactive medium that’s rarely used, not often seen in games and could open up a future for other titles like itself. For now, however, The Mooseman will remain a unique game, one for fans to enjoy over the years to come and should serve as a reminder of how beautiful and artistically designed video games and interactive media can be.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.