Mugsters Review: Follow the Leader
Kalvin Martinez / Aug 10th, 2018 No Comments
Mugsters is a fascinating game. Like all puzzle games, it asks you to use your wits to solve problems. However, its marriage of striking art style and cool physics creates fun gameplay that constantly has you wondering how to solve its unique puzzles.
Curious and Curiouser
Mugsters can be a dizzying and disorienting experience because there are no certainties in it. You can’t get your bearings because you’re thrown right into the thick of things. Context is at a premium in Mugsters and can only be parsed as you progress. No matter what grip you think you have on the situation, it quickly becomes obvious that you probably don’t.
That’s OK though. You don’t need to understand why things are happening in Mugsters, you just need to know what you can and can’t do, and what you absolutely should avoid. Mugsters is the purest expression of learn as you do — you may not know what you can do until you try it.
Experimenting and getting creative is kind of the point of Mugsters. Having trouble avoiding giant alien ships hell bent on sucking you up? Try using a helicopter or hot air ballon to lure it to water and drown it. Perhaps the best solution is using a nest or robotic rats to kill some rage-driven mutants with two heads, not your fists or explosives. Maybe turning a car into a bomb is the best way to hit a switch or knock down a wall. You won’t know until you try.
What you can expect without exceptions is the ability to run, jump, carry and punch things, as well as being able to utilize vehicles. You will always have to gather crystals and save survivors while trying to complete an objective for a nebulous reason. There is always going to be an airplane that you need to reach to complete the island you are exploring.
Mutants, flying saucers, nests and automatons both big and small are all dangerous, so you should be careful of them and figure out how to trick them or destroy them. How you accomplish this can range in severity and magnitude. Sometimes it is as simple as punching a mutant to death, but it could also be throwing an explosive barrel at them and praying your aim is true. Other times, you might be able to avoid danger completely.
Scoping out an island before worrying about saving anyone, collecting crystals or doing any major task is a good idea. Mugsters has fantastic level design. All the islands share commonalities, but each one feels different. More importantly, the deeper you get into each island, the more complex and dangerous they become.
Getting a lay of the land only benefits your ability to be successful. You can figure out what dangers you need to take care of, how many survivors you need to rescue, where crystals are located, what resources are at your disposal and, quite honestly, what the task you’re being asked to do is. Then, it comes down to you being able to outwit and outmaneuver whatever may come your way.
Vehicles are the most fun aspect of Mugsters and what makes puzzle solving so volatile. They handle like a rhino in an ice rink, moving bizarrely with twitchy physics. You’re going to do some wild s**t with them, no matter how hard you try not to.
The unreliability of vehicles is where you can experiment the most. The sheer variety of vehicles means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do some crazy nonsense and find new ways to utilize vehicles in puzzle solving.
Mugsters is short on direct answers: you start out in a giant hub island filled with bizarre machinery that has mysterious purposes; one looks like a rollercoaster with a track heading off the island, but who is supposed to use it and why is unclear. The other machine is connected to a bunch of buttons, each numbered 1-24 with a 25 numbered machine attached at the very end.
Its function is obvious almost immediately. These buttons are portals to different islands where you’ll need to complete tasks. By completing a certain number of these challenges, you’ll unlock more islands to travel to. The purpose is still hard to ascertain except for the fact that you’re saving other humans from containment tubes and avoiding what appears to be alien technology.
All the tasks seem random at first, but the more you see of these alien beings, the more clear it becomes that you are there to sabotage these alien forces. Why you’re doing it is still a question, but isn’t it humankind’s natural inclination to stop aliens?
Even though the whys and wherefores of the islands is hard to discern, it doesn’t matter. Mugsters is so engrossing and fun that you are just happy to do things.
Mugsters is a wholly unique puzzler experience. It is one thing to see it, but another to experience it. You need to play it to understand exactly why it is hard to put down.
Mugsters was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
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