The Mooseman Review

By Mike Sousa on July 18, 2018

In recent years, several game developers have taken inspiration from various mythologies when developing games, whether it’s a case of using said mythologies as a setting for a game, or where the purpose of the game is more to have players learn more about a certain mythology. The Mooseman is an example of the latter, as players will embark on a journey in this atmospheric 2D adventure where they will learn more about the Russian Perm chud’ tribes and their culture.

Players take on the role of the Mooseman, a mythological character from Perm, who is about to visit three layers of this universe. He has the ability to see all that is hidden to the mortal eye, and this ability of his, which allows him to switch back and forth between planes; this plays a major role in solving pretty much every puzzle you came across.

Throughout most of your journey, the ability to switch between planes is the only ability you will have, and you have to use it to surpass all obstacles that come into your path. For example, in one realm you could have a gap in your path that leads to certain death, while in another realm there’s a bridge that allows you to cross safely. Of course, you will come across puzzles that are more challenging than this, but for the most part they aren’t really that complex, and taking in consideration the whole idea behind the game, it was a good decision by the developers.

You will also run across spirits, animals and people that will try to kill you. Seeing as you don’t have any way to attack or defend yourself, you will have to once again rely on the Mooseman’s ability. Usually with enemies, things get a bit more tricky, as unlike puzzles, where you have time to think about the current situation, these encounters require you to act quickly. For example, when enemies are coming for you, you can switch planes in order to make a rock disappear, quickly stand on the place where the rock was, switch planes again, and you are now inside the rock and protected from enemies while you wait for them to leave the area. In addition to normal enemies, the game also features a few boss fights that will put players to the test. Just like the game’s puzzles, boss fights aren’t that difficult, but they add some nice variety to the whole experience.

Even with all these puzzles and enemies you came across, The Mooseman feels like you are reading a book or looking at a work of art; the overall atmosphere of the game does a great job in immesering the player in this world. Although the game tries to offer some exposure to this culture and mythology, it doesn’t do so in the most excellent of ways. While there are some clever references here and there, especially in boss fights, where you will learn more is through optional artifacts. While most of these aren’t particularly hard to find, these break the flow of the experience, as each time you find a new one you need to go into the menus in order to read it. Considering how short the experience is (takes around 2 hours to finish the game) and how many of these collectables there are (over 50), it’s a shame the developers didn’t find a better way to implement all this information, whether through gameplay or some sort of narration.

Visually, The Mooseman is without a doubt a game with a gorgeous presentation and art style. Thanks to the hand drawn visuals, everything from silhouettes to landscapes looks really good and detailed, and manage to capture the feeling and mystery behind this world and all its mythologies. The soundtrack also does a fantastic job, with music, instruments and different sound effects fitting each moment almost perfectly. The soundtrack shifts its tone when appropriate, which helps players feel even more immersed in this small adventure.

Final Thoughts

Overall, The Mooseman is an enjoyable experience that puts the spotlight on some mythologies and cultures that the average person might not be aware or have knowledge of. With simple puzzles and the amazing atmosphere it provides, the game takes players on an educational and relaxing journey that will certainly please fans of the genre or people interested in learning more about this culture. While it’s true that part of this mythology is “hidden” behind text, something that breaks the flow of the experience, the game’s positive aspects make up for it.

The Mooseman was reviewed using a PS4 Digital Code provided by Sometimes You. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
Entertaining story that sheds some light on Perm chud’ tribes and their culture.
Simple puzzles and clever boss battles.
Beautiful hand drawn visuals and excellent soundtrack.
Much of the mythology is told through text rather than gameplay.
It's a relatively short game.
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