In the last 18 months I have been really impressed with the diversity of the games coming from TEAM 17 and each time they release something new it grabs my curiosity to see what they have come up with next. Mugsters is a title that actually slipped under my radar so was even more intrigued to see what it had to offer. To say it was surprising would be an understatement.
Going into Mugsters not really know what to expect was not helped by actually getting into the game and not being told really what to do. I am all for games not relying on hand holding to explain too much and discovering how to play and what to do can give the player a great level of satisfaction and Mugsters is certainly a game where it leaves the players to work out what to do and how to go about getting things done.
Mugsters is based on an Earth where aliens have basically invaded and you the player find yourself on different small islands with the main objective of finding the plane and getting away to freedom. Now that would be fairly boring so there are additional objectives on each island to complete such as finding all the survivors dotted around, finding and collecting mysterious green crystals and sometimes the objective of blowing up equipment such as satellite dishes and generators. What did come as a surprise is that these are optional side objectives and you are free to find the plane and leave to progress further but you can replay an island multiple times so you can learn the locations of the objective items and plan accordingly even if it takes a few tries to learn the puzzle solutions so if one crystal or survivor for example is out of reach, you can prevent getting too frustrated by simply doing what you can and jumping on the escape plane and simply return to replay that island area another time.
Visually Mugsters is quite a barebones affair, but it is one that I actually liked. Colour pallet remains the same throughout and everything has an old school basic design with blocky vehicles and environments. It is all rather minimalist but then it really doesn’t need to bring Witcher 3 level graphics to what is a game based on exploring the area to find how to collect or destroy what needs to be done on that island. I was a big fan of immediately being able to put a Superman style cape on my character and if you leave your character standing still for too long, they have a fun set of animations to perform until you are ready to pick up the controller and carry on. Driving the vehicles instantly reminded me of playing the original top down versions of GTA and there are many different types of vehicles to find and drive in the game although trying to fly the escape plane safely from the island was a little troublesome at first.
A nice feature is when you bring a friend along for the ride and start a co-op game. In co-op the islands will adjust to the fact there are two players now and will add in additional puzzles that will require teamwork and sensible communication skills in order to complete all the objectives. Both players are free to explore on their own however this tends to make the main camera view zoom out a lot and it can be difficult to see the area clearly. There is always something about trying to solve a puzzle whilst suddenly having your partner drive a vehicle right into you or for them to set off an explosion before you manage to get to a safe distance. This level of tomfoolery can be a welcome distraction from completing the objectives over and over again which can become a little tedious despite the addition of more complicated level designs and puzzles to master. This issue also creeps into the solo version of the game where repeating the same objectives over and over becomes a little frustrating making this a game I could only play for short sessions.
Mugsters is a fun physics based puzzle game which comes alive when playing with a friend in co-op but as a solo player experience can be a great game to just dip in and out of to relax and solve some puzzle environments for a bit. Although the gameplay can get rather repetitive it does offer time trials for every island for those who like to perfect their performance and the online leader-boards offer enough inspiration to keep trying until you get it right. Encountering the Aliens on their UFOs is an exciting experience and overall Mugsters is just a fun game for those who like the freedom to learn how a game works and to solve puzzles. Perhaps one to grab in a Sale rather than rushing out to grab now.
With so many big named AAA titles about to unleash on the gaming world, Mugsters does just enough to be worth a look for a change in game experience and the ability to revisit and improve your times and performance on all the islands will keep players returning time and again.