The Mooseman – A game about a demigod traversing between worlds, while discovering ancient myths? “Sign me up!” was the first thought that ran through my mind as I perused through the game’s description. As a myth buff, my interest was peaked when I learnt that this would deal with mythological elements that are obscure, or have been lost to the ages.
The Mooseman follows a half man, half god as he visits the three layers of the universe. He is aided by the ability to instantly move between two dimensions, presumably the world of the Living and the world of Spirits. You begin in the Lower World, where the dead dwell, and then work your way up to the Middle World, where humans reside, and finally the Upper World, the realm of the gods.
The narrative of the game is presented alongside the Mooseman’s travels, beginning with the origin of the universe, while slowly building up to the events after the creation of the world.
As the journey continues, we discover the stories of how the world functions, and how the characters in the past shape the events of the present. This method of narration works exceptionally to the game’s favour, as it lends to the mystery and intrigue which drives the game forward.
Towards the final act of the game, the narrative converges to the real reason behind the Mooseman’s adventure, as well as his identity. It is not a twist however, but more like the final clue that enables us to connect the dots.
The myth of the game is rooted in the animal style myths of the Komi-Permians, Komi-Zyrians, Mansi, and the Saamic people (essentially, the Finno-Ugric culture). They are presented beautifully, with meticulous descriptions complemented by intricate visuals.
Additionally, the entire narration is in the Komi-Permian language, which helps in maintaining the atmosphere of the game, while staying true to its roots. The world of the game is rich and diverse, while maintaining a certain sense of simplicity.
The gameplay of The Mooseman is rather simple: you are only required to move and shift between dimensions, as and when you are required. Another ability comes into play later on in the game, and that’s pretty much it. Different things can be observed, depending on what dimension you’re in.
At first sight, it looks as if all you are required to do is walk from one end to the other while avoiding obstacles altercations with mythological beings. This perception is soon crushed, as puzzles appear.
The game has two types of puzzles: ones that are required to advance through the journey, and ones that uncover ancient artifacts. Some of the artifacts don’t require puzzles to solve, and can be acquired through normal means. However, some of them are required to progress through the story. Each artifact comes with its own description and a painting, and are quite interesting to read through.
Most of the puzzles aren’t very difficult to solve, since their solutions can be found through a simple observation of the surroundings. The mechanics can sometimes be frustrating, as the timing is hard to get right in some cases, while some combinations require very precise movements.
Character Design and Artwork
The Mooseman seemingly features art that is entirely hand drawn, with the colours sort of being “brushed on”. This wondrous style works entirely to the game’s favour, as it keeps in line with the mysterious and archaic nature. The palette features a limited number of colours, but is in no way a demerit.
The mythological beings all feature their own unique designs, and the art style indicates the nature of the being, which is a truly satisfying experience.
The background art and scenery feels as if it’s created by a painter, immersing the player in this arcane world. The contrasts between the three Worlds is wonderfully presented, and the locations that the character travels through is something to behold.
The soundtrack is based on the folk music of the Komi people. It’s interesting how the music blends in with the changing dynamics of the game. The soundtrack manages to set the mood in each of the situations that the game delivers. The intriguing nature of each discovery made is well complemented by the soundtrack.
The Mooseman is a hidden gem amongst 2D games. Although the duration is less than two hours, it still manages to captivate the player, while effectively delivering an interesting narrative.