Mushroom 11 is a unique, refreshing and lovely platformer marred by frustrating difficulty spikes and occasional unpleasant design, but you should really play it.
If you’ve not heard of it by now, in Mushroom 11 you are a green blob of amorphous…stuff, in an apocalyptic wasteland. Moving through a backdrop of gorgeously painted 2D art, showing the devastation and burnt out world around you, you must navigate through the world (some of it still alive and kicking, literally) and make your way through each stage. There are physics puzzles, instant death traps and collectables to snap up. So far, so indie platformer.
The difference here is in how you move around. There’s no jumping, and not even direct control of your movement left and right. Using your mouse, you wipe away parts of the blob you control. Delete its left side and it’ll grow on the right, moving you in that direction. Need to grow taller? Wipe out your bottom and you’ll grow out on top pushing you upwards. It’s the kind of thing that’s better to understand on video, so watch the launch below trailer instead.
Each level has its own theme (lava, industrial etc) and with that a variety of navigation puzzles. Most of these delight, and get you thinking in ways you’ve never had to in a platformer before. As the game reaches Chapter 5 (of 8) however, the puzzles become a bit of a chore. Trial and error death traps, some of which I lucked out passing as I couldn’t figure the ‘real’ way to get through myself. The checkpoints are generous at least, but also frustrate as collectables are governed by them as well. Many of these are positioned in very difficult to reach places which require time and effort to obtain, and are often followed by an obstacle which can kill you. Die after finally reaching one and you’ll have to do it all over again until you make it to the next checkpoint. It’s annoying.
It’s frustrating because it’s such a wonderful idea, and mostly a delight to play, that these game design issues prevent it from being something truly special. Many years in the making, I had hoped this would have been a refined experience with issues like this left at the door. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite there, but I really do recommend giving it a play. Maybe one to wait for a Steam sale though.