In a time before our own, a god named Yen created the world from an eggshell. This world possessed three layers within it, also known as ‘worlds’. The Lower, Middle and Upper ‘worlds’. Each layer possessed different beings within them. Ancient gods occupied the upper world. Man, who reside in the middle world. And spirits of the dead who dwell in the lower world.
As a Shaman, otherwise known as the Mooseman, you have the ability to see what the normal man cannot, the spirit world. With this ability, players will depart on a journey of a lifetime through the three layers of the universe and uncover the secrets and ancient myths, as well as solve the mysteries of finno-ugric (European & North Asia) tales.
In truth, The Mooseman is a game that has to be experienced rather than told about, by its players. The game is filled with an abundance of artwork spread across its backdrops as players move along its levels. From dramatic, rough and dark forests and caves, to a contrasting, fine and brightly lit sky, littered with clouds and the suns rays. If anything, The Mooseman is indeed many artists’ dream. Combine this dream with the often melodious and sometimes dynamic soundtrack within the game and you have something incredible. This, however, is not every player’s dream, and where the game falls short is unfortunately where many may either drop out or push on.
In retrospect, The Mooseman is a 2D side-scroller. However, unlike most side-scrollers, players are limited in their movements, forcing players to walk the entire way. Even during boss encounters. The developers have added a feature to assist players in double tapping their directional pads to make the character walk automatically, allowing the player to sit back and enjoy the
ride walk until they reach an enemy or obstacle. The character’s feet actually never lift from the ground, unless you fall into a pit. There are instances where the character will be raised into the air but this is not by the choice of the player but rather what occurs within the game. And yet even with these limitations, the game still finds ways to throw challenges and enemies at you. For instance, players will eventually acquire a light within their staff to fend off spirits that approach them, this is, however, a once-off activation and you’ll have to try and run walk away to ‘recharge’ before taking on another enemy. Some enemies cannot be defeated by the light though, so the player is forced to use the environment and figure out how to utilise their surroundings or spirits that are willing to assist them in progressing past the evil spirits. Players can also switch their view from the normal world to the spirit world to acquire access to a path that may be inaccessible in one world but not in the other. Enemies and hidden pathways aren’t the only obstacles that players will encounter though, the game has quite a number of puzzles to solve, just don’t expect much of a challenge from them as most if not all can be figured out within five or less minutes.
Unlike most side-scrollers, players are limited in their movements, forcing players to walk the entire way.
All in all, The Mooseman was a short-lived game for me that had nothing stand out in terms of gameplay itself, but rather offered me quite a unique experience. Yes, this is a video game but unfortunately at the same time feels more as if it embodies the soul of a well-told story or myth passed down through generations in a way for its listeners or readers to interact with more than just watching or listening. Admittedly, I could say that this is a walking simulator and the experience it gave me through its harmonious music and mesmerising backdrops was well worth my time. Even if that time may have been two hours. Even in this short time, I know that this will still fall short for many in holding their interests to push on. However, if you are to experience the full length and passion that the developers put into The Mooseman, I would highly recommend that you make the time to read through the scriptures and myths that the game offers throughout your playthrough. Along with the gorgeous backgrounds and superb soundtrack, this adds to the depth of the game, offering players a deep, moving and thought-provoking story. The pace, unfortunately, remains incredibly slow at the walking speed of what seems like a snail, but with the game never holding your hand and if you do take my advice and read through the myths, The Mooseman will grant you an emotionally satisfying journey through a world that I guarantee you’ve not been to before.