Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

Envious and talented competitors have been trying to break the horns of Limbo since its release back in 2010. However, only the Danes from Playdead (I’m talking about Inside, of course) managed to produce a product of the same kind and quality. It was all the more interesting to follow the development of the “Russian answer to Limbo”, The Mooseman, and finally get acquainted with the game, littered with predatory skeletons and bristling with bone forests.

The underworld in The Mooseman got the best episodes. But the abode of people and heaven are presented in fits and starts.

Moose erectus

The Mooseman, or in Russian “Man”, was invented and implemented by Vladimir Beletsky from Perm, hiding behind a studio with the wonderful name Morteshka. “Platform Adventure” was being prepared for almost two years – apparently, without too much haste and with a meticulous study of museum values.

The game is a kind of transcription of the legends of the small peoples of the Komi, Saami and Mansi, and the plot inserts are even voiced in Komi. The starting point for the author was archaeological finds – examples of the so-called Permian animal style. So the entry threshold in this case is high, which instantly narrows the already small audience of connoisseurs of Limbo, Typoman and Never Alone.

Elk Yong, the creator of the universe and people, according to the folklore story, had seven sons-shamans – those very human-hairs from the name. Endowed with the divine powers of their parent, they are able to move between reality and the dimension of spirits. The first god Yen himself once killed an animal that was carrying the sun on it during a hunt. The luminary collapsed into hell, and the planet was on the verge of an apocalypse. Since then, the offspring of Yen have been descending one by one into the underworld to get a pinch of fire. Day after day…

The path behind the fragments of the sun is long – you need to walk the lower, middle and upper worlds. The greatest attention is paid to the afterlife – here we are met by the gigantic bear Osh, a kind of Cerberus, the spider Cheran with seventy-seven eyes (the elder brother Shelob, not otherwise!) And the red-eyed dead, bogged down in the river Sir-Yu, full of rotten flesh. Needless to say, what he saw is much more impressive than the dry expositions of local history museums.

A couple of mysteries are connected with the big-eyed pillars.

Our shaman slowly wanders from left to right against the backdrop of fabulous 2D backdrops – despite the modest range, the artist succeeded in penetrating landscapes. Due to the fact that the turtle step of a man-moose can be made automatic and move away from the keyboard while calmly drinking tea, The Mooseman has become an object of ridicule even at the demo stage. “Walking Simulator”, however, is not without interactivity – over time, the hero gets the opportunity to light the staff, driving away evil spirits, and acquires a bow for a short period. The winter taiga, where it is allowed to shoot at wolves, is one of the most beautiful locations, dear to the heart of a Siberian who personally got stuck in forest snowdrifts and saw snow-white hares alive.

The core of The Mooseman’s gameplay is solving puzzles. Having passed into the ghostly world, the shaman makes the boulders move (or rather, what we consider to be boulders), making a shelter for himself or crossing the abyss. Komi pagans, fishermen and reindeer herders, worshiped the elements, animals and trees, so almost the entire environment is spiritualized in the game. Puzzles are difficult enough to sit over them for a minute or two. The “bosses” are goblin and water, but the battles do not require arcade skill – just grab what the riddle is, and slowly and thoroughly solve it, while the next six-legged elk senilely slowly clicks its jaw.

In a word, “bosses” do not violate the majestic pace of relaxing gameplay. Walking past the idol pillars, you will open the pages of an interactive encyclopedia – something like sketches from Never Alone. The challenge for re-passing is the collection of museum figures (combs, pendants, etc.), scattered in secluded corners. For some, the adventure will seem unbearably boring – still, the eyes work, the fingers rest. I was interested to know how they lived and what they believed in the Cis-Urals and the Urals before the arrival of Yermak and the industrialists Stroganovs. The story is touching, much like in Journey – unlike Owlboy with her childhood story.

The hills are not what they seem. And they have eyes too!

***

Renee Zellweger would be pleased with the brainchild of Perm! The “Oscar” winner, let me remind you, is descended from the Saami. But seriously, Morteshka turned out to be a surprisingly soulful arcade game on an unfamiliar topic. The boy from Limbo, however, can sleep peacefully – in his segment, he is still out of competition. Even a horned shaman is not a hindrance to him.

Pros: nice original graphics; demonstrative informativeness (an amusing squeeze of legends and legends of the Komi, Saami and Mansi); hybrid of successful mechanics Limbo and Never Alone.
Cons: animation lacks smoothness; short duration (one and a half to two hours, depending on the love of reading).

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