Some credit should be given for the game’s functionality considering the regrowing mechanism could have been a huge mess. However, the requirements necessary to overcome some of the obstacles are beyond the point of reason.
Genres: Puzzle Platformer
Release date: 15 Oct, 2015
Mushroom 11 (M11) is a game I’ve had but never played since January 2016, so it was certainly long overdue by the time I finally got to it. It has reasonable reviews overall, though despite coming in a monthly Humble Bundle, M11 never got much attention. Deciding it was time to take a crack at it, I wound up playing through the entire game in only a few days, and I can see why it doesn’t garner much interest.
In M11, you play as a neon green, semi-solid goo that can shift around and contort into various shapes, break into separate pieces, and will regrow back to your full mass even if only 1 square is left. You’ll make your way through 7 stages, overcoming a few enemies, though your main barriers to progressing are physical ones. For instance, getting across a pool of lava, perhaps by clinging onto a production line hook going in a loop. The stage design varies around different environments and types of obstructions, from industrialized factories to what looks like an abandoned ruin, with nature and technology blending in unexpected ways. I think one of the oddest is a shrimp in a hamster wheel surrounded by spikes. Each stage has 50 collectibles, though the only purpose they have is for achievement hunting, as it won’t make your blob more powerful or larger.
You control the green goo using only the mouse. The way it works is that you’ll click the button, which activates a round erasing tool like you’d find in a drawing program. ‘Left clicking’ causes a large circle to show up, used for rapid movement, whereas the ‘right click’ is much smaller and used for careful manipulation. You’ll use this to destroy parts of yourself, which forces it to regrow itself elsewhere, and this is the only mechanic available to complete everything required of you. This will include climbing up steep inclines, moving items to make platforms, being in more than one place at once, and riding rockets across large gaps.
None of this is inherently a bad idea, but I didn’t find this to be a satisfying way of controlling my character. At best, I could use this system to build up a good pace and roll across the ground quickly or crawl through small openings without hesitation. However, when it comes to areas where I need to make precise movements, it all fell apart and became very frustrating. A key issue is that when you erase part of the goo, where it grows back seems fairly random. There were several situations where I had to carefully arrange the goo in order to cross a large chasm, and it took a long time because it wasn’t growing back where I wanted it to. Instead, it kept popping up in areas that were useless, so I’d have to repeatedly shave those parts off until it cooperated with me. This wouldn’t have been so bad, were it not for M11 putting in several difficult sections to overcome, as if they weren’t really considering how frustrating it was to actually get past them.
There’s nothing in the game that outright tells a story, except for a cutscene that plays out after you beat the game. Even then, it only shows you areas in the game you already were, with no audio or text to outline what’s going on. Everything has to be inferred from the environment and different props and images you can find if you’re looking for them. I think everyone would agree that this is some kind of post-apocalyptic future, somehow caused by humanity, though what happened is anyone’s guess. With so little available to base anything off of, I think it’s pointless to try and fill in so many gaps with aimless conjecture, as it’s likely to be way off the mark.
Although the graphics in M11 are simple, they are also effective. When out in open areas, it looks like there’s depth in the background. It looks like you can see miles into the distance, with desolate buildings that are just barely standing and look centuries old due to the decay. The sky has a gloomy grayish green hue to it. However, a few things have survived, though the closest to anything recognizable are mutated insects. The setting is well constructed, with an overall dour tone to it, but enough life left for it not to feel completely barren. I also really enjoy the way that the green goo looks, as it has features that could come from either electronic systems, an organism, or some kind of fusion.
I wouldn’t say the music is bad in this game, but it’s basically just techno music that’s easily forgettable.
With the theme of nature and technology fusing together in odd ways, I’d have hoped for music with a more surreal vibe to it. Maybe using the sort of natural sound effects played over relaxing music, but replacing that laid-back tune with something like what we get here. I didn’t notice any problems with the sound effects.
- Though there’s not enough story presented to be meaningful, the atmosphere and world building is done well.
- It could easily have been a buggy mess with its mechanics, but the coding seems to be quite reliable.
- From the events that take place in M11, I’m inclined to see the green goo as a negative force, as it destroys everything around it in pursuit of its own goal. Sometimes it kills a boss just to have a platform available, hardly making it seem benevolent, as there’s nothing to show that the bosses are doing anything wrong. In a post-apocalyptic world so devoid of life, wouldn’t anything that survives have some meaning or value?
- Although it’s true that there are people who have fine-tuned their skills to the game’s controls, most people will find it a burden. It’s kind of like saying, people speedrun Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, so the controls have to be good, when that simply isn’t the case.
- The goals you accomplish in M11 are only noteworthy because of the game’s mechanics. If you could simply jump like in other platformers, everything would be a cakewalk.
- It’s worth looking into videos and guides beforehand, so you know what to expect and have a general framework on how to progress. Doing so helped me get past the final stage with less pain than I anticipated.
- This game requires a lot of patience to beat, and expect to get stuck on different areas for a while. If you’re on an area that needs you to take it slowly, don’t rush it, as you’ll only waste more time.
I’ll be the first to admit that M11 created an environment that was intriguing, and could be the center point of an engaging story. However, for whatever reason, the developers held themselves back from letting its audience dive deeper into this world, preferring to tease us with ideas instead of fully realizing what actually took place. Perhaps they never actually fully developed that, relying on innuendo to serve as the hook, because whatever story they would actually tell would be less interesting than our imaginations.
Either way, the atmosphere doesn’t hold the game together, because the attitude I had most of the time was anger towards M11. I’d come across obstacles that wouldn’t seem hard to navigate through, but would stalemate me for several minutes, raising my ire that I couldn’t do something that’d be easily completed in almost any other game. I almost always felt like I was wrestling against the controls instead of this green glob doing what I wanted it to do, which is never a fun part of a game. Due to these issues, I can’t recommend it.
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