Few things in life are guaranteed, I’m sure we can all agree on these things, though; Death, Taxes, and publisher Ratalaika Games releasing another fun, unusual, and straightforward indie title to the market. Micetopia is a Metroidvanian medieval-themed platform title that has been developed by Ninja Rabbit Studios. You control a young mouse who must venture deep into dangerous situations to overcome monsters, and save the missing villagers.
This pixel art retro platform game will fill older generational gamers with a sense of nostalgia, while allowing younger players the thrill of experiencing old school style action, with a gradual learning curve. The premise of this title is simple; start your adventure and unlock special powers by rescuing each of the missing villagers. These additional powers allow you to venture further and save more mice.
The action takes place across two key areas; the gloomy caves, and the eerie, magical forest. You spend most of your time in the cave, and the latter area feels like it has been tagged on to pad out the remaining parts of the story. So, what can you expect to get if you take on this indie platform adventure? In short, lots of little sections of a dungeon that are connected by walkways. Each “room” contains several enemies, and some boxes or vases to destroy. You will collect; stones to purchase upgrades, arrows for your bow, and hearts to replenish your health. As you venture deeper, you will encounter areas that cannot be accessed without special powers. You will also find secret locations and boss lairs.
The secret areas transport you to a separate part of the dungeon where you must complete more of the same dungeon-platform crawling action. Your reward when you get to the end of this section? A piece of the village fountain. It wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring, but it added a new challenge, and the 10 hidden sections were fun to search for. When I say hidden, they were as tough to find as when you play hide and seek with a 5-year-old. They were obvious, stuck out like a sore thumb, but the task was enjoyable, nonetheless. The boss lairs contain one gigantic monster, and a member of your village that needs rescuing. Learn your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, smash them into the ground, and move on. This is how the big boss battles play out. For veteran gamers, these simple encounters will provide no challenge. But for new and casual players, it holds enough interest to keep you wanting to play.
For such a straightforward title, there is a fairly large map to explore, with many twists and turns to uncover. Portals will be discovered at certain points, these will allow you to quick travel back to the village, and will save you having to journey to that exact point again if you are killed. Yep, death in this game will kick you back to your home, and you will have to start from the beginning again. You do not lose your progress, but you will have to stomp back to where you died. It’s not too problematic, unless of course you have died several times, and then the repeat journey becomes annoying and monotonous. Just use the portals, they are there for a reason!
Now, I loved the old school art style of this game. The dark, earthy palette enhanced the ominous feeling as you explore further into the depths of the cave. The forest, however, was brighter and had a magical quality to it. The imagery lacks a detailed finished and was reminiscent of 90s gaming. The camera is fixed on the actions of the mouse protagonist, and this gives you no ability to view any of the dangers ahead. This was an annoying oversight from the developers, as jumping into the unknown caused many deaths. This could have easily have been avoided with the use of arrows to show potential dangers. It didn’t ruin the game for me, it just made it unnecessarily frustrating, and harder than it should have been.
You are either a fan of the chirpy chiptune audio movement, or you find it irritating as hell. The synthesised repetitive music and shrill sound effects power modern retro-styled games. Micetopia is no different, the same song plays on loop throughout. I swear I was hearing it in my sleep! I was also haunted by the “Hi-Ya” that the mouse would make at every turn. Though the basic audio gets under your skin, and you beg for it to stop, you’lll have to admit that it works perfectly with the genre, and you will hum it for hours after playing the game.
Like with most indie titles, the controls are easy to learn and master. As new powers and gameplay mechanics are added, explanations are given and you easily understand how each new element works. Sounds perfect, right? It almost is, except for the use of your sword. Swinging your sword can only be completed through the horizontal axis, so anything flying above you, will hit you, and will kill you. You spend your time avoiding the bat’s, or positioning yourself so they would fly into your attack radius. It was like something from a Benny Hill sketch, but not as funny, and completely avoidable.
This Metroidvanian platform adventure is short, fun, and challenging in places. It has a sweet and well-written dialogue, but does it have any replay value? Most of the “secret” areas are so obvious they should just be known as areas. These will pose no challenge, but you still must look for them. Each of the bosses takes a bit of time, but again, are pretty simple. Both the forest and cave contain many sections, and it will take some time to explore them all. A small achievement list is available, but at the time of writing this review, it is bugged, so you may not complete the list (this happened to me, so no 100% status, sad times). You will get around 2 to 3 hours of game time, with no requirement to return. Unfortunately, this ensures that the replay value is pretty low. This could have been enhanced with different characters to select, weapons to unlock, or even an NG+ mode.
Micetopia is a straightforward old school platform game that does what it needs to, to make for an enjoyable, albeit it unoriginal experience. I had my frustrations with some elements of the gameplay, but this could be the Metroidvanian portion of the game getting the better of me. Do I recommend you play it? If you fancy a short, hack and slash style platform game, then yes, you won’t go far wrong with this. Can you help the village elder by rescuing all the missing mice? Start your adventure, gain new powers, and become the hero you are destined to be.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 4/10
User Review( votes)
A Metroidvanian platform title that is fun to play, and simple to learn.
- The art style and colour palette are nice to look at.
- The chiptune audio is annoying but works with the genre.
- Easy to learn controls.
- A simple achievement list.
- Short gameplay, and limited replay value.
- Glitched achievements.