You have to love Humble Monthly. For a meagre $12 per month, you get a curated selection of games. If you don’t subscribe before the first Friday of the month, you don’t get the games. It sounds like it shouldn’t work – I mean, what if the games are shit – but I’ve received some absolute belters. More than a few I already own. Spelunky, Grim Fandango and Besiege are two I can think of off the top of my head – but they’re all some of the best games ever made. Saints Row 4, which I’ve received four copies of spread over a few bundles has proven really valuable with the 30+ hours of co-op play I got from gifting it to a friend. All in, with Company of Heroes 2, Talos Principle and Legend of Grimrock 2 being wiped off my wishlist, I’ve got my money’s worth and best of all, I’ve discovered a load of new games.
Mushroom 11 is a game that I’d never even heard of and what a gem it is.
You are a blobby cluster of cells. Click on some cells and they disappear. If you’re making contact with solid ground, the removed cells sprout elsewhere. Left clicks clear a large area. Right clicks clear a smaller area. I love games that go out of their way to have simplistic controls and you only need one hand and an eye to play Mushroom 11. This mechanic allows you to move across the dystopian wasteland with the greatest of ease. It feels great; simple, intuitive and unique. There are no tutorials or sign posting. The developer has designed the early levels so you learn the deeper systems as you play.
The game is spread over 7 chapters + epilogue. The first four or five chapters are a ton of fun. Where the game lets itself down is with the later levels. The difficulty curve is steep but progress isn’t necessarily gated by whether or not you know what to do. Too many times I was staring at a puzzle knowing exactly what the solution was but the apparent randomness of the prune/sprout mechanic completely fucked me over. I’m sure that if I played through the game again, I’d have no problems with these obstacles but for a first playthrough, I could see why people might give up and play something else.
In the end I was really pleased that I had the patience to brute force through the trickier moments because the sense of satisfaction I felt with the epilogue, accentuated by the excellent soundtrack by Future Sound of London (yeah, they’re still a thing!), was immense.
So thanks Humble Monthly. Here’s a game I never would have heard of were it not for you. And charity. Holy shit…