Developer: Morteshka (Vladimir Belestsky, Mikhail Shvachko)
Publisher: Sometimes You
Platform Review: PlayStation 4
Released: July 18, 2018
Also Available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Steam
The Mooseman is an adventure puzzle game inspired by animal style myths from the cultures of Komi-Permians, Komi-Zyrians, Mansi and Saamic people. The Mooseman is a character on a mission requiring him to travel through three layers of the universe. He utilizes his ability to see spirits, the assistance of chud (spirits), and puzzle solving skills to overcome obstacles. Throughout the game the player learns the lore of Yen and his seven sons, the three layers of the universe, and the creation of the world and life.
The Mooseman is a shaman that needs to take a journey through three layers of the universe:
Lower World – spirits of the dead
Middle World – place for men and spirits
Upper World – gods and souls dwell.
The Mooseman’s task is to retrieve a part of Shondi’s flame, the sun, from the Lower World and bring it back to the Upper World to warm all creations.
Mooseman - half human and half god, son of Yen.
Osh - the Bear Guardian to the border between the Middle and Lower World. Only the dead are allowed through so no spirits of the living world nor man can get past.
Vakul - a fierce pike fish, guardian of the great river Sir-Yu. Vakul devours anyone trespassing his domain.
Cheran - The Great Spider, Lord of Darkness. Watches over Ort and helps them reach the Upper World
Ort - souls of man
Kars - The Bird of Prey, the guide to the Upper World
Chud - spirits created by Yen, the First God. The Mooseman can control them based off their behaviors.
and more discovered in the game....
The game is a linear path, the character can move forward or turn around and move to the opposite direction.
To see spirits, press X. Sometimes there will be an object blocking the path, press X to change the view to the spirit world and walk past the object. Sometimes the avatar will encounter a gap between cliffs, change to spirit sight and there will be chud formed as a bridge for the avatar to cross over. At times the player will be stomped as to how to continue the path. To solve the puzzle the player will need to change between sights and manipulate spirits of objects to move.
After retrieving a flame of Shondi the Mooseman will have the ability to repel evil spirits.
When evil spirits make contact with the avatar the game ends and re-starts at the latest checkpoint. Same will happen when the Mooseman falls through a hole, cliff, or caught by a guardian.
From beginning to end the developer utilizes Perm animal style icons to narrate and illustrate the story. These icons are inspired by actual historical artifacts depicting mythological creatures and ancient gods of finno-ugric tribes of Ural, Russia.
The player collects these Perm animal style icons throughout the game. They are placed either in plain sight or hidden with the spirits. Most times the player needs to use the spirit sight to find these icons.
After collecting the icons pressing L1 enables players to read the historical significant and myths of these pictures.
The game will also explain the background of a creature or area when reaching important parts of the story. For example, when the Mooseman enters a new area the scene will change to a written translation of a myth narrated by a voice actress. And after encountering a mythological creature the game will advise to press R1 to learn the myths of the creature.
The Mooseman is composed of two layers of graphics with the fore and background blended in a unique artistic 2D style. The color scheme is made of tones from black to white further depicting eerie mysteriousness. With the limited color scheme the game designer, (Vladimir Beletsky) was able to make layers of different tones, like water-coloring, creating depth and illusion into the landscape.
The avatar is a dark silhouette, when spirit sight is activated a moose's skull appears as head-wear on the avatar. One layer is the world of mortals shown in silhouette and the other layer is the world of spirits in detailed white drawings. The detailed designs are inspired by Perm animal style and it is very impressive the theme stays authentic throughout the game.
Music is very atmospheric and further entrances the player. The melody and use of a chorus gives off a sense of spirituality pairing well with the mission of a shaman re-enacting the myths of the gods he reveres. The fact the music composer (Mikhail Shvachko) uses genuine folk music of the Komi people is amazing. And the developer continues to keep the authenticity by having parts of the game narrated in the Komi-Permian language. The narrator is a native speaker with a bewitching voice urging the listener to "hear the stories of her people".
Mooseman is a captivating game from puzzles to mysterious beautiful artwork. This game is entertaining and surprisingly educational. The fantastical story hooks the player in and when the game is complete the player has the option to continue searching for the rest of the animal style icons. These icons are hidden all over and can only be discovered by a combination of mortal and spirit sight.
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