The Mooseman Review

By Ethan Anderson,
Every so often, games are able to leave players feeling like they’ve learned valuable lessons during play and upon completion. These lessons learned often vary from player to player based on different user experiences. The Mooseman takes a much more direct and literal approach to teaching players, and it can be labelled an edutainment title because of this. The game is unique in terms of both concept and storyline, and the educational and visual aspects of The Mooseman are intriguing and attention-grabbing. With that being said, gameplay is the game’s weakest facet, leaving a bit to be desired.

The Mooseman

The Mooseman puts information and education at the forefront of the short experience that it offers, and in this, it certainly does not disappoint. The game delves deep into the ancient myths of Finno-Ugric tribes that hail from northern Eurasia. You will play through the game as the Mooseman, a being that is able to see things that are invisible to the mortal eye. As the Mooseman, you will travel between the three layers of creation, learning more and more about the ancient myths along the way. Your goal isn’t spelled out for you from the beginning, but the more you learn, the more you will come to understand who you really are and the significance of your quest in Finno-Ugric lore. The game does a terrific job of gradually feeding you information as you come into contact with new creatures and reach new areas.

It is easy to see early on that gameplay is The Mooseman’s biggest weakness. Gameplay certainly isn’t the focal point of the title, which may make this a bit easier to accept for some. The majority of your playtime will be spent simply walking slowly from left to right, so much so that there is an auto-walk feature that can be used as you make your way through the Lower, Middle, and Upper layers of creation. While there are puzzles, it can be quite easy to become frustrated and disinterested at times on account of the amount of time spent trudging along at a snail’s pace from one obstacle to the next. The few mandatory puzzles blocking your path can almost always be overcome by toggling the Mooseman sight on and off, and these plot-related obstacles rarely cause any trouble in terms of difficulty. On the other hand, there are plenty of collectibles, and a few of them do require keen eyes and a bit of skill to retrieve.

Combat is nonexistent, but you can still lose your life to environmental hazards and various entities, including spiteful spirits and dangerous deities — the game shares some similarities with Limbo in that respect. Sometimes it can be tough to tell friend from foe when first meeting a new creature, but the game provides new lore at each one of its frequent checkpoints. The checkpoints come in the form of idols, and they deliver enough information for players to be able to understand at what stage they are in their treks, as well as what they can expect to see in the immediate area.

Mooseman

Even though the gameplay feels lacking compared to everything else the game has to offer, The Mooseman is able to deliver on what should be its intended selling points: the visuals and the educational aspects. The game’s art style is immediately eye-catching, as it looks as though all of the visuals were taken directly from cave paintings or some such art form. Some of the locations found within the three layers of creation are equal parts dazzling and eerie.

I’m no expert on Finno-Ugric myth, but the game’s attention to detail is also impressive. Each collectible is based on real works, and the inspirations for these pieces of art are sourced in the game. It’s difficult to go into detail in regards to what makes the educational parts of the game so compelling without spoiling the storyline, but I can say the details given about the myths enhance the entire experience.

The Mooseman contains a total of 15 achievements, with the trickier ones requiring players to find all of the collectibles and complete hidden objectives in certain areas. The rest can be obtained through regular story progression. This is a fairly easy completion thanks to the game’s short length and the numerous checkpoints that can be accessed and loaded up from the main menu.

Summary

The Mooseman is a game that feels like it accomplishes what it sets out to do, for the most part. The ancient myths of the Finno-Ugric tribes are complemented well by the uncommon visual style. The story that is told over the course of the adventure is fascinating, and the art can range from striking to subdued depending on what the scene calls for. Where The Mooseman falls short is in the areas that are supposed to keep the audience engaged in between the lore-heavy segments. This could very well turn away those individuals who are looking for more than just a purely educational journey accompanied by a, frankly, tedious gameplay experience.
3.5 / 5
The Mooseman
Positives
  • Eye-catching art style reminiscent of cave paintings
  • Fascinating plot line fuelled by frequent lore drops
  • Succeeds as an educational journey
Negatives
  • Generally uninteresting gameplay experience
  • Most puzzles lack any real difficulty or engaging mechanics
Ethics
This reviewer spent two and a half hours seeing what mortals cannot see while managing to unlock 11 out of 15 achievements. An Xbox One download code was provided for the purpose of this review.
Ethan Anderson
Written by Ethan Anderson
Newshound and part of the TrueGaming Network YouTube team. College student who loves making videos and writing about games. In my free time I'm either struggling/failing to get completions, or praying for a Jak 4.