Disclaimer: For full transparency, the review code used to review this game was given to me by Team 17. This does not affect my judgement of the game.
Mugsters is a game that is developed by Reinkout, and published by Team 17. Team 17 should sound familiar. They are responsible for publishing such great games as Overcooked and The Escapists, as well as Yoku’s Island Express. So I had high hopes for this one.
Mugsters is a strange game in that there isn’t a very obvious plot to the game. The game opens up in a hub of sorts. It’s much more of an island, than a hub. A big space without much to do. Your character spawns in and you are free to roam the hub as you please.
There are 3 main features to the hub. To the right you have what is essentially the level select section of the hub island. To the left is the section of the hub where your rescued humans stay. They sit in these rollercoaster carts waiting for you to collect enough of them so the rollercoaster is full and you can hit the green button to send them through the portal and away from this island. The last section is located North of the hub. There are cables leading from each rollercoaster to a set of garages. Once you have filled a rollercoaster, the cable for that rollercoaster will light up green and unlock one of the garages. These contain vehicles, which can then be used to explore the island hub.
When it comes to selecting a level, the player can stand on a button in the level select section of the hub and see what the objectives are for that island. Two of the objectives are the same for every island; save X number of humans, collect X number of crystals. The main objective changes on each island. Sometimes you have to activate a machine, others you have to collect these gigantic plugs and literally plug them in to the correct colour socket. Completing the main objective is necessary to unlocking the next island, however completing the second and third objective is not necessary. Complete all 3 objectives and unlock a time trial mode for that island.
Each island has it’s own challenges and puzzles in it. Most of the puzzles involve doors that only open when a pressure pad is activated, as well as walls that must be demolished for the player to be able to progress. Mugsters has very good physics which make the puzzles quite fun. You have to think carefully about how you do things. In terms of obstacles many of the islands have these red humanoid figures who will attempt to kill the character, but are easily defeated with one or two solid attacks. The robots are the hardest obstacles. Black spherical robots that will continuously follow you until you defeat them. One level even has a gigantic one that can chase you around the entire island unless you’re careful. These are normally defeated by using the explosive barrels, or causing enough damage to them (with a vehicle for instance).
Mugsters has a rather simple plot, but it’s one that is never directly explained. Through playing it becomes clear that you are freeing humans from an alien race that enslaved them. Why, how or why you’re not enslaved is never explained. That being said it doesn’t matter all that much. The game very obviously isn’t meant to have an in-depth storyline, it merely needs a storyline to give it a reason to exist as a game. The joy of the game comes from the gameplay itself, which unfortunately leads me to my issues with the game.
The AI in this game is frustrating at times. Once you free a human from it’s pod, it follows you around. Wherever you go, it goes and it seems to travel as the crow flys. The humans will often run in a straight line towards you. This means if you leave too much of a gap between you and them you’ll find them running at walls, trapped in corners or even (in one or two times I played) running off the island and into the water. The water in Mugsters means death to the character or human, meaning you cannot complete the rescue (X number) of humans objective. Which means, if you’re anything like me, you’re restarting that level again. So you restart, and replay. Doing the same things over and over. Which brings me to my second and final issue with the game.
Collect the crystals. Save the human. Activate the machine. It’s all gets tedious to be honest. At first Mugsters is a fun game, however come island 8 or 9 I found myself thinking “Do I really have to do this again?”. Blow up that wall, punch that alien, save the humans. Mugsters’ lack of change between levels makes me feel this game would be much more suited to a console such as the Switch. A console that allows the player to play for 15/20 while they bus it to wherever they have to go and then they stop playing. Mugsters isn’t a bad game, it’s what I refer to as a short-burst game. You play while traveling and, more often than not, stop playing before the game gets tedious.
The game is available on Switch, and that is the platform I would personally recommend it on. Unless you are someone who plays in 20 minute bursts, then I would suggest this game to you on whichever is your platform of choice. It is a fun game to play, provided you don’t play it for too long. After 20 minutes or so you will feel yourself start to get bored, so take that into consideration.
If Mugsters is the game for you, it tois available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam for £9.99.