Mable & the Wood Review
Mable is a fresh take on the metroidvania genre offering players the choice between more power or more challenge. In Mable you play as a young girl summoned to save the world but there’s only one problem, Mable is unable to wield her sword. In order to attack enemies, you must utilize Mable’s ability to mimic her foes. The more beings you slay the more powers you unlock but be careful because every action has a consequence. You must progress through the land defeating evil and saving the world. You also experience flashes of memories that may point a clue to who you truly are.
Mable starts with only one form, the fairy. Leave your sword on the ground and take flight before dragging your sword back to you. This will be your bread and butter throughout the game until you find the bosses and steal their powers. One such power that I found when I previewed the game was the spider form. You shoot out your sword and then treat it like a grappling hook, dragging yourself toward it. The first new form I encountered is my favorite, you turn to stone and fling yourself forward. Other forms can allow you to dig through walls or fly with more power and speed than a fairy. All these powers consume your power gauge which only refills in two ways: the first is by touching the ground, the second is by killing enemies. You will need to manage your power if you wish to get far in this platformer.
Fight or Sneak by
You get a new form every time you defeat a boss, if you want to fight at all. Mable & the Wood gives you the option of skipping bosses by finding hidden paths. Make no mistake, the pacifist route is just as challenging as the boss fight in my experience. There are also potions that you can buy with gems you get from slayed enemies. I generally found the potions to be pointless. You gain money slowly and lose it when you die. Despite this it’s not really a problem as you can recover it by returning to where you died and breaking your death marker. What is a problem however, is that should you get hit, you will lose money. You can pick it back up but because it despawns quickly you will almost always lose a large amount. I would see this as a large negative but the potions themselves are rarely needed as checkpoints are plentiful and heal you when activated.
Skipping bosses is not new to the metroidvania genre but it’s executed well and actually encouraged in Mable. As I said when I previewed this game, “This has some fun possibilities such as getting to the final boss without killing anything only to go after the bosses in reverse order with skills you should not have or going for a pacifist run.” Now that I’ve seen some of the other forms and been able to mess with the movement more, I believe that there is also potential for this game to be a fun speed run. If you account for the speed that can be generated by some of the powers as well as the potions acting as more of a reward for flawless gameplay, I could see speed runners having fun with this game.
The platforming segments had a good mix of challenge rooms and easier rooms that kept exploration interesting without making it take forever to backtrack. Platforming sections have a good variety of mechanics like weight activated platforms that require you to leave your sword behind or stone spears that require good timing. The platforming is well done with good controls. There is a good mix of situations that manage to make each form feel useful and worth getting. The initial fairy power may objectively be the best because it could be the only power you use to beat the game but I never felt like it was my only option. If you do decide to acquire other transformations there will be areas that require them unless you want to find the pacifist route.
Revenge for All Past Undefeated Bosses
I found the bosses to be well done. The first boss is simple but as I acquired more forms I found each boss having more and more personality. Though jumping or flying about is a staple attack each boss still feels unique. The further you get in the game and the more bosses you skip the more impact your choices will have. When I chose not to fight the first boss, I did not feel like it was impossible for me to progress, but I did find myself forced to get creative or find new routes all together. This allows for a decent amount of replayability. I am sure everyone has a memory of being stuck on a difficult boss as a kid. I’m glad to find a game that allows you to skip a boss either temporarily or to challenge yourself further.
I am glad to see that Mable & the Wood was able to maintain the level of quality that I saw in my earlier preview. The platforming has a nice flow to it with a good balance of enemy hazard and platforming challenge. If you are a fan of metroidvania and or retro styled platformers I recommend you give Mable a chance.
*** PC code provided by the publisher ***
- Fun and unique transformations
- Challenging platforming
- Multiple endings
- Gems seem pointless
- Damage knockback can be brutal