The Spirit and the Mouse Review
Recently, a slew of charming creatures have taken the lead role in an array of wonderful adventures. From the adorable tabby in Stray to the delightful fox from Tunic, tales that feature cute critters have resonated with animal lovers around the globe. Looking to scurry into the paw prints of its predecessors, The Spirit and the Mouse places you in the tiny claws of a rodent but will the game manage to capture the magic that permeates its influences?
Set in a quaint town in France, you take on the role of Lila, an adorable mouse who wants to bring happiness to the inhabitants of Sainte-et-Claire. As you stroll through the streets, you notice several issues that the locals are experiencing. One that takes your eye is the loss of a scarf. In a bid to do good, you search for the item, only to discover that it is caught on a lightning rod. As you scale the environment, a thunderstorm stirs and strikes at the pinnacle. With electricity now running through your body and Lumion, the Spirit Guardian at your side, you aim to harness your new powers to help people in the village. Due to the basic delivery, the over-arching narrative and sub-stories never manage to hit on an emotional level; however, it still keeps the plot at the forefront to give purpose to the journey.
Shiny Happy People
Each area possesses residents with problems that you aim to solve. Their issues are tied to the absence of electricity which means you must reactivate a generator in the area. To do this, you will traverse the environment and perform simple tasks so that Kibblins return to the generator and power is given back to the district. While the objectives vary, they are by the book and don’t take advantage of the unique premise. Objectives tend to focus on simple interaction with items and the collection of objects. Odd puzzles do occur but these are very easy which emphasizes the lack of challenge throughout. Unfortunately, the cycle maintains through the duration of the game which can get a little tiresome.
The Spirit and the Mouse has separate areas where your missions take place. Each region is small but full of intricate paths that allow you to freely explore. Although it’s a joy to discover the route to your objective through zipping across electronic cables and skittering along ledges, the omission of platforming segments hinders the experience. Lila can climb certain obstacles but is unable to leap over gaps. This can cause slight frustration as it removes the ability to experiment with avenues to your destination. The use of verticality is well implemented as you can spiral up the odd building to find items and shortcuts.
A litany of collectibles adorns the environment. You can zap certain objects to gain sparks to boot up generators and get guidance on the whereabouts of Kibblins; however, you can also collect lightbulbs to unlock a number of items from the store. Maps and upgrades are purchasable and help you navigate each area with ease. Due to this, there is more incentive to venture down every path so that you can unlock everything available.
The Smell of Ratatouille
The art direction of the game is endearing. Characters lack detail yet are stylized in a manner that is still expressive. Lila is without a shadow of a doubt a highlight of the game. The way she stands on her hind legs when collecting happiness is adorable, however, there is some stiff animation, especially when descending stairs. Performance-wise, the game runs smoothly with irregular slow down. I did encounter a bug on the odd occasion where the camera would stick to an item and fail to follow the protagonist. I did have to reboot the game to correct this but this may be something that not everybody will experience.
The Spirit and the Mouse is a relaxing dawdle through a lovely French village. Playing as the cute, electric-fused Lila is a joy, however, the lack of options available to traverse does hinder the expedition. While the premise is packed with possibilities, the tedious and formulaic mission design makes this an arduous trek.
*** A Nintendo Switch key provided by the publisher ***
- Lovely Intricate Environments
- Cute Protagonist
- Interesting Premise
- Repetitive Gameplay Loop
- Plodding Pace
- Doesn’t Take Advantage of its Premise