Seven out of ten testers couldn’t get past level 15. A bold claim, by any account. But it’s one that Mushroom Quest, a game where you control a giant walking mushroom who spends his time pushing blocks and collecting crystals, is willing to make.
So with some anticipation, I jumped in… or tried to. The game crashed four times on launch, and I had to restart my Xbox to finally get it going. Not a good start, and it didn’t get any better from there. There’s only 30 levels in the entire game, and none of them put up much of a fight. There are times where you might have to stop and think, but they are few and far between. And there isn’t one puzzle that will genuinely stump you.
Mushroom Quest introduces a few new mechanics along the way, as a way to ramp up the difficulty. By the end of the game, you’ll be dealing with keys, coloured switches, trapdoors and breakaway floors. It sounds more difficult than it really is. These mechanics are minor hindrances at best, and it becomes clear that they are never really used to their full potential. These are interesting features that should have been used to make levels that offer a real challenge; levels that could have made Mushroom Quest a better game than it currently is.
So instead of being ludicrously difficult or in any way challenging, Mushroom Quest is the exact opposite. In fact, the game is such a cakewalk that you could reasonably expect to be beyond level 15 after about 20 minutes and completely finished in under an hour. My experience left me questioning how old these supposed testers were, or whether they were even conscious during the playtesting.
And then Mushroom Quest doesn’t give you any reason to play through it again, or even give it another look beyond the hour you’ll spend beating it. It can’t have been too hard to introduce a simple timer or a star rating system, surely? A level editor might have been a good idea as well, even if it seems like a pretty heavy undertaking for the small team behind this game. Or even just adding more levels. 30 is nowhere near enough for a game this easy.
Where Mushroom Quest does succeed (barely) is in its presentation. The graphics are okay, even if wholly unremarkable. They’re a cute throwback to a time when pushing blocks was hot stuff in the world of video gaming. And the whimsical fantasy music suits the theme well enough. Be warned though, it does become incredibly repetitive, incredibly quickly. You’ll find that this is a quest that is best played on silent, lest you start hearing frothy fantasy tunes in your sleep.
The only other positive I can pick out with Mushroom Quest – that is worthy at least – is in terms of the achievements. You’ll get them all for simply finishing all 30 levels. 1000 Gamerscore for an hour’s work is pretty good going by anyone’s estimate, and so I expect this to be a game that will gather some recognition in the achievement hunting community.
So with Mushroom Quest on Xbox One, we have a game that is far too easy, far too limited and far too short. There’s no replayability. And you’ll end up only getting an hour of gameplay out of it, if that. All this makes that relatively small price-tag of £4.19 seem vastly overpriced. Unless you’ve always wanted to push blocks around as a giant mushroom, or are in the market for another easy completion, I’d suggest spending your money elsewhere. There are much better puzzle games out there that offer much more content at a comparable price.