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The Mobius Machine Review

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Mobius, you may be wondering where you’ve heard that word before recently. No, it’s not a game about Owen Wilson’s latest invention, but instead what we have here is a Metroidvania title from publisher and developer Madruga Works. What’s that? You’ve never heard of “Metroidvania” before? Well let’s start at the beginning then.

These games are usually a blend of the action adventure and platformer genres, where the path forward isn’t a simple case of getting from A to B. Instead, these adventures are set in a labyrinth environment where many areas are inaccessible until your character gains a certain type of upgrade or ability. You will then need to backtrack once these are acquired. 

The Mobius Machine review 1
A new Metroidvania…

The Mobius Machine is a classic example of the genre. In fact, it’s textbook. You play as a little space explorer who crash lands on a hostile, alien planet. Before long you discover it is teeming with life, but it just so happens pretty much every lifeform out there wants to kill you.

Armed with basic weaponry and a floaty jump, you set out to explore the unknown landscape. Each area is split into sectors, and you will quickly learn there are many, many different paths to choose from. Of course, trial and error will reveal which ones allow progression and the others that you will need to come back to later. This is a Metroidvania game after all.

Getting through sector 7 is the goal, however there are six doors blocking the way. You guessed it, you’ll need to scour the others for the control panels which will open the path forwards. Each sector also contains a map room, multiple save points and access to the aforementioned mobius machine itself.

Downloading the sector map is essential. It will reveal your environment as you explore and prevent you feeling completely lost. Without it, you’ll be relying on your grey matter alone as you desperately try to remember where you have and haven’t been. You can view your map from the pause menu, or bring it up as a quick view overlay as you play.

This is where The Mobius Machine falls down a little, because it’ll take you a while to find your full map, so for a good proportion of your time you’ll be wandering around blind. Thankfully, you do have the option to place up to fifty markers on your map. These can be used to flag an area to return to, a pickup you can’t yet reach or just to simply keep track of where you’ve been. It would have been good to have the option to add a little more detail, but hey ho.

The Mobius Machine review 4
You’ll be needing that map

As I say, at first you’ll be equipped only with a basic assault weapon, which is pretty weak against more developed enemies. The right trigger is used to fire, and tilting the thumbstick on the same side of your controller will direct where you shoot. This can get a bit fiddly when trying to move around an enemy and fire at the same time, but the direction will usually lock until changed which helps.

There are many, many hideous creatures (as well as machines) who are out to get you. Some are trickier than others, mainly the ones who fire projectiles that track your movements when you try to flee. You will also be ambushed by more powerful foes who are guarding secrets, and boss characters will pop up from time to time. 

These encounters aren’t too bad, once you have figured out what you’re doing. The classic lengthy health bar will stretch across the bottom of your screen, and it’s a case of shooting and dodging until you run it down to zero. Standard really. 

It’s usually after these battles where you find a new ability, such as a weighted belt with which to swim, pickaxes to climb walls and even a parachute to float across large gaps. It’s then where you head back to those map markers, or desperately try to remember where those items that sat just out of reach were located.

Enemies will drop energy and scrap, and these two resources are used for very different things. Energy is very useful, because it can be used to pop your weapon into an overcharge mode, or more importantly, converted and used to heal yourself. This presents you with an interesting conundrum, because often the only way to recover is to put yourself directly in harm’s way, clear out some nasties and gather that much needed energy.

The Mobius Machine review 3
A world to traverse

The scrap is used to upgrade your weapons and abilities at the workbench, once you find the three blueprint pieces that is. It can also be used to restore power to certain areas, revealing different routes and hidden goodies.

There’s a lot of shooting baddies (as they respawn shortly after you’ve moved on) and traversing the landscape in The Mobius Machine. At times the grind can start to creep in, however the excitement of the exploration keeps it from becoming an issue, despite the repetitive nature of the gameplay. 

Thankfully, each sector has access to the titular device, which equates to fast travel. These points are scarce, but very welcome when compared to the journey you would need to take on foot.

I really like the visual style of The Mobius Machine. Yes it’s pretty similar throughout (each sector differing mostly by colour filter) but the alien world is well realised. The combination of background and foreground styles is simple but works. It’s the most fitting choice when it comes to a Metroidvania game, and so I have no quibbles here.

To be clear, The Mobius Machine is a challenging game. You can play it on either the standard or retro difficulty. The first means that if you die (and you will) all’s not lost. In fact, very little is and you have a chance to recover your scrap by returning to the location of your death. However, retro mode will take a lot of that away from you, and that’s where the save points come in. Make sure to use these regularly, otherwise you run the risk of losing substantial progress. If I’m honest, I didn’t see the need to play this way as The Mobius Machine is challenging enough on regular mode. 

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You’ll really enjoy The Mobius Machine

Despite the length (and sometimes repetitive nature) of The Mobius Machine, I really enjoyed myself. It may be because at heart I’m a puzzle solver, so the simple satisfaction of the platforming pieces slowly fitting together or fully exploring the map sector by sector spurred me on. In getting this basic Metroidvania blueprint right, The Mobius Machine holds up well as a great addition to the genre.

Despite nothing in particular wowing in The Mobius Machine, that won’t stop you from playing until the very end. All the Metroidvania hallmarks are present and correct, and that means this is one that will be hard to put down.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Looks the part
  • Classic Metroidvania style
  • Hours of gameplay
  • Brilliant level design
Cons:
  • Navigating without the map can be frustrating
  • Gameplay can feel repetitive
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Madruga Works
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 1 March 2024 | £20.99
Darren Edwards
Darren Edwards
I have been playing games since a very early age, thanks to my Dad's encouragement. I've been an Xbox gamer since the very beginning, the Master Chief is to thank for that. I'm also a big Nintendo geek, and my other half is a PlayStation nut. I'll play pretty much anything in any genre (although FIFA and COD maybe pushing it).
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Looks the part</li> <li>Classic Metroidvania style</li> <li>Hours of gameplay</li> <li>Brilliant level design</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Navigating without the map can be frustrating</li> <li>Gameplay can feel repetitive</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Madruga Works</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 1 March 2024 | £20.99</li> </ul>The Mobius Machine Review
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