Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Indie Impressions - Mugsters


Developed by Reinkout Games/Team17

Now Available on Steam

An abstract and colorful physics playground of vehicular chaos and acrobatic rescue missions, a single featureless human against alien odds must put his driving skills to the test and break his humanoid brethren free from their extraterrestrial captives. It won't be easy with all sorts of deadly traps and puzzles blocking your path, but through imagination the player will find no end to crazy and interesting ways to break through and commandeer that final beckoning escape airplane at the end of each island.

Mugsters a little bit GTA 2 and a little bit Blast Corps., but mostly it's all destructive fun. This is all about creating the most outlandish and entertaining methods to solving a variety of problems, and then doing it all over again with the learned secrets and shortcuts for the hair-raising Time Trials and a shot at the world records.


Every level of Mugsters is a bright and creative little self-contained island of obstacles and various objectives, and the beautiful thing about it all is that there's no real right way to tackle any of it. This is a game that relies very much on the creativity of the player to manipulate the crazy physics, deform terrain, and utilize a range of crazy and fragile automobiles in unique ways to achieve the plethora of interesting and diverse goals.

These different goals and objectives range anywhere from something as simple as collecting different hard to reach crystals hidden on the map, to more intensive acts of vandalism and destruction on important structures. Each island and mission will also feature any number of human hostages to scout out and rescue from the clutches of their alien captors in increasingly difficult to solve situations, and when found these fleshy meat-bags will follow you around dangerously putting themselves into harms way so keen awareness and utmost driver safety is important here when transporting these civilian liabilities.

Presented in an isometric view and with a whole lot of very smooth and addictive top-down sandbox driving, there's no doubt that this feels like some kind of cosmic homage to the early days of GTA 2. There's plenty of that exciting automotive destruction abound as you swerve your way around obstacles and slam through deform-able terrain, or even leap out at the right moment out of your vehicle while driving at high speeds into a flammable object for stylish action movie looking take-downs on important objectives.

This is a weird comparison I'm about to make because the games are really nothing alike, but perhaps people who have played what I'm referencing will understand what I mean; the free-form approach to solving each mission and rescuing the easy-to-kill hostages that follow you feels a lot to me like the cult-classic PS2 sandbox military romp, Mercenaries. No matter how many times you screw up it just never gets old trying the same problem from a thousand different often explosive and insane angles. Just like with Mercenaries, Mugsters is something I could lose countless hours in just plain messing around.


Mugsters stands out with its refreshing low-poly tropical look, an odd and alien selection of soothing pastel colored tree-tops and red rocky crags. Everything is completely interactive in destructible ways, deforming and breaking-down with every shunt of your car or toss of an expendable and explosive barrel. It's always satisfying to smash through a wall and watch the pieces shatter around you, only to hop out and watch your vehicle explode gloriously into a giant power generator.

The only real soundtrack to speak of I've heard is the upbeat and suspenseful title theme, appropriately pumping you up for the playground of destruction. Unfortunately the gameplay itself was more-or-less pretty quiet, focusing on the ambiance of the island and the lapping of surrounding waves, all broken by the intermittent scraping of metal and explosions of vehicles.

Final Thought

Mugsters in a ludicrously fun little sandbox of playful mayhem and colorful chaos, its like the McDonald's Playland equivalent of an early classic PSOne GTA (Do they still have Playlands? If not that's one for the 90's kids). So much variety both in things to do and ways to do them, so many weird little objectives and so many clever ways to keep you from them making for some downright hilarious and unpredictable situations.

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