It isn’t very often that I play something that inspires me to make up my own fiction for a game, but Mewnbase has become an exception.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am no fan of roguelike or roguelite games. Having a single life and simply moving along at a frantic clip until I get killed or simply get unlucky is just not that fun for me. Most of these games require juggling resource management as well as fighting skills, and it’s up to the player to figure out the best way to balance the two and get one step farther. I get where this kind of challenge can appeal to players, but that is simply not my cup of tea.
What separates Mewnbase is that it simply places you as one space cat against the elements. The only enemy I have run into so far is time, where your character is stranded on a planet and with limited oxygen. It is up to the player to find supply crates containing pieces of a base that, when combined, amount to a single room with an air recycler than can refill the players air tanks.
Once that’s done it’s off to the races to find food, raw materials, and alien artifacts to research and build more complicated machinery. All the while you must remember to stay near enough to the base to refill air tanks until you can research and build spare tanks. For a novice in the genre, the first few days can be extremely tense as you constantly have to hope that you will find what you need in time before air runs out. However, once enough materials have been found to build things like a greenhouse, a forge and a solar panel, the difficulty evens out and you can explore further.
The constant threat of asphyxiation is compounded by the fact that you are an adorable cat, using your paws to swipe at materials to pick them up. As a cat lover, it’s a simple decision that adds an element of empathy to game since I definitely don’t want to imagine a kitty suffocating in the punishing vacuum of space. I found myself making up a little story about how my catronaut, Fuzz, figures out how to survive in a barren world.
From The Journal Of Fuzz Aldrin
After several close calls over the past few days, I have managed to make a livable space that will sustain me for the future. My biofuel machines were functional enough to keep the lights on but the constant demand for more wood and plants made exploration difficult. Now, with my solar panels and battery, I no longer have to scrounge for materials and can take my time in exploring this new world. It feels like only yesterday that I landed on this world and set up my Mewnbase. It was not easy staying alive in this strange place without oxygen or life. More than once I faced suffocation or starvation in the early days and it became a life or death struggle to find materials I needed to stay alive one more day. I was confused, disoriented, and unsure of how I was going to go on. I really wish I had not slept through the early training sessions, but, what can I say, I value my nap time. However, thanks to mysterious alien artifacts I found along the way, I was able to find new ways to build new modules and figure out how to make better food. My food still remains plant based meals that tastes awful, but hopefully soon I can develop something a little more tasty. But that is not a priority at the moment, right now I need to work on hopefully finding radioactive material that I can use to fully power my base. I have made it this far however, and I don’t plan on giving up now. I must now stop this entry, my oxygen recycler has crapped out again and I must paw at it to hopefully kickstart the motor.
The whole style of the game is cartoony and pleasant to look at, with a visual style that feels like an old flash game. That is not a knock on the game, the simplicity keeps the player focused on the moment and so as not to get distracted by visual flair. It is also that simple, no frills, gameplay that makes it fun to insert a narrative in the story, as your cat claws its own path to survival. However, that same no frills aspect can also affect the replayability. The game itself only has so many challenges, and once you have played a few times, then it begins to get repetitive. There aren’t any additional surprises that I saw after playing such as a natural disaster or outside enemies. However the game is still in early access so scenarios may come at a later time. And more to the point, the game is, at the time of this writing, only a few bucks so the cost to fun ratio is perfectly balanced. Overall this feels like a great casual entry into genres like base building and survival games. Mewnbase’s simple controls and systems makes what is usually a difficult and daunting genre into something relaxed and engaging.
Survival has never felt so adorable!