A Mother’s Work Is Never Done
HIGH Some of the puzzles are entertaining.
LOW Hearing the main character’s terrible voice acting again and again.
WTF It’s so bad, I had to disable her voice altogether.
In the animal kingdom, the role of the mother is usually that of a protector — she cares for and feeds her young while keeping them safe from predators until the time is right to leave the nest. In Macrotis things are similar, except that this mother also has to deal with levels full of videogame challenges.
Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey is a straightforward 2D puzzle-platformer with a heavy emphasis on the puzzles. It stars a mother bilby (an Australian rodent) whose home was destroyed by a terrible flood. She’s been separated from her children, who she now must rescue.
She hasn’t got many moves at her disposal except for jumping and pushing blocks. Later, she’ll be able to use magic powers like spawning ghosts that can push far-away buttons or levers.
Unfortunately, every puzzle has only one specific solution which may be easily botched by something as simple as a block that just won’t stay in the right position or not being able to stand exactly where the puzzle wants me to because the controls are not precise enough.
Whenever the mother finds herself with an unsolvable puzzle, the player must ‘give up’ and reset. Things get a little more varied with the magic powers later on, but puzzles like creating a sprite to push a button that is out of reach have been seen before in many other similar titles. Also, introducing timed puzzles was a dubious idea at best since, again, the controls are imprecise.
Narratively, there’s not much going on in Macrotis but ironically, the devs felt obliged to make mother bilby extremely talkative — she will constantly fill the silence by making observations, talking to various NPC animals (who don’t talk back) or by making jokes. The voice acting is shoddy, and it got to the point that I had to turn off the voices altogether, which is something I haven’t had to do in years.
Graphically, Macrotis looks okay in screenshots but is slightly less impressive in motion since there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the art style. In the early levels (the caves) the background seems to be designed with a ‘the more the merrier’ approach that looks cluttered, instead of fascinating or foreboding. However, compared to the puzzles and the voices, I would argue that the graphics are the strongest aspect of Macrotis.
In the end, Macrotis: a Mother’s Journey is a hodgepodge of ideas that seem to miss the mark more often than they hit. It might please those looking for a minor commitment thanks to a short duration and pleasant looks, but the lack of interesting gameplay ideas and intriguing narrative mean there’s little here to interest puzzle-platformer connoisseurs.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Proud Dinosaurs and published by Eastasiasoft. It is currently available on Nintendo Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB, for Mild Fantasy Violence. The game remains child-friendly throughout and can be easily recommended for even small children.
Colorblind Modes: there are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: all dialogue in the game is subtitled, text cannot be altered or resized. Sound is not necessary for successful play. In my view, the game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The controls are NOT remappable.
Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple.
He's a sucker for great stories in gaming, he loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs.
Damiano's been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on Twitter at @damgentemp, or on his blog https://genesistemple.com (now dedicated to the history of video game design).