by Marjolein Verheij
reviewed on PC
Out with the zombies
After all the blood, gore and zombie apocalypses of late, it is time for some light-hearted fun this upcoming winter. Marvin’s Mittens, will make you smile like a little kid with a new toy as you run and jump around in the snow, chasing snowflakes and riding your toboggan down snowy slopes really, really fast.
Developed by indie studio Breakfall, Marvin’s Mittens starts off with a cutscene showing off little Marvin hard at work building a snowman. Suddenly a light whooshes by and before poor Marvin knows it, his mitten is gone, flying off into the distance with the strange light. He decides to go look for it the next day and this is where you come in. Marvin leaves his house in the afternoon in his big green winter coat, his yellow scarf and one red mitten – he’s one cute looking kid. In fact the whole game looks cute and cuddly, featuring hand drawn art in a children’s book style. The game all about running around in the snow, sledding and exploring the beautiful looking winter landscape. It will bring back memories of your childhood when snow was a magical thing rather than something inconvenient that keeps you from your daily business. The developers want to capture the feeling of childhood wonder and they have succeeded.
Magic is all around
You set out to find Marvin’s missing mitten that first day, jumping on tree branches covered in snow, but you can’t jump very high and therefore can’t reach the higher branches. You pass a tree house and a sign with a sled on it, but you don’t have a sled… yet. One is hanging from a tree, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t reach it. And so you move on, climbing rocks and leaving one level for the next until you stumble upon a little camp where 3 Snow Elves are sitting on a log. It turns out they have all lost a mitten as well. Marvin promises to find theirs, along with his own and – to thank him for his trouble – the little Elves cast a spell on Marvin’s remaining mitten.
This magical mitten gives Marvin the ability to jump much higher and to collect the magic snowflakes that are scattered everywhere high and low. You collect some and suddenly you can jump and access branches that were out of reach before. Running back a couple of levels, you are now able to grab the toboggan that was hanging from the tree. But before you can explore more, you are called by your mother who wants you inside and into bed. That is the moment you learn of the time limit present in the game. You leave the house in the afternoon and when the sun sets, it is time for bed and to dream a cutscene dream of the things that Marvin saw that day. The game is meant to be relaxing to play and as such, there isn’t any combat, there are no enemies, or even any environmental hazards. But don’t worry, there is plenty to keep you busy and there are plenty of challenges (the time limit being the main one) to keep you playing.
Elves and snowflakes
The next day you will hear Marvin running down the stairs and then… he flies out the door on his sled, speeding from one level to the next in record time. Before long he has reached the Elven camp again where he is offered a cup of hot cocoa. The Elven camp now offers some new options; one is asking for advice. This advice comes in the form of an Elven encyclopaedia that gives you a little poem. It’s this encyclopaedia that tells you that the more magic snowflakes you collect, the higher you can fly after a jump.
So even when racing through the levels on your sled might seem like a good idea to cover as much ground as possible, it may be wiser to spend some time jumping from tree branch to tree branch to collect those twinkling flakes to be able to make those high jumps later on in the game. Still, sledding down hills also serves a purpose as some hills will launch you into the air when you reach the bottom, opening up new areas to explore in the process. Besides offering you the encyclopaedia, the Elves also help you create shortcuts between levels to shorten your journey for the next day. This way, you can venture further into the game with each day.
The further you come, the more diverse the environments become. There are broken train tracks, frozen waterfalls, caves and Elven settlements to explore and lots of snowflakes to collect. And if you jump really high you might discover air blasts that take you even higher up into the skies. Little threads of red fibre caught in trees show you that you are on the right path of tracking down that lost mitten and finding out about the strange light that took it. As you explore, you will find wildlife of which you can draw a picture in your sketchbook. Be careful though, if you move to close they will be gone before you can finish your drawing!
Marvin’s Mittens is controlled by keyboard alone. It reminded me of the old days, playing games like Commander Keen and Rayman that needed only arrow keys, space bar and return key to play. That’s all you need to move around, jump and interact in Marvin’s Mittens too. Only the ‘B’ key is added to grab and put away your sled. This really is a game for everyone who wants to relive some of winter’s childhood magical moments, as well as the fun sidescrolling platformers of the past. The music and sounds fit the feel of the game perfectly and with such easy controls it can be picked up by anyone, big and small.
I for one can’t wait to feel the magic again as I jump higher and higher, catching those snowflakes as I explore this winter wonderland. It is pure magic and I can’t get enough.
Gorgeous graphics, easy controls, great soundtrack.
No Pros and Cons at this time