by Murray Lewis
reviewed on PC
A STRANGE TAIL
With all the talk about diversifying player characters in video games, it's great to see developers taking it to heart and really pushing the boat out.
Mimpi, by Silicon Jelly, is a 2D platformer in which you play a small dog. There's not much story to speak of – your master has gone out and, instead of sleeping or eating the sofa like a normal dog, you leave the house and go on a psychedelic journey to trip-out city. It's like Limbo and Yellow Submarine had a love-child, and that's something I think we all needed.
Once you begin your journey, it's immediately obvious that you'll be needing your mouse as well as the keyboard. In fact, you'll be clicking and dragging a lot – moving clouds to create platforms, looping ropes around pulleys to solve puzzles, and much more. Mimpi is a mobile port, so all of this came naturally to a touch-screen device. Thankfully, the controls have made an excellent transition to the PC, with three different schemes available, including gamepad support. Mobile ports mess up their controls all too often, so it's nice to see a developer spend a little time making it work.
That being said, the controls do suffer from being a touch on the 'floaty' side. There isn't much in the way of precision required throughout the game, but some of the trickier jumps are definitely made more awkward by the feeling that your poor pup is wearing ice-skates. In many ways, Mimpi is easily compared to Limbo, but it noticeably lacks the reassuringly solid feel of that game's physics.
Besides platforming, Mimpi will have you solving plenty of puzzles as you progress through the world. There's a huge variety on offer here, and only occasionally do you come up against the same type of puzzle twice. With such a large number of puzzles, the designs are bound to be a bit hit & miss, but I found the majority of them fun diversions to break up the gameplay.
You'll find yourself rearranging the jewels on a sexy mermaid's necklace, playing Simon Says on a giant trumpet to appease a huge, crying musician, and playing volleyball against some kind of boot with eyes. I don't know what they've been putting in this dog's food, but someone might want to get in touch with animal welfare.
Where the puzzles do let the game down is where they've been made frustratingly obtuse. On a number of occasions, I had to resort to using hints to progress, and every time it was because what I was meant to be doing had not been communicated to me properly. Luckily, the hint system works well, allowing you to spend found light-bulbs to see a pictogram of what you should be doing. If you've not got any bulbs, you have to earn your clue by playing progressively harder levels of Tetris – a feature which, I gather, is entirely new to this version of the game. It encourages you to think a bit harder before falling back on the guide, although if – like me – you're hopeless at Tetris, you may find the hint system harder than the game!
Artistically, Mimpi is a treat for the eyes. It's got a textured, paper cut-out style, with an appealingly naïve optimism in every sprite that is the perfect counterpoint to Limbo's soul-destroying bleakness. If you enjoyed the bright colours of the recent Rayman games, you'll find something to like here, too.
Elsewhere, Silicon Jelly have channelled Amanita Designs, with a wonderfully weird soundtrack. There's a large number of tracks, which change as you move through the levels. Some of them loop a little too obviously if you hang around or get stuck on a puzzle, but it's a very minor complaint about an otherwise excellent production.
Conceptually, it's difficult to avoid repeated comparisons between Mimpi and Limbo – it really does feel like a more laid-back, casual version of the latter title. That's no bad thing, either. If you found Playdead's morbid platformer too dark for your tastes, this game's bright optimism might be just what you're looking for. It's a game about simple pleasures as you take your little dog on the weirdest walkies ever.
There are a number of missed opportunities here, notably the absence of Steamworks features like trading cards or achievements, which are difficult to justify, but overall this is a solid port of an excellently eccentric game.
Lots of variety, charming style, broad appeal.
Slippery physics, some abstruse puzzles, few PC-centric extras for this port.