I spent forever building my mice that robot arm, and now they just sit around all day playing music on the piano instead of working.
On a desert world, a family of rodents set out to cross the sand sea in search of a mythical fortune. Riding their ark, a bus repurposed as a rolling colony, they pass from settlement to settlement searching out clues and earning money to fuel their way.
In Of Mice and Sand Revised, that’s where you come in. It’s your job to chart the way for your mouse crew. This involves developing their bus with new facilities to feed, house, care for, or entertain your crew. It also means adding and enhancing workshops and factories to convert the detritus found along the way into manufactured goods that can be sold for money. This involves taking and combining raw materials, such as scrap metal, into components, like sheet metal or pipes, and then combining them into increasingly complex parts.
This gets to the heart of the game - even at 3x speed a lot of this game is waiting while your crew carries out your plan. As one mouse captains the ship to your next destination, others are busy cooking cheese soup, building the four burners you need to upgrade your furnace, or manning the guns to protect your ark from the beasts of the desert. More mice means more hands, but it also means more mouths to feed and more of your precious space devoted to housing.
How you feel about that style of game will impact if this is for you. I enjoyed pulling resources, and putting together a multi-stage plan to satisfy a money-making quest in town but the loop can become repetitious.
Often entering a new area, with its new dangers, involves multiple trips around the known world to prepare the team for their next trial and to earn enough cash to buy the hints that will guide them there. This can be slow, and given much of the game involves setting up manufacturing and navigational orders and waiting for them to finish, the pace can prove a detriment. Random events along the roadway present choices, “do I engage or run,” but they’re just a momentary distraction to be save-scummed if they turn out poorly.
The mice and their interactions are cute, watching them exclaim “ONWARD!” whenever the bus sets out or donning a chef’s hat to cook the team’s meals is a joy. The world’s design is full of fun jokes, crashed spaceships repurposed as settlements, and an entire prequel’s worth of Tatooine references.
Some issues with text blurriness cropped up on handheld mode, and the interface is crowded, loaded with text and at times confusing to navigate. Seemingly arbitrary limits, such as only queuing five work items per facility, limit effective planning for more involved construction. It is much easier to navigate the game via the touchscreen as the interface often appears as if it were built for touch devices. This is quite a good companion for gaming while watching sports on TV, so the sometimes blurry text in handheld mode and interface foibles are more noticeable.
Of Mice and Sand: Revisited is a fun resource management game. Building up the mice’s sandship to produce ever more complex goods requires thought and a good understanding of how the game operates. However, requirements to progress can slow it down and lead down the path of repetition. Even upgrades designed to maximize production capacity can’t fully address the pacing. Interface concerns dog the experience throughout. Still, it’s a fun diversion in short bursts and a welcome companion to TV, but finding the entire path to El Dorado might take a little too long for its own good.