Don’t blow up the captives.
Tucked away in a corner of Team17’s booth was a demo of a curious game by the name of Mugsters. The premise is that aliens have taken over the planet and enslaved humanity, and you must free your fellow Earthlings, but that was neither readily apparent nor terribly relevant to the demo’s gameplay.
In the demo there was a hub island of sorts, from which you warped to other islands that each served as a level. In each level, the primary task is to escape the island, but there are also other secondary tasks such as freeing captive humans, destroying generators, and collecting gems. The game is presented in an isometric view and players run and jump around and interact with objects like cars, rocks, and explosives to solve the physics-based puzzles and escape via a plane. The demo provided the option of solo or two player co-op. Co-op played pretty much the same as solo for the early levels on display that I tried out, but it added a satisfying layer of collaboration and mischief. You can divvy up tasks or, if so inclined, blowing up or running over your buddy. (Hey, collateral damage!) As long as one of the players is still alive, the other will respawn in a rescue capsule, which must be grabbed and thrown by the surviving player, Donkey Kong Country style, so there isn’t too much of a penalty for a little roughhousing.
The presentation is simple but effective, with clean visuals and satisfyingly cartoonish sound effects. The demo was running on a PC, but since the game is fairly simple, the PC demo should be representative of the game on all platforms including Switch. I found the controls to be a bit slippery, but that kind of added to the challenge since running and driving comes with risk. It seemed like the design also allows for multiple solutions to a given problem, such as destructible walls that can be rammed through with a vehicle or blown up with dynamite. This may be a good game for speed runs.
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with the Mugsters demo, but I had fun both while playing alone and with my sadistic colleague, James Jones. Mugsters is definitely worth a look when it comes out this summer.