Mooch is a game on Steam where you play as a fellow named Blink, wandering around a grim world, collecting the fragments of his friend’s soul.
But Mooch isn’t the true subject of this post! Rather, let’s talk about Mooch: The Escape.
The Escape is sort of a spin-off game focused on collecting as much soul fragments as possible in an infinite-runner type deal. You move Blink onward as spinning blades forces him to keep moving, collecting fragments and avoiding traps. The traps vary based on the world you’re playing in, with one world being available from the start with others unlocking by meeting score requirements.
The game isn’t procedurally generated as one might think, rather, you’re moving through crafted levels. Each world has its own set of levels and when you reach the teleporter at the end, you’re brought to the start of a random level from the same set – perhaps you’ll even get stuck going through the same level again, with collected fragments respawned. This encourages memorization of traps you’ll come across to make later playthroughs easier, though it misses out on any elements of surprise that’d keep you on your toes.
The level looping continues until Blink trips up, another one of those games where the character dies in one hit. The final score is based on the number of fragments collected and time spent alive. Rather than add to your score however, the time spent alive subtracts points from the score. This sort of pushes you to prioritize getting soul fragments and taking risks over merely dodging everything to stay alive.
I’m at a weird position with regards to the game’s aesthetics. Mooch tries to go for a dark aesthetic and for the official game, I think it works well. Part of why it seems to work well in its original context is the darkness effects, with much of the level sort of shrouded, leaving you to rely on Blink’s vision cone. In The Escape, those effects aren’t really there. All these bloodstained saws and traps instead exist in a comparatively bright atmosphere and without the proper atmosphere, they seem kinda try-hardy. Blink in the meantime still has those lights coming from his eyes, which now feels wildly out of place in this spin-off.
To me it feels that The Escape is just a simple tie-in game for Mooch and if that’s what the creator’s intent was, they succeeded. However, if it’s to act as a sort of introduction to Mooch, it just doesn’t feel fully representative of the original work.