At first I was a little lukewarm with MouseBot: Escape from CatLab. Judging from the screenshots and teasers I’d seen prior to release, I was expecting more of a full-blown, 3D adventure in the style of those listed above. I’ll have to admit I was a little disappointed to discover the end result was more of an arcade experience with short challenges, rather than an exploratory adventure, but once I accepted MouseLab for what it is instead of what it isn’t, I started to have a lot of fun with it.
The game’s premise is built on the efforts of the feline scientists at CatLab, as they attempt to create the ultimate mousetrap. Charming cutscenes between levels depict their fate, as each failed scientist is gruesomely replaced with one who believes they have the ultimate contraption with which to hamper your efforts.
If you’ve played Vector Unit’s racing games, you’ll know they control well, and will feel at home in MouseLab. Controlling your mechanical mouse vehicle with the Siri Remote works fine, but a proper controller brings out this game’s best, as the precision offered by a gamepad is essential to conquering the fiendish trials that lie ahead.
Players are tasked with racing through all manner of nasty obstacles: spiked rollers, swinging blades, floating mines, lasers, and much more. The controls are precise, enabling satisfying thrills as you skirt inches from death’s tools, all depicted by silky smooth animation.
Levels are nicely varied, as new challenges are presented and combined with previous ones. Water-based trials even provide a fun nod to the studio’s Riptide series, with rolling waves adding a new puzzle element a few levels in.
Play unlocks new cosmetic skins and accessories with which to outfit your MouseBot, making for fun mix-and-match collectibles, and more reasons to try and try again.
The visuals do a great job of capturing the polygon-feel from a couple of hardware generations ago, and it’s an interesting combination mixing this aesthetic with what essentially adds up to a modern 3D auto-runner. Your MouseBot can’t actually be stopped, although turning sharply slows it right down, which becomes essential to navigating through the various nasties successfully.
While MouseBot is free to download and play via a ticketing system, a premium unlock enables endless play. There are stacks of levels offering good bang for your buck, and it would be easy to imagine a future of updates bringing new cosmetics and levels. Hopefully the game is a success for the studio in order to enable that future, as it always nice to have more of a good thing.
In A Nutshell:
MouseBot: Escape from CatLab is a fun mix of ‘90s 3D platform gaming, with studio Vector Unit’s vehicular competence, and one-more-go arcade goodness.