Review: Mimic Hunter

Store page / View this review on Steam

Review copy provided by developer via Curator Connect

I hate writing reviews like this. I hate having to take a hatchet to a unique and promising game because of a fatal misstep. Give me aggressively bad games to slag, or mediocre time-wasters to meh at, but don’t give me something good that shoots itself in the foot. But alas, that’s precisely where we are with Mimic Hunter. I was immediately hooked by the unusual look and feel of this one, and there appeared to be plenty of depth behind those appearances as well. If only it hadn’t fallen prey to that killer of so many indie titles, the dreaded difficulty spike, we could be celebrating a real gem. If only.

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Mimic Hunter is the tale of Monsieur Ratimousse, a grim, anthropomorphic mouse charged with ridding his equally grim world of mimics. True to their name mimics imitate chests and sacks to lure unsuspecting souls into their clutches, but here these creatures are powered by a mysterious force known as the Unbound. Able to tap this power himself, Ratimousse is positioned to unravel the secrets of his world and a demonic force bearing down on it. To do that though, he’ll need to scale some of the deadliest towers in the world in search of relics of the past and clues for the future.

All of the action in Mimic Hunter takes place in these towers, or rather around the outside of them. It’s a 2D platformer but the stages are vertical affairs, wrapped around a cylinder you can scale and move around. The visual effect is quite well done and manages to avoid obscuring important features like platforms or traps, though it does take some getting used to. Ratimousse can build up some impressive momentum for his double-jumps and you’ll need to use that to clear some jumps that span the entire visible area. You’ll also need to learn real quick the differences between safe platforms and crumbling ones, basic enemies and poisonous foes, and exactly how much clearance you need both over and under spikes.

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The tutorial does a fine job of acclimating you to all your powers and potential pitfalls, and then starts you off into the campaign with scaling a crumbling witch’s tower. Through extensive dialog, notes, and even a little environmental storytelling the tale comes alive, a twisting narrative of eldritch powers and ancient covens and deadly peril. It’s clear a great deal of thought went into the world, both in the story and in how that is expressed through the level itself, which gives the game a very effective hook. I was pretty pumped to scale the tower and start unraveling mysteries myself, but I soon discovered that revelations were not in the cards for me.

Right away, Mimic Hunter expects you to make enormous leaps of faith and precision jumps over deadly traps. It expects you to master the air control from your double jump, and the cadence of swordfights. The further I got into the very first campaign level the less it felt like an intro, killing me over and over again with timed traps that allowed no margin for error and tricky jumps over fields of inescapable spikes. While I was still struggling to work out what items I needed to find to open new doors, the game was throwing moving platform segments lined with deathtraps at me that took a dozen or more tries to clear.

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For a casual or exploration-based game the controls would be more than adequate, but with so much precision involved they quickly became a liability. Ratimousse can build up serious momentum like I said but that’s because movement is very slippery throughout, which leads to frustrating falls more often than it should. Enemies can also buffet you around with ease and even stunlock you to death if they get you cornered. Ground-based foes aren’t too much trouble but the bats are absolutely maddening to deal with, swooping away from your slow swings and hitting you over and over until you fall to your doom or expire. They’re viciously out of place with the rest of the game and the difficulty in combating them honestly makes segments they appear in maddening at best and unplayable at worst.

And that’s where I ended up after a single hour, with a game that’s simply unplayably hard. I get that Mimic Hunter is meant to be a “hardcore platformer” in a more thoughtful, methodical way but the tuning is far too off to make it enjoyable. There’s no buildup to the blistering challenges, you’re forced into them right away. You have limited tries as well, and I ended up with a checkpoint near the end of the first level where I didn’t have enough lives left to beat it, meaning I either needed to perfect my game or restart the entire level. I wish I could say I toughed it out but I don’t have the patience for this kind of unforgiving punishment. Judging from the achievements and the 5% of players who’ve even beaten a tower, not many others do either. And if that’s the case, one has to wonder who this game is even for? It could have been for me if it were tuned for regular players, but in chasing that hardcore crowd Mimic Hunter has driven away most of its audience as so many indie platformers have sadly done before it.

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