I find it immensely difficult to dislike Drinkbox Studios, and frankly I have very little reason to. The charming team behind Tales From Space and Guacamelee! essentially has the endearing indie vibe on lockdown, and considering that their games are wonderfully crafted slices of classic gaming pie, I can really only see that as a good thing. Look — if your team can make a game about blobs that’s not just fun, but openly hilarious and interesting, then clearly you’ve got some talent on your hands. This is extremely evident in the console version of Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack.
I’m sure 2012’s Vita version was plenty lovely too, but with its touch-based controls and PlayStation Vita exclusivity (a console I was not an owner of at the time), it wasn’t something that jumped out and spoke to me. Thankfully, the PS3 port not only looks crisp, colorful, and lively, but plays exactly as a game like this ought to–in quick bursts of unpredictable, humorous fun.
Mutant Blobs Attack is equal parts puzzle game and platformer, and traversing its 24 levels is made simple with standard analog stick controls to move your blob around. Things get interesting as your blob acquires various abilities over the course of the game, each one allowing for more clever and occasionally head-scratching puzzles. The game does a fantastic job of making sure that player frustration is fleeting, but at the same time ensures that you’ll always spend at least a moment or two before wildly assaulting the next challenge head-on. This effect increases the further you progress, and you never actually get stuck for more than a few minutes — a satisfying solution is usually just a strategy-revision or two away.
Your powers as a blob are quite highly varied; you can attract and rebuff magnetic material, absorb obstacles that lay in your path, or even hover when the gravity of a given stage is altered. Abilities are added often, and the mix of using them in conjunction with pure muscle memory and coordination are what make the levels so continuously interesting. It’s not Rayman-esque muscle memory — where you have to repeatedly die in order to learn and advance — but rather reactionary skill mixed with practice. I didn’t die too terribly often, but there were some scenarios for which I had nearly no chance of success on the first try. Your mileage will vary here, but for me the level of challenge presented was just right.
I mentioned absorbing obstacles, and the reality of this mechanic is that it’s almost Katamari Damacy-like — you simply won’t be able to progress past certain areas or “roadblocks” until you increase the size of your blob. Blobs can merge with most of the junk found in a stage, beginning with food items, scrap, and the coins littered throughout the levels, but by the end of the game you’ll be sucking in oversized vehicles and even buildings in some cases. If you choose to eat humans it can be pretty entertaining, and the hilarity of a screaming civilian being devoured into your blob’s slimy folds is basically the sort of comedy you can expect throughout. It’s not for everyone, but it certainly doesn’t detract in any way.
At the end of the day, Mutant Blobs Attack isn’t particularly complex; for some players, it may get old fast for that reason. Additionally, if you’re immune to the game’s visual and aural charms, then loving it for the puzzle-platforming alone may not be easy. That said, for me gameplay was a blast that presented just the right amount of challenge, and even if I didn’t always discover a solution right away, I could usually horde debris within my blob and increase its size while I waited to figure it out.
I do wish Mutant Blobs Attack had more levels, and that’s probably my one and only genuine gripe. The title came out on Vita years ago, so why not jam-pack this new edition with extra stages? I’m not suggesting that they’re easy to create, but still, I’d gladly play through twice as many challenges as what’s included here, and I doubt I’d come close to getting bored. There are mini-challenges present, such as motion-controlled maze-rolling and timed sprints to gobble as much debris as possible, but they’re a tad hit-or-miss and serve as distractions more than anything else. I take no issue with them, they just don’t add a whole lot.
If you’re okay with the minor gripes described above and generally like what Drinkbox has to offer, then Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack ought to be a no-brainer. Buy it, laugh, have fun, repeat — you know the drill. For me, games like this are ultra-refreshing, so if you’re looking for a way to save time, money, and emotional trauma as an alternative to the latest AAA shooter, you needn’t look any further. Heck, I’d pay full price for it.
This review is based on the PS3 version of the game, which was provided to us.
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a cleverly-designed platformer rife with smart puzzles, fun blob gameplay, and humor. Its weaknesses -- that it ought to have more levels and that some players may find it unchallenging at times -- are minor, and if charm and fun factor are your main concerns, then don't hesitate to give it a try.