“The Mouse Who Woke Up for Christmas” is a long parser-based game about a mouse trying to prepare for the holiday. In order to get everything ready in time, he has to scour his surroundings for the appropriate items he needs.

Gameplay: The game takes place in a large world containing more items and puzzles than most competition entries. It’s an impressive scope, though it’s sometimes difficult to figure out where to go next without a walkthrough. The protagonist meets a variety of animal NPCs, but most of them are single-note characters used for only one puzzle. Still, it’s fun to wander around a human’s backyard as a mouse, and the puzzles are more invovled than just using one item on another. 5/10.

Mechanics: The game is a puzzlefest, and it would be difficult to solve the puzzles without a walkthrough. Some of the puzzles involve considerable leaps in logic, like the one involving tying a crow’s skull to a metal bar to make a “crowbar.” The openness of the world often makes it hard to progress, since it’s unclear where the player’s attention should be focused. 6/10.

Presentation: Although I enjoyed the descriptions of the backyard from a mouse’s perspective, the text had numerous typos (e.g., “You’re not tryying to tell me what to do”) and lots of missing punctuation. There was also several instances of what look like coding errors in responses, as in WAKE CAT -> “You can’t wake up;wake her.” The tone of the game of inconsistent, and it’s unclear in places what the author had in mind.

The story starts out with a pyjama-clad mouse putting his daughter to bed before Christmas, which suggests that it’s going to be a twee story for children. Shortly thereafter, the mouse encounters a pigeon using profanity. (I have no problem with profanity itself; it’s the switch in tone that’s jarring.) After that, there’s a snail whose description mentions that he’s not fully implemented yet, and the player can have him eat a source code listing to give him a more thorough description. That combination of storybook animals, profanity, and meta-jokes about coding is an odd one, and the game feels like a crazy quilt of tone rather than setting.

Tilt: One of the characters is a corvid (specifically, a magpie) who’s involved in a few puzzles. +1.

You might be interested in this game if: You want to a play game a puzzlefest that has a large number of puzzles but still has a compact world.

Score: 5

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