Mushroom 11: Picking up where humanity left off

Players identify with the avatars they control: these are, in essence, a virtual extension of our own bodies. We have a natural inclination to preserve our virtual selves as best we can, to prevent harm or death from touching us.

Mushroom 11 pushes the boundaries of that commitment, asking players what they’re prepared to lose in order to progress. It’s a strange sensation to play as a character with no defined features, save for a green hue and pulsing veins. It's stranger still to realise that almost every part of you is disposable.

The amorphous organism you play as has a fixed mass. Deleting pieces of yourself with the left and right mouse buttons allows you to go into narrow spaces or roll forwards. This strange fungus is ever-changing, but it has substance. There are puzzles where you have to divide your body, keeping a piece on a switch while the rest makes its way through a door. It’s possible to anchor yourself in the
landscape, climbing through obstacles that wouldn’t be doable for conventional characters.
“ We want players to ask, ‘Are you something good in this world? Are you something bad? What happened and why?”
Itay Keren’s clever design has given birth to new concepts of videogame life and death. As long as a single piece remains, however small, your body can regenerate to full size within a couple of seconds. This seeming invulnerability has its limits, though.

In the wake of an unknown event, civilisation has been left in ruins. Odd creatures now own the crumbling cities and hostile wilderness. Some of them are benign and can be absorbed into your pulpy mass, while others are toxic and have to be approached, or avoided, with care.

The venomous spiders dangling from cave ceilings are particularly tricky. Touching their legs contaminates your body with a poison that spreads to every cell, turning it purple and necrotic. Only by deleting these toxic parts of yourself are you able to recover fully. However, if you manage to fall on these critters from a height, you can absorb their non-toxic bodies like other creatures.

As you roll and grow across the wasteland, there are vague hints on billboards that lend insight into what happened. It’s a nice change from relying on text or spoken dialogue to tell a story, and a haunting soundtrack provided by The Future Sound Of London helps cement a lonely, enticing atmosphere.

Mushroom 11 already looks fantastic. Untame Games is releasing first on desktop, but has expressed an interest in seeing it on as many other platforms as possible, particularly handhelds. There's no denying that from what we’ve played already, it certainly deserves that level of exposure.

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