Mold an amorphous organism in the inventive puzzler, Mushroom 11

It's the end of the world. Can you survive as a neon blob in this wasteland?

ysp mushroom11 lead

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These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Post-apocalyptic games often feature a dude with a gun, blasting away mutants and monsters amidst a crumbling wasteland—but Mushroom 11 is quite a bit different. It keeps the wasteland setting, punctuated with ruined sights of mankind’s existence in the backdrop, but there are no humans or firearms in sight: just a green blob.

And you’ll control that mushroom blob in a very unique and touch-friendly way: by prodding it with your fingers. Doing so kills its nearest cells and causes them to quickly regenerate elsewhere in the form, allowing you to nudge it through the world, send it through tight spaces, and slice it up into bits as needed. You’ll do all of that to navigate the levels, which are filled with pools of lava and acid, grotesque mutant enemies, and plenty of wreckage in your path.

ysp mushroom11 lava Untame

The white circle is where my finger is pressing, although I’ll probably need another one to block off that lava at the bottom.

Mushroom 11 started off on Mac and PC, but actually feels most at home on an iPhone or iPad, where one or more fingers can be used to manipulate the malleable creature to overcome each puzzling platform challenge. It’s a true original, and surely one of the most interesting new releases so far in 2017.

Intrigued? Here’s why Mushroom 11 is a can’t-miss iOS puzzler.

One-of-a-kind action: I can’t think of any game that’s even remotely similar to Mushroom 11, simply because of how the organism works: it’s so effortless and ingenious, and it totally changes how you’ll approach these puzzle-platforming challenges. Everything in the game boils down to molding and reshaping the creature, whether it’s to make it move left or right, climb along the side of a surface, or speedily blast through a tight space in the world.

ysp mushroom11 fall Untame

Here I had to wrap my blob around this large stone and tip it into the water, thus landing on the switch that opens to lower left gate.

When I say “effortless,” I mean that it feels logical and responsive—not that it’s particularly easy. The green mushroom reacts to every touch, but figuring out how to harness your abilities to meet each challenge can take some experimentation. You’ll need to learn where to press your finger and how hard, or when to use multiple fingers. And the environment itself often comes into play, like when you’re trying to safely dangle the blob over an edge above a sizzling pool of hot lava.

It only gets wilder: Mushroom 11 thankfully eases you into the process of learning how to maneuver the organism, but then it kicks up the difficulty and starts pushing you through intense gauntlets of obstacles. You’ll guide the blob through long series of rusted machines, use a shredder to shoot little bits of it to safety, and even face heinous, screen-filling boss enemies. In one memorable instance, I had to turn the mushroom into a ramp to fling the foe’s explosive projectiles back into its own face.

ysp mushroom11 boss Untame

The pinkish bubble is a bomb tossed by this boss, but I turned the mushroom into a makeshift ramp to make the explosive launch right back towards it.

Even as the challenges become even more daunting, I love how Mushroom 11 stays approachable. Each new obstacle might be difficult to execute, but there’s rarely confusion about what you need to do to move on—you just need to figure out how. And the mushroom’s malleable design unlocks so many puzzle possibilities.

It’s perfect for touch: Although Mushroom 11 was first released for computers, developer Untame says it was initially designed for touch—and it really shows, given how smart and responsive it all feels here. This is a pretty meaty and challenging puzzle adventure, yet it’s all boiled down to simple touch interactions. Mushroom 11 certainly isn’t a casual game, but at least the controls stay understandable throughout.

ysp mushroom11 fence Untame

Multitouch controls can come in handy, like when navigating through this fence-like grid.

It may take you a while to clear each of the game’s seven worlds, especially as the difficulty level increases, but frequent checkpoints ensure that you can play for even a few minutes at a time without losing progress. Likewise, when your mushroom burns up in lava or gets the business end of a fireball, you’ll be right back in action without losing a step. Paired with the grungy, lived-in environments and atmospheric soundtrack from The Future Sound of London, Mushroom 11 makes a strong, one-of-a-kind impression. 

Developer: Untame
Platform: iOS (Universal)
Price: $5

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