Game: Smushi Come Home
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Puzzle, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam (Windows & Linux))
Developer|Publisher: SomeHumbleOnion | Mooneye Studios
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US E
Price: UK £16.99 | US $19.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: June 10th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Mooneye Studios.
A Wholesome Game
There are many reasons why we play games. Some want to be challenged, some want to escape, some want to laugh with friends, and some just want to relax and feel good. Smushi Come Home flew in on a leaf at the recent Wholesome Direct to melt your heart and give you a video game cuddle. Smushi achieves many things in this short and colourful 3D platform adventure.
It makes mushrooms cool, something I didn’t think I would be writing in a review. But most of all, it’s probably the sweetest adventure I have played this year; it plays well and absolutely nails what it sets out to achieve. I absolutely recommend it if you are looking for a wholesome feel-good adventure. But I guess you need more than that opening, so read on.
Life Advice From a Mushroom
You play as the cute squishy mushroom, Smushi, who’s out on the island with the family hanging out as mushroom creatures do. But sometimes adventure calls, and after helping out one of his fellow mushrooms, he gets grabbed by a bird and carried far away into the forest. The goal of the game is pretty simple, just find your way home. In order to do that, you’ll need to carry out some straightforward quests for NPCs whilst enjoying plenty of exploration in a few large open areas.
The star of the show, Smushi, is innocent and utterly adorable. He looks at the world with kindness and curiosity. Interactions with NPCs are text-based requiring only a basic reading ability to enjoy. My favourite moments in Smushi Come Home were when Smushi would be dealing with a rude NPC who sees the world a bit more negatively, yet Smushi responds with kindness and after completing their quest turns their opinions around on the world. Smushi even offers simple, kind words of advice to NPCs, such as trying your best and not needing to act tough all the time. Advice even the most hardened of gamers will be moved by.
Play Your Way
Smushi is a game that lets you play at your own pace. Controls are easy to use. Simple run and jump controls that feel comfortable and accessible. Even the camera feels fluid. Not long into the game, you unlock several new moves, such as the ability to climb up walls with little hooks and a leaf to glide around with. No doubt many will make comparisons to Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Or Tears of the Kingdom) since the game even incorporates a stamina system. When a new move is presented, the controls are made clear on the screen.
Failure is impossible. There are no enemies to defeat, and you can’t even die if you fall from a great height.Smushi Come Home is about as stress-free as you can get. That’s not to say there isn’t a challenge. Some of the puzzles will provide mild head scratches and platforming challenges. There were multiple times when I climbed up to a series of platforms only to misplace my footing and fall all the way back to the base of the forest. Even when this happened, I wasn’t really angry or bothered. The controls are so comfortable I gladly just tried again. I was honestly just so happy exploring this world, whether I was making progress or not. The ball is in your court.
You can choose to explore every nook of the map seeking out crystals, taking on mini-quests and unlocking new cosmetics. Or, if you choose, you can simply focus on the main mission at hand. The game features the opportunity to upgrade your abilities which makes a notable impact on gameplay. But if you choose not to do these extras, it won’t hinder your progress.
Feel Good and Learn
Graphically the game is colourful and vibrant. Just walking into this game instantly relaxed my body and filled me with sunshine. The large open 3D areas feel alive with plant life as well as uniquely designed NPCs which range from rock creatures to various unusual animals. All of which have this cute design of squishy bodies and simple black dot eyes. Any of them could easily be turned into a cuddly toy, and if I had the finances, I’d buy one of Smushi.
You’ll explore lush forest settings, caves and large lakes where you can travel by the most interesting of transports (but I won’t spoil that here). The game even features impressive lighting effects in the cave areas. It runs exceptionally well in TV and handheld modes, with no notable dipping in performance or glitching. The soundtrack has this retro feel to it, almost like it has come from the Game Boy. If you want to, you can even make the graphics more pixelated in the options. It sounds like an odd choice for sound, but it works well with the simple design. It feels relaxing, like you’re taking a walk through the forest.
Suitable For All Audiences
It goes without saying that Smushi is suitable for absolutely all audiences. A feature that really stood out to me was the game’s incorporation of education. As you explore the world, you’ll come across various mushroom types. By simply touching them, you’ll unlock a fact sheet about the mushroom, which is kept simple and to the point. I was genuinely interested in learning about the different varieties. I highly praise the developers for incorporating this into their game. Something rarely attempted in video games in general.
I guess I need to try to highlight some niggles. Sometimes I did get a bit lost, and although the game gives you a map, it’s hard to gauge your bearings as the icons on the screen in handheld are tiny. In one area, the icon for Smushi was just absent. The only other niggle I can think of is I didn’t want the game to end. If the developers do come back to this world, it would be great to see the same idea with a larger scope.
Conclusion: Makes Me Want to be a Better Person
Not long ago, I watched a film starring Nicholas Cage, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. There’s a scene where Nicholas Cage (starring as himself) is talking about his favourite films, and his fan, played by Pedro Pascal, says Paddington 2 (an excellent film which I recommend). Taken back by the response, Cage asks for more information, and Pascal explains the film made him want to be a better person. That quote is probably the best way I felt coming out of Smushi Come Home.
On observation, some might not see the point of a game lacking significant challenges. I often feel this way while playing some walking simulators, but Smushi is one that lets the player go at their own pace in a stress-free setting. Explore as much as you want, engage with the quests or simply focus on the main mission. It’s so rare to see a game incorporate education well into the design by learning about real-life mushrooms. The biggest achievement of all is the game just made me feel good. As someone who works a high-stress job, it’s greatly appreciated. So absolutely buy Smushi Come Home, and then consider gifting it to your friend who needs a hug or a smush if you prefer.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up