Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey

It’s awesome when a highly anticipated game turns out to be great at launch. Titles like Biomutant, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, and recently Cris Tales promised big and delivered on those promises. Sometimes, though, it’s the more unassuming games that manage to leave us utterly satisfied and impressed. Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey is one such game. And though it’s been widely available for about two years, the puzzle-platformer from developer Proud Dinosaurs was just recently released on Nintendo Switch — and I have to tell ya, it’s really, really good.

First things first — what the heck is a macrotis? Before I checked on the Internet, I would’ve probably started this review by saying something along the lines of, “In Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey, you play as a rat-looking… thingy.” Truth be told, I’d never heard the word “macrotis” mentioned before in my life. Even now, because I’ve only read about these things, and because I haven’t checked YouTube, I’m not even sure how one would pronounce “macrotis.” (I’ll check later, though.)

In any case, I was completely comfortable thinking that the protagonist in Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey was just a rat-looking… thingy — but it’s actually more than just a rat-looking… thingy. A macrotis is apparently an Australian marsupial. These critters are typically known as bilbies, though they’re affectionately referred to as rabbit-eared bandicoots, or simply rabbit-bandicoots. Obviously, it probably wouldn’t be wise to use the word “bandicoot” in the title of a game that isn’t Crash Bandicoot, but “macrotis” just seems a little strange to me. I don’t know — what do you all think about Bilby: A Mother’s Journey?

Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey

Anyway, moving on…

My qualms with the game’s title aside, Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey is an impressive little puzzle-platformer. Admittedly, it doesn’t do much that’s really uncharted territory for the genre, but everything it does is so polished and well-done that it’s impossible to deny the game’s quality and fun factor. The puzzle designs are tight and pose a fair challenge — save for maybe two or three exceptions, you’ll probably never find yourself frustrated by any of the game’s puzzles.

Aside from clever uses of traditional puzzle-platformer gameplay — like block-pushing, switch-flicking, and elevator-triggering — you’ll also use magic abilities bestowed upon our protagonist bilby by a wizard (yes, there’s a wizard in this game). You can create walls that serve multiple purposes. These can be used as platforms, or you can wall-jump off them. You can also use them to keep doors from closing while you’re triggering different switches.

Using magic, you can create a ghost-like double of yourself. Though it has some limitations, this double can still push and pull blocks, flip switches, and create walls. You can also walk through thin walls in spirit form. While you control your spirit, the real, physical bilby will stand still, which means she can be used as a makeshift block on switches when necessary.

Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey

There were times when Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey reminded me of Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, which is easily one of my favorite puzzle-platformers of the last few years. This is due to the flow of the puzzles, which take place in single-screen rooms but have a bunch of moving parts. You’ll experiment a little and see what works and what doesn’t. Once a couple of things start clicking, though, everything just sort of starts falling into place and begins triggering those feelings of accomplishment.

Though I can’t say much about the other console or PC versions of Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey, the game definitely feels tailored to the handheld nature of the Switch. I played most of the game while leaning back on my recliner, and it was a perfect fit for that type of relaxed experience.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the game’s graphics reminded me of a cross between the aforementioned Trine 4 and Donkey Kong Country. It looks pretty great overall, though I do wish there was a bit more variety. As it is, there are a lot of dark and dreary environments. These look good, but the more lush, green stages looked so nice that I would’ve loved to see more of them.

Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey

I wasn’t too crazy about the sepia, slideshow-like story sequences. That’s partially because I didn’t care much for the presentation, but also because the story was a little hokey at times. Of course, these issues are merely superficial, and I was able to look past them because of how much fun I was having playing the game.

Depending on how long it takes you to solve the many wonderful puzzles thrown at you, Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey will take you anywhere from two to four hours. It’s a decent length and fits in nicely if you’re looking for something to play for an evening or two when you just want to chill with a cool game.

It would be difficult to fault anyone for never having heard of Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey, both during its initial run and even now that it’s available on Switch. Not to mention, if you’re a fool like me and never heard the word “macrotis,” you might think this game is about robots or something. That said, I definitely wish more people talked about it, because it’s a fine title that’s sure to bring joy to anyone who loves a good game and gives this one the time of day.

Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey

You really should play Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey. You might end up surprised at just how enjoyable this quaint little puzzler is.

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