Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey
Gameplay 7
Graphics 8
Sound 7

Help Mother Bilby to navigate some treacherous underground passages in an attempt to find her lost children. Macrotis is a non-violent puzzle platformer with a couple of tricky platform sections, but overall the emphasis is firmly on the puzzles. Some might find the lack of hand holding from the game a little frustrating, but figuring out the puzzles, even if it takes a bit of trial and error, is very rewarding. Anthropomorphic animal platform heroes is not a new concept, but Macrotis does a good job with making Mother Bilby’s quest a memorable one.

Gameplay: A puzzle platformer that isn’t afraid to let you mess things up badly enough that you have to restart the puzzles.

Graphics: The 2.5D visuals are vibrant and detailed.

Sound: Full voices for the characters and some nice background tunes

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Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey

Developer: Proud Dinosaurs | Publisher: Orsam Information Technologies | Release Date: 2019 | Genre: Platformer / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

The birth of her youngest daughter was supposed to be a joyous occasion for Mother Bilby, especially as the child was born during the summer rains, which is believed to be a time of good luck. However, the rain continued to fall and turned into a huge hurricane that caused widespread flooding. Things got bad enough that all the animals began fleeing, but this was not an option for the Bilby family. Instead, they tried their best to barricade their underground home against the flood as a journey would be impossible with a newborn. Unfortunately, the water inevitably got in and washed everyone away, which caused Mother Bilby to become separated from her children. It is up to players to help her survive the perils of the underground where she ends up as she journeys back up to the surface to find her children. Along the way, it will also become clear that there is a lot more at stake and that escaping the underground won’t be the only challenge that players will have to overcome.

We’ve seen some pretty unique animal protagonists before, especially during the 2D platformer heyday of the 16bit era, but Macrotis is still something unique. The hero of the story is Mother Bilby, who is a long eared, pointy nosed marsupial, which just happens to be an endangered species in real-life. While Mother Bilby shares the physical features of rabbit-eared bandicoots, as they are also commonly known, she is able to talk and walk on two feet, as expected from a platform game star. Something else that Mother Bilby has in common with actual bilbies is the fact that she would rather avoid confrontation if possible. Fortunately, the underground tunnels in which she finds herself is devoid of enemies, which means there’s no need to bounce on the heads of enemies or engage in any kind of combat. One thing that you will find in abundance, however, is puzzles.

As is the norm for puzzle platformers, your way back to the surface isn’t exactly straightforward and you’ll find plenty of obstacles to halt your progress. Thankfully, what Mother Bilby lacks in combat skills, she more than makes up for with some nifty survival skills. In addition to being able to gnaw through certain vines, she is also able to jump, climb and tiptoe across brittle platforms, and even wall jump. All of these abilities will be put to the test as you navigate your way through the four chapters standing between Mother Bilby and her children. We don’t want to spoil too much about the story, but halfway through the game players also discover some new facts about the never-ending rain and encounters a kind wizard who imbues Mother Bilby with some new magical abilities. These new tricks include the ability to make a ghostly copy of yourself that can pass through walls as well as the power to raise up to three barriers from the ground. You will have to make good use of all these skills as the puzzles you encounter become more and more complex as you progress through the game.

Although Macrotis is a platformer, it is the puzzles that provide the bulk of the challenges in the game. Some of the platforming sections are definitely on the tricky side, especially the ones where you have to keep up with a raft while navigating a gauntlet of platforms. However, these are all things that fans of the genre are very familiar with and there’s nothing that can’t be overcome with a little luck and perseverance. It is the puzzle sections that are the most satisfying to solve as some of them offer some genuine head scratching moments. Most of the puzzles take the form of various combinations of pressure plates, levers, moving platforms, doors and barriers. It is up to players to figure out which ones need to be manipulated in what order to proceed. Some are straightforward, while others require a little more trial and error before it becomes clear what is expected from you. We can definitely see how this can be a little frustrating for some players as the game is happy to let you continue even if you manage to mess up a puzzle so badly that there is no way in which it can be completed anymore. The game leaves it up to you to realize the error of your ways and restart the puzzle, which can be done in one of two ways. Either you pause the game and select “Restart Puzzle” from the menu, or if you have the heart, you can press the shortcut button, which causes Mother Bilby to drop crying to her knees. Just be careful with the latter, as we found ourself using it so much that we accidentally pressed it when actually intending to make use of the magical abilities. Needless to say, this can be extremely annoying if you were on the verge of completing a puzzle!

Visually, Macrotis reminded us a bit of the early Trine games in terms of look and feel. The 2.5D visuals are crisp and clear with plenty of detail and lots of colors. Mother Bilby is pretty much the only character in the game, but you will occasionally see other critters, such as frogs and spiders, lurking in the background. Those suffering from arachnophobia need not fear, though, as the developers have graciously included the option to remove the spiders from the game. Ad for Mother Bilby, she does make for a rather distinctive character with her long ears, tail and nose. She also features plenty of animations and watching her perform all kinds of feats is rather adorable. The game also features more variety than what we expected considering it all takes place underground, but the last two chapters in particular feature some interesting backdrops.

The audio for this game is quite good and all of the music tracks are mellow, but not obtrusive. This is a good thing as having to listen to annoying music while stuck on a puzzle can very quickly become aggravating. The voice acting divided our team a bit as Mother Bilby speaks with a human voice. Some of us thought that this was fine while others believe that small furry animals have no business speaking in human voices, especially not about about topics like meditation and picnics. Apart from Mother Bilby, the only other character in the game with a voice is the wizard, who sounded similar enough to Deckard Cain from the Diablo series that we had to double check to make sure it’s not the same voice actor. The voices can become a little annoying if you have to keep listening to the same speech after restarting a puzzle, though. The sound effects are all fairly decent and nothing stood out as particularly exciting or annoying. Macrotis features a few more buttons than a standard platform game, due to all the abilities your character has, but overall everything was easy enough to master. We had the occasional issue with pressing the “restart puzzle” button instead of activating the power we actually wanted to use, but this was our fault and not the game. Jumping can also feel a little squirrelly, but overall everything is responsive enough.

In total, it took us about six hours to complete Macrotis, including the time it took to go back and find all the books hidden away on each chapter. While four chapters don’t sound like a lot, especially with the first one serving mostly as a tutorial, it definitely takes a while to work through all of the puzzles. Thankfully, the game auto saves before each puzzle, so if you get stuck you can always take a break and tackle it with fresh eyes. Depending on your opinion of anthropomorphic animals, the story can also be a bit of a tearjerker. At the end of the day, Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey is not the longest, prettiest or most challenging puzzle platformer on the market, but it definitely offers a solid experience if you are a fan of the genre. The level designs are good, the puzzles rewarding to solve and the story interesting enough to drive players forward. Some players might not appreciate being left to their own devices when it comes to solving these puzzles, but it’s all part of the challenge. So, if you are looking for a non-violent puzzle platformer featuring a unique character with unique abilities, then Macrotis is a safe bet.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i3
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 840M
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 6 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Not final and can be subject to change.
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i5
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 6 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Not final and can be subject to change.

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