Developer: Atelier 801
Publisher: Atelier 801
It bills itself as an “MMO platformer” but it’s really a game of co-operation, confusion and callousness. A horde of small mice are at one end of a screen – you are one of them. At the other is a delicious piece of cheese. You want the cheese, but so does everyone else. It’s out of reach, perhaps floating in mid-air or resting across an impassable gap. The only way you’re gonna return it to your mousehole is by working together.
There’s another important element. One player is a shaman who builds objects – small platforms, balloon-powered lifts, etc. They cause co-op mayhem, sometimes helping, sometimes hindering. As the mage mouse, it’s a trollish game of placing sort-of-useful objects for your fellow rodents to use. The classic example of this is placing a see-saw over a large gap. Too many mice on one end, and it’ll tip. They have to intuitively organise themselves on both ends, to find a balance. But then, if you’re on this side, you have a better shot at the cheese, right?
Transformice understands something many co-op games don’t. Sometimes you are only co-operating with someone as a means to an end, with selfish motives that conflict with the very person you’re helping. Transformice puts selfishness at the heart of its co-op, and becomes a funnier game for it.
Notes: It began life as a free web game but got an eventual Steam release in 2015, prettified and expanded.
Where can I buy it: You don’t, it’s still free-to-play.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Not quite the same, but Agar.io has some similar moments of shifting allegiances.
Read more: Here’s Shawn on its mousey vision of competitive collaboration.