Mitten is such a lovely word, don’t you agree? Between this, To The Moon and Journey, I’ve played several games lately that are largely relaxing and laid-back, with no antagonist, and just a distant goal to reach.
Marvin’s Mittens is the first game by Canadian indie developer Breakfall. It boasts hand-drawn art, a lovely soundtrack and a serene world to explore. It’s a 2D platformer that focuses on exploration, and there are no enemies and no danger. If you’re sold already, you can find the game over on Desura. (It’s currently trying to get through Steam Greenlight as well.)
Marvin is a little boy out playing in the snow when someone or something snatches one of his mittens away. He tries to brush it off, but the other mitten insists on him heading out to find its twin. It’s a bit of magic, just go with it. The very next day you set out into the woods to see if you can figure out where the mitten thief went.
You can choose to play with an XBox controller or the keyboard, but either way the controls are simple. You can go left and right, you can jump and you can occasionally interact with things. It starts out really simple, and slowly adds new things to make it more interesting.
You pretty quickly gain the ability to soar slightly. This also unlocks special snowflakes in each area that you can collect to boost how long/high you can soar. The higher you can fly, the further you can progress and the more snowflakes you can find. There are also hidden nooks, crannies and tunnels in many of the areas, so take your time and look around.
It might not be as tight as Rayman Origins, but I thought the controls felt pretty good. I used the keyboard, though I wonder if maybe it was meant to be played with a controller, but I really had no big issues. The keyboard layout screen omits a bit though, as you can use WASD to control in-game, even if the menu only works with the arrow keys. (S is to take out and put away the sled.)
In addition there are also several animals you can find and sketch down. Marvin likes sketching, and has even drawn his own map which he adds more to as he progresses. It’s all really adorable, and once you have sketched an animal you will then find it around your house (usually in the backyard).
Once you’ve gotten a few snowflakes you can reach your sled, which for some reason is stuck in a tree. While this can be used to reach certain platforms, and is even necessary to progress in a few areas, the main thing the sled is used for is fast travel.
You can unlock shortcuts as you progress, and they’re lined up such that using the sled you can basically hit all of them in a row without having to get off so you can quickly get back to where you were the day before. And honestly it’s pretty fun.
Each day has its own timeline, and at the end of the day your mother calls you to come in because you’re not allowed to be out after dark. This leads to an adorable little dream sequence where Marvin dreams about what he’s seen while his mum hums a lullaby. This is how the game saves, and you’re free to skip through it if you want.
Let me state for the record that I think the artwork is gorgeous. There are loads of little details, and the woods, hills and mountains are a real treat to wander through. The best word that comes to mind is cozy. The whole game feels very cozy.
The warm, soothing and slightly enchanting soundtrack helps reinforce this feeling. It’s a game you can play to relax. Heck, most of it can be played with just a single hand, so I could simply lean back and drink in the atmosphere.
All in all it took me about 6 hours to complete the game. I likely could have done it faster, but I’m a rabid completionist, so there were only two little snowflakes that I gave up on finding. Maybe I’ll go back to it later. It’s really hard to feel any sort of frustration though. It’s too pretty, too pleasing and too relaxing.
I do wonder whether everything that happens in the game is just a figment of Marvin’s imagination, but it doesn’t really matter. Unless you hate winter and serenity, I recommend you give this one a look. For a mere 4 euros I can’t think of a reason to argue against it. 🙂