Mimpi (out now, $1.99) is many things. It’s beautiful, weird, surprising, whimsical, and poignant. It’s also frustrating, confusing, and frustrating. Like an untrained dog, it may pee on the floor every now and then, but you love it anyway because it’s cute, cuddly, and dammit, it loves you back.
First things first: Silicon Jelly and Crescent Moon’s puzzle platformer is gorgeous. It sort of looks like South Park meets Yellow Submarine, which seems like an odd combination, but it works completely. It’s bright, colorful, and inventively strange. It’s never boring to look at, and that’s a very good thing, because you are going to be looking at some sections for a long, long time. But we’ll get to that in a second.
You play as the titular Mimpi, a dog who wakes up and realizes his owner is missing. To find him, you set out through 8 different (and I mean different) levels solving an impressive variety of puzzles. These range from flipping switches and moving platforms around to stringing ropes in the correct order and even building machines. Most of them are really quite clever, and more than a few made me break out into a wide grin when I saw a particularly ingenious solution.
The thing is, when you have such a huge amount of wildly different puzzles, there are going to be some that don’t quite work. And boy does Mimpi have some doozies. Now, I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say there are some that will have you staring at the screen dumbfounded, hopelessly tapping every object in view and praying to the universe that something happens. Alright, I’ll give you one example: There’s a puzzle about midway through the game that asks you to rotate a set of wheels a certain way. The solution is fairly obvious. However, getting the circles to rotate in just the right way involves pixel-perfect accuracy and possibly a prayer candle or two. When everything finally lined up after about 25 minutes of trying, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d done differently.
Even worse, however, are the platforming heavy sections. The controls work fine, but Mimpi’s actual movement feels somehow stiff, floaty, and slippery at the same time. This is okay for most puzzles and even adds to the dreamy atmosphere, but when you’re trying to cross a pond by hopping from fish to fish while feeding them, or raise a bunch of timed mechanical platforms to jump over a laser pit, it can get a bit frustrating after the 34th fall. Luckily, there are copious checkpoints which usually divide even the most hair-pulling-est of puzzles into bite sized chunks.
I realize I’ve spent two entire paragraphs saying what’s wrong with the game, but I don’t want to give an overly negative impression. The game is fantastic, warts and all, and is easily worth the two bucks for the art alone. Mimpi is indeed a lot of things, but one thing it’s definitely not is a game you should ignore.
At its best, Mimpi is a truly ingenious set of gorgeously rendered puzzles wrapped around a heartwarming story of a dog lost in a world that may not be quite what it seems. At its worst, well, let’s just say you might need one of those new iPad’s Apple just announced due to an unfortunate accident. As it is now, Mimpi is just an update or two away from being a true masterpiece.