Thinking about it, there’s quite a short list of games that have an actual animal as the main character. This year’s Stray proved that people love being in control of an animal friend, and the Spirit and the Mouse takes this and runs with it.
My expectations were for a pint-sized adventure with adorable characters and a wholesome story I could dip in and out of on an evening. Two-person developer team Alblune’s game definitely lived up to these, and more.
The Spirit and the Mouse was shown off in the 2021 Wholesome Snack stream, and since then, I’ve been waiting patiently to play it. Here we are, then! My thoughts on the rodent’s romp!
When a spirit meets a mouse…
Beginning on a sleepy, rain-soaked night, you’re in control of Lila the mouse as she picks her way through the town of Sainte-et-Claire. The little mouse yearns for more out of life and is desperate to help those down-cast humans around her. Strange things keep happening like the power going out, perplexing personal issues for the humans, and items getting lost. Lila sees this and decides she will help… somehow.
Luckily, as you attempt to retrieve a lost scarf from atop a building, something odd happens. Lila is shocked by the lightning from the storm and discovers she can see a strange friend. This is Lumion, the Spirit Guardian. He’s equally astounded that Lila can see him, and decides to enlist her as an assistant Spirit Guardian for the night to restore happiness to the village. Happiness is key here, as it’s what Lumion requires in order to return to the spirit world, lest he becomes trapped on this mortal plane.
It turns out that these guardians work with electric beings called Kibblins to keep human issues in check, and they'll be your accomplices as you join their ranks for one night only.
The great mouse detective
Getting into The Spirit and the Mouse is super easy. You’re introduced to Lila and the story with a text overlay as you scurry down a street. There's chilled-out music in the background, along with rain sounds to match the inclement weather over Sainte-et-Claire. The story is easy to follow and flows nicely.
The game is based on puzzles, but they’re easy to figure out, and it never feels like you’re in a situation where you’re pressured to find the right outcome. There’s no threat, and the puzzles can be done without a single head-scratch. While you’re adventuring, you’ll discover new areas and handy shortcuts in order to navigate the town.
The Spirit and the Mouse rewards exploration with its collecting mechanic on top of the story. You can shock items with Lila’s new electric powers in order to gain charges - and don’t worry, developers confirmed this does not hurt Lila. It gets addictive, as does collecting light bulbs.
The best part of the game? Surprisingly, it's not the fact that you can wear hats, but that there is a dedicated squeak button. I found this completely by accident before it came up in the game and was gobsmacked. An excellent addition, reminiscent of the Untitled Goose Game’s honk button. More games need to add something like this, to be honest.
The game isn’t too long - to collect absolutely everything and do all of the quests, it’ll take around six hours. Given the relaxed and wholesome nature of the game, this makes it perfect for the autumn nights drawing in when we want to snuggle up with a wholesome treat.
In terms of how the game runs, there are no faults to be found. On the Nintendo Switch, the game performs very nicely, though the achievements aren’t available on this platform. For me, this wasn’t an issue as it meant I could really take it easy in the game instead of chasing achievements like collecting every single piece of Energy in North Town. Even the limited controls work towards giving a simple and comforting experience. There’s no jump or sprint, just go forwards and adventure on. And squeak, of course.
The graphics are delightful, and really hammer home the relaxing air of being in a small, rainy town. Lila herself is adorable, and her surroundings and friends are an original concept that I’ve not come across before.
The Spirit and the Mouse is definitely the sort of game to pick up in your downtime, or on a commute. It's easy, short and lovely to play. The game offers a few hours of entertainment to dip in and out of whenever you feel the need to break from a busy life, become a little mouse on a mission, and fulfil a higher purpose.
A code was provided by the publisher.