As concepts for games go, this is a new one: propelling a regenerating fungus through a long series of puzzles by surgically destroying it and forcing it to regrow. And it works. Mushroom 11 is one of the more fascinating reinventions of the platform game in recent memory, the sort of game that feels new beneath your fingers—that asks you to move and think in ways you don't expect—but makes instinctive sense nonetheless.
As the player, you operate a glittering circle that annihilates any part of the fungus that falls beneath it, like an insect incinerated under a microscope. But life always finds a way, and so the organic mass will grow away from your burning gaze, allowing you to propel it forward through crevices, over obstacles, and even into the air.
While there are times when you'll need to move quickly to avoid falling into lava, which will indeed obliterate you, most of the time it's better to be deliberate than it is to be fast. Although you can't control the fungus precisely—it often feels like squeezing a tube of green toothpaste—you can trim it like an oozing bonsai until it eventually does what you want. You can even divide the goop into different parts, use them to independently trigger different elements of a puzzle, then simply erase the part you don't need and move on.
The game doesn't announce any particular plot when it begins, and would probably be just as fun even if there were no story at all. Still, some hints reside in the reddish, dystopian landscapes and burned out buildings that frame each level, and how you spend most of your time negotiating structures that seem to be made by humans and yet encounter no humans at all. The game description promises that you will ultimately "understand the true nature of the devastation from which you emerged," but regardless, the real pleasure lies in the creeping, oozing journey, not the destination.
Created by Untame, Mushroom 11 is available on Steam for Mac, Windows, and Linux.