Circus Reviews - Mama Possum
As my few loyal readers might remember, I lived in Arkansas for all of my teenage and most of my adult years (the ones I've lived thus far, anyway). As someone who has spoken to me long enough might know, I make little secret of the fact that I'm happy to be living elsewhere now. But I'm not immune to the occasional bout of nostalgia, and to be honest, I always thought it was a shame that there weren't more video games set in Arkansas. I can kind of see why, but still...every now and then, it's nice to see something with a more familiar setting.
Mama Possum is the story of two sisters, a truck driver and a housewife, who pilot the titular mech in order to defend their home from a monster apocalypse. Since operating the mech requires two people to psychically connect, the sisters have to put aside whatever differences they've had in the past so that they can work together and save their world from those who would destroy it.
You might have noticed that my description of the plot is relatively similar to the movie Pacific Rim. I didn't hate Pacific Rim or anything, but I didn't find its generic fantasy fulfillment particularly impressive, either. This game, on the other hand, takes the same concept and injects some actual heart and soul into it, and the result is a delight to read. The only way to accurately describe the writing is charmingly Southern, and the audio track is much the same, plunky and determined in just the right way. The only artwork is the background shown above, but one detail I absolutely loved was its occasional use in progressing the story. Sometimes you click on bold words to advance, like most other interactive fiction games, but sometimes a button on the dashboard will light up and you get to click it and advance the story by actually using the mech. Usually this involves punching, bombing, or otherwise destroying a monster, and it does wonders for the immersion.
They're not very similar, but another game I'm strongly reminded of is Slaughtertrain (which I've reviewed in the past), which also took the concept from a movie I was not very fond of and made it a much more engaging read. I feel like maybe games should start doing more of this, because clearly it can work very well.
To be honest, Mama Possum is short enough that there's not much more I can say about it beyond telling you to just go play the darn thing. It's maybe fifteen or twenty minutes long, but what is there works perfectly. It's a fun and inspiring read, and I'm very happy to be recommending it. Be warned, though: If you start subconsciously speaking with a Southern accent, I am not legally liable.
Mama Possum is available to play for free in browser on itch.io, although you can purchase a downloadable version for $5 to support the developer.
Final verdict: Short, sweet, and Southern, Mama Possum is a delightful read that takes an easily tired concept and packs it to the brim with a surprising amount of heart.
Mama Possum is developed and published by Kevin Snow/Bravemule. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review. I am a Kickstarter backer for Southern Monsters, another project by Kevin Snow, and had access to this game before its public release.