Help Hope become a work of art before she is forgotten forever.
Do ideas hold any significance if never fulfilled in the real world? Does an imaginary rabbit “live” before we draw him on paper? These are the kinds of questions that Muse poses to players, with its truly unique storyline. However, with limited, repetitive gameplay and some technical issues, the novelty of the game’s premise wears off before too long.
In Muse, you’ll play as an idea. Hope, another idea, becomes your companion through the game, as she teaches you of the life of an idea, which is spent both in limbo (where ideas literally float in nothingness), and inside the minds of artists. In Muse’s case, the word artist is used to describe painters, illustrators and so on – artists of the visual arts. The entire point of an idea is to become so engrained in an artist’s mind that the artist creates them in the real world, where they can live forever on canvas, paper, etc.
As Hope attempts to find an artist’s mind that she’d like to call her temporary home (bringing you along for the ride), a villain known as Shade interferes. Shade blocks the flow of creativity in an artist’s mind (think writer’s block), and with no way to stop him, Hope is then trapped as a semi-forgotten idea in a mind that has already started to focus on something else. From there, the game turns into a literal journey for survival, as Hope must find a way out of this mind and into another (each mind has different a different graphical style), where she can stop herself from being forgotten forever.
Gameplay itself is a very basic combination of hidden object scenes, spot the difference scenes, and some light puzzles. The gameplay is entirely linear, with the explanation being that for every item you find in a hidden object scene, that’s one less thought that can clutter up an artist’s mind. Shade tries to stop your progress almost every step of the way, by turning the entire scene black (you’ll use a flashlight tool to view very small portions of the scene from there on), or by throwing himself (a dark pool of ink) onto a portion of the scene.
The latter instances trigger some of the puzzles in the game, as you’ll need to attack Shade to force him to leave. These puzzles come in the form of jigsaw puzzles or reflex/observational puzzles, as you must click on matching images before time runs out.
One unique mechanic here is the thought of misplaced ideas. Instead of finding items on a list within the environment, these scenes see you taking items from the list and replacing them on the scene. In this is where the game’s technical issues really come to the forefront, as you may know exactly where you should be clicking (as an example, a chair leg that matches the only chair in the scene), but the game won’t let you place the object due to its poor touch responsiveness (present in the entire game, but most noticeable here).
The game’s hint system is also lackluster, showing you a very large circular area containing a hidden object. You aren’t told which object you were just shown however, so these “hints” really don’t help as much as you might like, and you’re better off randomly clicking all over the area and hoping to get lucky. The same can be said for many items in the spot the difference scenes, which don’t look different, even after being shown them via a hint.
While Big Blue Bubble deserves credit for creativity in Muse’s storyline, the rest of the gameplay here falls rather short. If there were simply more to do – perhaps the ability to actually walk around artists’ minds, rather than being on an entirely linear “one scene after another” path – the game would hold more attraction. As it stands, though, this is one game that simply doesn’t quite live up to its high potential.