I saw the innovative puzzle game Mushroom 11 last year as part of the PAX 10. I just saw it again at PAX Prime 2015, this time in the Indie Megabooth, and it’s almost ready for its debut. It’s scheduled to be released this fall on Steam and Linux.

I played a tutorial level and marveled once more at the innovative mechanics. You’re a blob of something. Spores? Cells? And you move through levels and solve puzzles by pushing, dividing, and erasing yourself. As I played I felt as if I was a dog chasing my own tail—at least that’s the closest I can come to the feeling. But speed is really not a big part of the equation. You use the mouse to shape yourself, push yourself into crevices, and roll yourself across obstacles. The puzzles can be a bit challenging, but the game is really forgiving. You never really die (although in a way you’re dying and being reborn every time you erase yourself and begin growing again).

The art invokes a kind of gorgeous dystopia, with industrial ruins in the background and interesting creatures in your path. The game’s website provides an apt description: “Guide an amorphous organism across brain-twisting obstacles, overcome swarms of bizarre mutated creatures, and understand the true nature of the devastation from which you emerged.”

Mushroom 11

The devastated landscape is beautiful.

During the past year, the four-person development team at Untame has added a bunch of “chapters,” which add up to about seven or eight hours of gameplay. There’s always beautiful music playing by the 90s band The Future Sound of London. “We’re particularly proud of the music…we approached them two years ago and one thing led to another,” said Itay Keren, a designer of the game and founder of Untame game studio.

Is the team excited to be this close to their release date? “It’s a bit scary to send your baby out into the world, ” said Julia Keren-Detar, the creative lead and UI artist.

Because the game mechanics are so different from what people are used to, the designers hope people will “get” it and have the patience to learn it. “We’re really proud of our tutorials,” said Keren-Detar.

A touchscreen version is in the works, according to the developers, which seems like a natural evolution. I look forward to playing a lot of Mushroom 11 soon.

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Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda Breneman.com or her family foundation's website, ludusproject.org.