Mable & The Wood

“Mable & The Wood” by Andrew StewartFat Bard (Zach Fendelman & Patrick Crecelius), Chris W. Early, Maarten Boot, swonqi & Graffiti Games.

“[A metroidvania] where you can take the form of the bosses that you kill, changing how [you are] able to explore the interconnected world. [It is] also a [metroidvania] where you [do not] have to kill anyone.”

The story of “Mable & The Wood” has its roots in the game jam culture. The first prototype of the title was created as a submission for the thirty-second edition of the Ludum Dare, titled “Mable: The Journey”. A lot has changed since then, as Mable is not on a quest any longer to just slay all the demons in the woods with an oversized sword as well as by changing between her human and her fairy form. While these mechanics are still available and expanded in the full release, they are not the single focus any longer.

That is because “Mable & The Wood” gives you the possibility to beat it without killing anybody. While I absolutely love this idea, it turns out to be an overwhelmingly difficult task compared to other titles with such a concept like “UNDERTALE”, where you can often just choose not to fight anybody in a lethal way. In this game, however, it is sadly very easy to kill enemies even unintentionally, as you have to switch to your fairy form to overcome obstacles. Whenever you are done to perform a jump this way, Mable will pull her magic sword from the starting point right to the new place, causing all monsters in this path to get slaughtered.

The core idea is still great and with some patience it surely is possible. But I have to admit that the game offers a much better flow when you decide to give in to some violence, as “Mable & The Wood” features a bunch of clever boss battles. Whenever you destroy one of them, you can shapeshift yourself into their form. Killed the giant spider called Queen of the Wood? Now you can turn into a spider, shoot your webs and climb them, allowing you to easily explore more places. Murdered the aggressive mole? You can dig through certain materials now.

Overall, I think it is a lovely game, although it could use some polish here and there, as the physics sometimes feel a bit off, making some of the platformer stages unnecessarily difficult to beat. Still, “Mable & The Wood” was made with a big heart plus great ideas, so why do you not give it a try yourself? This journey can result in multiple endings, depending on your personal playing style. Will you turn out to be the shapeshifter of all forms, your strength built up on the corpses of innocent creatures, or will you be the humble Mable in the end, the girl who saves all the lands as half human, half fairy? That is for you to decide. [PLAY]