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Review: Marvin's Mittens

Table of Contents

Quick Info

Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religious Objections
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Additional Notes
This game's soundtrack is available!

Summary of major issues
This game was clearly intended to reflect the innocence of childhood, so the only real concern a parent might have with it is that there are magical elves living in Marvin's backyard.

Screenshots


Using a bridge's scaffolding as monkey bars


A sketch of a chickadee


It's 11 PM. Do you know where your children are?

General Information

Genre:PlatfomerAge Rating:Everyone (Ages 3+)
License:CommercialQuality Rating:Good
Played on:Thaddeus
Available from: Steam
Soundtrack:Available as DLC
Save System:Your progress is recorded at the end of each day. If you don't want to wait for Marvin's mother to call him to bed, you can skip to his bedtime by finding the elf that offers you hot chocolate and asking them to send you home.

If you just want to pause the game, press ESC to bring up the pause menu.

Game Overview

Just about everyone played in the snow as a kid, and according to the developers, this game was created to try and bring that magical feeling back. That said, I think a better description of Marvin's Mittens is that it's like an illustrated story from a children's magazine. If you've ever read stories from publications like Highlights for Children, Cricket, or perhaps even Ranger Rick, then you have a pretty good idea about what you're going to see here.

The story itself is little more than a basic framework. Marvin was quietly building a snowman when something dashed out of the trees, took a mitten off his hand, and ran away into the woods with its prize. Now, he doesn't get into trouble over coming home without both mittens or anything dramatic like that, but you can't just steal a little boy's mitten and expect him to do nothing about it. This sets him off on a journey that goes over and under lakes and mountains as he tracks down the Mitten Thief. Along the way he'll encounter a group of elves that have also lost their mittens to the Mitten Thief, and they join with Marvin on his crusade.

Together, the elves enchant Marvin's remaining mitten, allowing him to briefly fly while wearing it. By gathering magical snowflakes scattered around the winter scenery, he'll be able to go higher and float for longer periods. This provides enough of a boost to allow him to explore new areas and eventually locate the Mitten Thief's lair. Other powers will make themselves known as they are needed, and each of the three elves will show up throughout the land to give Marvin a little extra help.

But, although he has formidable allies and a magical mitten, there is one thing that holds him back: curfew. Like any little boy, he needs to get plenty of rest every night. Thus, when evening falls, his mother will call him home for bed, and his adventuring is over for the day. While this slows things down a little, there's no limit to the number of days he spends exploring. One of the elves will also build shortcuts if you can find him, so it progressively gets easier to get back to unexplored territory.

This is a charming game, and definitely one your inner child will enjoy.

Pros

Beautiful hand drawn illustrations
Most games these days make a big deal about their graphics. Many try for fancy, realistic imagery that aims to rival Hollywood's newest blockbusters. Others use pixelated retro graphics in an attempt to capitalize on nostalgia or perhaps focus on faster gameplay. Marvin's Mittens, however, uses detailed hand drawn artwork that looks like it belongs in a child's storybook rather than a video game, and it really brings the game to life. I wish more games did this, honestly.


Gradual exploration
Every night Marvin's mother will call him home for bedtime. This creates an enforced time limit, which honestly is a really good thing. Without this time limit, the game could probably be beaten in less than half an hour, and you'd miss a lot of the details that have been scattered around. Additionally, it makes it more satisfying to see what's next, as you need to put in a little effort to reach that next area.


Nothing can harm you
There are only two things hampering Marvin's progress: how high he can jump and his bedtime. There are no monsters to fight, no dangerous pits; nor is anything violent or scary. This game is seriously like a child's winter fantasy.


Sketches to collect
Every so often, Marvin will come across different animals in the woods. If you're cautious, he can get close enough to sketch them down on his notebook. There are eleven animals to find, making this a little optional side quest for those gamers that enjoy finding everything.


Cons

The numbering of the sketches is awkward
If you flip through Marvin's notebook, you'll see that there's a number assigned to each one. This is displayed as a number out of eleven (eg, 6/11). Normally, you'd expect this to mean you have found six out of the eleven sketches. Instead, this means you're viewing sketch #6 and there are eleven total. Thus, to figure out which ones you're missing, you'll need to flip through the entire notebook a few times.


It's rather short
It only took me about two hours to play through the game. On one hand, it's a good thing that the game keeps things moving along and reaches its climax before the player gets bored of running through the same areas over and over. On the other hand, it's sort of a downer, as what's available is wonderful enough that you might be left wanting more of it.


Concerns and Issues

Magic and elves
Literally the only thing in this game that might concern parents is the presence of little people and their magical world. The elves are tiny people wearing pointed hats, much like young, beardless garden gnomes, and the magic we see them use is mostly limited to snowflake powered flight. Their city is actually run by steampunk-style machinery.