Last year, whilst scouting social media platforms and crowdfunding sites for new indie game prospects, I came across a unique-looking 8-BIT title on Kickstarter that was subsequently funded and is due for release in the near future. Mira’s Brush, developed by Duckbill ProDucktions and published by Angel Star Studios, is an 8-BIT 2D side scroller with puzzle elements whereby players must platform and paint their way through levels in order to advance through the game; the best way I can describe the game’s premise is if Super Mario Bros had mechanics similar to Okami.
I had an interview with the game’s lead designer last year, Blake Speers:
Who explained to me where the inspiration for this title came from and described in-depth the arduous development cycle that game has had in order to get it to where it was at the time and to get it to the point of which the game was finally put on Kickstarter, where it was then successfully funded. The game is now available via Steam Early Access:
And so I decided to write about my first impressions of the game, about its finer points, and where I feel it could indeed need some improvement before its full release in the not too distant future. Here are my thoughts on the current build of Mira’s Brush
First of all, the world of Chromaland is as wonderfully varied as any other well-established video game universe with a lot of wonderfully outlandish enemies and locations ranging from tropical summer landscapes to icy snow worlds to outer space. In many respects, this game looks to be the labor of love that Blake talked about in our interview, and the conceptual design certainly promises this. However, in its current build, I did find a few inconsistencies with certain textures in certain locations, and a lot of the text around the game giving players instructions still looks quite basic compared to the dialogue text, so that would be something else that would need sprucing up before the game releases, otherwise, it would end up looking fairly unprofessional compared to other games. Regardless, the visual design of the game overall holds great promise for this game.
What holds greater promise than that, however, is the gameplay premise. The game involves both precise platforming to advance between each level and backtracking through said levels in order to find hidden items throughout. It has potentially more gameplay value than the average 2D side scroller, as well as providing a higher sense of challenge compared to others with elaborate strategies needed to defeat bosses and solve puzzles. The puzzle-solving element, in particular, reminds me somewhat of Fez, in that the game doesn’t hold the player’s hand throughout, and there is a certain degree of lateral thinking involved in uncovering hidden areas and even advancing through the game normally.
The only problem I found with the game’s control scheme is that it can be tricky jumping on and off of certain types of platforms, namely the huge stars in the second level, due to their changing dimensions, and it can seem unfair to those playing who should have a well-timed jump, but end up falling due to unforeseen inconsistency in the trajectory of their jump as a result. Again, this is something that would need to be addressed before release, but otherwise, the control scheme is as fluent as what is needed.
With a multitude of levels and areas to explore throughout the game, it also has the potential to last far longer than the average 2D side scroller, depending on how much there is to do and how much there is to explore overall. Given the types of games that went on to influence this title and the number of side quests I’ve seen so far, I’m looking forward to finding out exactly how long a game can be made to last.
The story of Mira’s Brush follows the story of Mira, a painter who is hired to save Chromaland from the evil Colonel Blump and his minions, who has arrived to invade the land and sap it of all its color. The basic premise of the game is quite typical of many video games, but what keeps this interesting is that there is a quite strong comedic element to it in the personalities of each quirky character to find along the way, as well as the game is littered with cultural references, namely to classic painters of the renaissance era and more modern contemporaries such as Bob Ross.
Even at first glance, the game’s level of uniqueness is quite prevalent. It plays out like very few side scrollers I’ve ever played, and the world of Chromaland has its own sense of charm, mystery, and unique design that was everything I was hoping it would be when I first discovered it for myself. With a lot of the basics having been ironed out before release, it does have the potential to make waves throughout the indie community, and I’m very much looking forward to the game’s full release.
Overall, Mira’s Brush promises an immersing and wonderful gaming experience, and a lot of the hallmarks to be expected are here; it looks great, it plays out great, and the indication is that the final product will be truly something special.