Approaching exit velocity, my tiny body spirals wildly as I desperately hope I can catch the orbit of the platform across the void. Mice have it rough out here in space, unable to travel the stars properly any longer, they resort to flinging themselves from destination to destination, floating the gaps alone. mouse sector has the player tackling the minutiae of this, showing the player a sliver of the galaxy that they can delve into, jam-packed with secrets.
Made for the Mouse in the Maze game jam, mouse sector from developer fotocopiadora (@cometbook) positions the player in the third person as a lone mouse drifting inside a leftover chunk of a long-forgotten vessel. Across the way looms huge the Mouse Flag Palace, the Rat Library, an ecology platform, and far from all else, the Human Skyworld. Hurling themselves through space, the player tracks a path of their own as their curiosity drives them, uncovering the history of this strange time and place with the Scanner in their helmet.
Humanity long ago threw Earth out of orbit, some sort of intense light-bridge-based mining system knocking massive pulses into our terrestrial body. Recently awakened to self-awareness, mice and rats hitchhike in the celestial life rafts with which the rich of humanity take to the stars. Shredding the ships for parts, rodents construct a genesis ship to chart their own course. The Flag Palace is an interwoven web of tunnels and rooms, a familiar maze for the denizens of this place.
Throughout this flagship, and in the Rat Library, the remnants of the animal kingdom provide small snippets of conversation and glimpses into the state of this world. Painted murals of distant stars, digitized infographics of historical events, individuals pondering the state they find themselves in; mice and rats find solace in their new reality, still managing to develop culture and track the occurrences that have brought them here.
Suspiciously absent, humanity leave nothing behind in their wake, a blank entity that wrought destruction and vanished.
Not entirely absent, however, as their Skyworld hangs silent amongst the pack of vessels here. On board, near-pitch-black hallways give way to technological advances that the Scanner cannot provide any information on. Ominous components speak to an alien foreignness that has permeated human advances. Behind locked doors lie near-answers to what this tech is, but nothing is truly clarified. Humanity has not forgotten their roots, though, as evidenced by a McDonald’s in the restaurant deck. Thank god we brought along what mattered most.
Moments like this are tucked away in all sorts of nooks and crannies of their remaining refuges, as mouse sector stuffs itself full of secret compartments and hidden surprises. Password-locked doors prompt further investigation of the world, each opening to reveal more weird and wonderful facets of this place. Something of a “cozy” game, mouse sector begs to be played on a lazy afternoon, to give it space to breathe and unfurl itself before you. Prying hands will unearth a gem here, as rewarding as it is esoteric.
Catherine Brinegar is a trans game developer and filmmaker who explores the surreal and abstract in her work. Beyond her creative endeavors she enjoys losing herself inside other worlds, interactive and not. Finding inspiration in everything, Catherine aims to see all the world has to offer, through the continual conversation of art. You can keep up with her on twitter @cathroon.