The Spirit and the Mouse is a truly thoughtful game that proves even the tiniest things in life can make a big difference. With its adorable protagonist, enjoyable missions, and touching message, it’s a sure-fire way to warm your heart on a rainy night.
Sometimes the best things really do come in small packages, and The Spirit and the Mouse on Nintendo Switch is a testament to that. It’s clear that this wonderful little title has love and attention poured into its every facet, and its thorough thoughtfulness is striking from the offset. From the story, to the level design, and even the controls, it exudes a sense of care that makes the human player feel just as well looked after as the humans the titular mouse seeks to help, and it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen deeply in love with its world.
The Spirit and the Mouse follows – unsurprisingly – a mouse, who just so happens to be the most pure and wholesome creature to ever exist. Though she may be small, she has big dreams of helping the humans around her, even if only to add a little light to their daily lives.
During a stormy night, our mouse friend is scampering around the beautiful Parisian town of Sainte-et-Claire. Though she’s not exactly having the best time herself, upon seeing a human’s favourite scarf fly away and get caught on a lighting rod, she decides to take things into her own paws. Climbing the treacherous heights, she ends up getting struck by lightning. But rather than this being the end for our wonderful whiskered companion, it’s just the beginning.
In the accident, the mouse absorbs the power of an electric spirit called Lumion, who is now stuck on the lightning rod. Unfortunately, he can’t return home until he can gather enough happiness from the humans he was sent to help. As such, it’s your job to take control of your new rodent friend and fulfil her dreams – helping those around her, as she’d always hoped.
The gameplay is a fine mix of exploration, puzzle-solving, and collectathon, with a sprinkle of platforming added to the mix. You use your mousey agility and new-found electrical powers to traverse the stunning map, listening to unhappy humans and solving their problems.
You get the opportunity to silently help a truly diverse cast of characters, from the siblings terrified that their flickering lamps are haunted, to the young woman desperately trying to finish her thesis by tomorrow’s deadline. Each human has their own ‘Kibblin Box’, a device that provides power to their homes, and it’s up to you to help the Kibblins with their tasks so they can return to their rightful places and get the box working again.
The Kibblins’ tasks vary greatly, offering a variety of puzzles and challenges. Whether you’re playing hide and seek with them, helping them piece together clues in order to work out codes, or helping a Kibblin athlete train to move faster than the speed of light, each of the little missions presented to you are charming and thoughtful. And, if you ever lose track of a clue, you can always check in your journal. Similarly, if you’re having trouble locating one of those pesky Kibblins, you can head back to the Kibblin box and ask for a hint.
Every time you get a Kibblin Box working again, you head back to the human to hear their joy at their problems ‘magically’ resolving themselves, and collect the resulting bubble of happiness. Throughout your journey, Lumion contacts you by signalling through your whiskers, giving you guidance. This spirit is delightfully hot and cold, fitting perfectly with the ‘tsundere’ trope seen in anime, resulting in some very entertaining interactions. It’s truly wonderful to see him warm to your little mouse pal over time, and it ensures you never feel alone.
As the mouse, you can use Lumion’s power to zap objects in order to collect electric, which you use to unlock various necessities and novelties throughout the game. You can traverse to different platforms by using electric boxes, allowing you to travel through wires, and, as you progress, you gain other handy powers, such as the ability to pass through specific electric fences.
Aside from the little electric sparks, there are also a number of collectable lightbulbs scattered around each area of the map. These belong to the string lights above the statue in the square, and returning them to the Kibblin there unlocks unique bonuses, such as area maps, teleportation, and the adorable photo mode. I can’t tell you how long I’ve spent channelling my inner Kate Mouse as I posed in various locations with this feature.
While the tasks you’re challenged with aren’t particularly difficult, they’re not too easy either. There’s a balance where you sometimes need to run around and have a little ponder , without putting you in situations where you’re stuck on the same part for too long. This, along with the wonderfully wholesome setting, makes the game a wonderful choice for players of all ages and demographics – whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a child who hasn’t picked up a controller for the first time, The Spirit and the Mouse has something for you.
This level of accessibility stretches beyond the core content, too, as the controls are also well thought out. The game provides control hints as you explore, telling you when you can climb, release, enter, or otherwise interact with an object in a way that is clearly visible but not too intrusive. You also have the option to ‘crouch’, which sees the mouse crawl at a much slower pace, offering higher control which is very welcome when skittering along narrow ledges or skirting high-up platforms.
On launching the game, I found the joystick controls were way too sensitive for my liking, and was pleased to find they were easy to change in the settings. I was even more pleased to find a section dedicated to accessibility options, such as colour-blind mode and the ability to toggle hints on or off depending on your personal preference.
When it comes to visuals, The Spirit and the Mouse is honestly gorgeous. While our sweet little mouse herself can seem a little stiff in her animations at times, the environments are beautifully crafted, with many of the highly detailed settings genuinely forcing me to stop and take a look around.
There’s a wonderful dynamic between the realistic environments, the cartoonish Kibblins, and the colour-blocked, impressionist humans, as though you truly are peering into a space between multiple worlds, and I genuinely wouldn’t change a thing about the aesthetics – it’s exactly my cup of tea, and took my breath away on multiple occasions.
Performance-wise, this little gem works a treat. Controls feel responsive and snappy, I personally encountered no bugs on my full playthrough, and I experienced little to no stuttering, even on my high refresh rate monitor (which often makes Switch games a little funky). The lighting is clearly quite taxing and can sometimes jitter around objects a little, but that’s such a minor complaint when you’re looking at such stunning scenes.
Above all, the main word that comes to my mind when thinking about The Spirit and the Mouse is, and likely always will be, ‘thoughtful’. It’s a wholesome, cosy experience that truly seems to care about the player’s happiness just as much as this little mouse cares about the happiness of the humans she helps. For such a small price and an even smaller protagonist, this game has big dreams – and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for something to warm your heart this autumn.