Pheus and Mor


| Comments (9) | Views (34)

DoraPheus and MorPheus and Mor, a puzzle platformer from Dmitry Nikolaev and Anton Velmozhniy, is here to give you a case of the feels in this gorgeous but oddly foreboding little game about a boy, Pheus, and his dog Mor. Using the [WASD] keys to control Pheus and [arrow] keys for Mor, you'll have to have them work together to push switches, open doors, and overcome other obstacles on each level to get through to the door together. Pheus, for example, is faster and can jump higher but can't swim, while Mor is heavier, stronger, and can doggy-paddle just fine. By working together, they can journey through a surreal, gorgeous sort of dreamland... but between levels, you might get hints that not everything is as idyllic as you might hope...

Pheus and Mor is a stunning little game, and a fine entry to the library of similar titles like Home Sheep Home, Fireboy and Watergirl, and even, to a lesser extent, classics like The Lost Vikings. The artwork and overall atmosphere is fantastic, full of dreamy imagery and saturated colours, which makes the more ominous bits all the more stark. You don't see a whole lot of attempts to tell stories like this in puzzle platforming, and simple though that story may be, Pheus and Mor is pretty effective at pulling you in without saying a word. On the other hand, the controls can get a bit frustrating, with Mor's movement feeling perhaps overly sluggish at times and Pheus's jumping not being as fluid as it really should. These control issues may seem minor, but for players used to (and demanding) more reliability it might mean the game asks for more patience than they're willing to give. Which is a shame, since the game's beautiful design and story are really worth experiencing... you know, provided you don't mind little tearing up and a bittersweet ending.

Play Pheus and Mor

9 Comments

I'm still not sure if I like bittersweet endings to my games. I prefer my completion to make me feel good, not bring me down.

If a game is going to have a poignant ending, teary or otherwise, I prefer it to be relevant in the gameplay, not just in the cutscenes. I didn't really get that here.
For example:

The styles of the levels didn't match the story. A Wizard of Oz tornado? A factory? A castle? How does that advance and/or resolve the story? All it appears to be is a magical adventure between a boy and his dog before, oops, the dog had died.

Rather, why not use the style to advance the story? A level utilizing the soccer balls more? Or instead of a factory, how about a wrecked car junkyard? Instead of a castle, what about a graveyard or pet cemetary? And in the final levels, what if the dog helped the boy return to his body instead of him passing on to the light?

Advancing the story through the gameplay and level styles would have gone a long way to limiting the "bitter" and increasing the "sweet." Instead, all I'm left with is a dead dog and a wish that I had stopped playing the game 2/3 of the way through.

Still the mechanics were fun (if not hard or original), and the artwork and music quite lovely.

Bittersweet?

The kid spent most of his childhood in a coma & his beloved dog is long dead!

That ending's downright sad if you ask me.

Also, I do kinda agree with LightWarriorK that there's a bit of a disconnection between the plot & the level design of this game.

Didn't like how you couldn't revist levels without beating the game, especially with it reminding you that you missed the key there! It was also too bad few of the ideas from

broken world under the floor

were used elsewhere in the game.

Speaking of sluggish, Pheus, um...


dies too slow.


Luckily you can just hit R to restart.

I considered it bittersweet because

through the adventures he has with his dog, which I think are just meant to symbolise various fairy-tale like locales that kids enjoy, Pheus finally emerges from his coma with the help of Mor, which is happy, but he has to face reality and leave Mor behind. I think considering it was Mor's spirit helping him emerge from his coma, it wasn't all sad.

Just my thought. :)

Hi LightWarriorK,

I see what you're saying and I agree somewhat. But maybe there is a reason...

As a child, he sees the world from a much different perspective than someone older. Those magical worlds are very much what would be significant to a child. Unless he was a car fanatic, a kid who doesn't drive wouldn't have much thought for cars or salvage lots.

Maybe in the boy's mind, a castle is a better way to face his teetering near death than a graveyard would be and, since he is not only unaware that the dog has passed but would probably even never consider the possibility that the dog wouldn't live as long as he did, there is no reason at all, he'd think of a pet cemetery.

I see these colorful magical worlds as actually Pheus being connected to life, as surreal as they are, and the black and white dystopias are a result of his body's awareness of its trauma and mortality.

In this way, perhaps the lack of relevancy was an intended poetic element rather than an oversight in storytelling?

Okay I gave the game 5, I loved it, but I would love to rate this review for being so spot on 10/5 (now there is a thought, rating reviews!)

"Pheus and Mor is pretty effective at pulling you in without saying a word."

And here you have "it" what made this game something special, you just had to keep going.

"On the other hand, the controls can get a bit frustrating, with Mor's movement feeling perhaps overly sluggish at times and Pheus's jumping not being as fluid as it really should."

True, very true, and it may be a game breaker for some, but maybe, just maybe

if you are in a coma, this is how the world feels

@Black Drazon

For the key levels

You can replay them any time from the level select screen

Edit to Black Drazon

(because I found out the hard way!)

@Black Drazon, @Yaddab,
About accessing the key levels--

I actually couldn't replay them from the level select screen until I'd finished ALL the levels (except for the big locked door).

When playing through the story for the first time, even if you stand in front of a door you've already completed and press S, it won't let you enter. Pheus does a lot of sliding around instead.

Agreed that this is a slightly annoying feature: good that the game lets you go back and get the missed keys eventually, but the closed levels cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety in the meantime!

Pretty heart-wrenching game, nevertheless.

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