The Mobius Machine Review | PC

The Mobius Machine is an intriguing game with great promise, yet a few unavoidable factors diminish its overall excellence.

By RavensRose, Posted 23 Feb 2024

The Mobius Machine is a Metroidvania game developed by Madruga Works, an independent studio founded in 2015 by Martino Figueroa and Tucho Fernandez. The studio has released two other games besides The Mobius Machine: PlanetBase in 2015 and Dawn of Man in 2019, with Dawn of Man having Very Positive reviews on Steam.

Martino Figueroa is credited with working on several games, including Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, while Tucho Fernandez has an extensive design portfolio. He has worked in game design for over 15 years and has created models for more than 20 released titles. Among the more notable ones are F.E.A.R 3 and Risen 2.


The Mobius Machine, Gameplay, Screenshots, 2D Platformer, Review
 

The Mobius Machine follows a very tried and tested storyline. You play as an astronaut who has woken from a dream about a strange machine on a different planet; as you wake, you receive an incoming SOS signal. It’s coming from a nearby moon; after talking to your robot companion, you are told to see who is sending the signal, or you could face jail time for ignoring an SOS. After reluctantly agreeing to go, you end up crashing your ship on the planet where the signal has come from. So begins your adventure to repair your ship, explore the planet, and return home.

The Mobius Machine gameplay mechanism is similar to most RPGs these. You progress through the story and gear up with better equipment and guns. At the start, you are only armed with a small, short-range blaster that gratefully has infinite ammo; shooting can take a bit of time to master, and the aiming mechanic is a little counterintuitive and does take some practice. On top of that, you will also get a boost slide, which is useful when dodging enemies and sliding quickly over the terrain.  

Along your journey, you’ll find blueprints you’ll use at workbenches to build new weapons and gear. To do that, however, you’ll need to collect scrap, which you’ll get by killing enemies or finding scrap boxes. You’ll also gain energy from defeating enemies; energy is your life source, and you’ll need it to regenerate your health. To regain your health, you must stand still and not take any damage as you use the energy you have collected. However, if you do take damage while healing, you lose the energy.

While collecting blueprints and crafting weapons is fun, healing up during the battles can turn highly annoying. Healing up seemed to feel like it took forever, especially when you only had a little time to regain some health to continue with combat. Worse than that was that so much energy is used to heal yourself. It can feel very unforgiving.


The Mobius Machine, Gameplay, Screenshots, 2D Platformer, Review
 

The shooting mechanics of the game are a bit difficult, and enemies tend to get too close and injure you while you are trying to get the hang of aiming your gun. Along with that, a big knockback effect happens when you get hit, which can cause you to be thrown against a wall, which gives the enemy the upper hand as you become cornered and can’t escape or create space to fight. You can learn the enemies’ patterns and movements, but that becomes useless if disrupted by your rhythm. At first, I tried to play with a mouse and keyboard but quickly realized that a controller is definitely needed, and I highly recommend using one.

Enemies in The Mobius Machine, however, can genuinely feel overpowered; I sometimes felt like I was playing a soulslike side-scroller. Some enemies can two-tap you; these aren’t even the game bosses. Bosses themselves fight in a pattern, and once you recognize the pattern, they are easier to defeat. Along with the creatures that attack you, there are also environmental “enemies”. Certain plants will cause you damage if you fall on or touch them, while others explode; you must watch your step wherever you go.

The Mobius Machine has a lot of traversing, and the climbing mechanic is very well done and surprisingly easy to learn. The jumping and climbing are smooth, and once you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take too much thought to do. I’ll give The Mobius Machine a lot of credit for this. The game has no fall damage, which is a blessing because, trust me, you’ll be falling a lot.

Some platforms you need to jump to or from are tiny, with barely any room for mistakes; some are the native plants from this planet that break away if you stand on them for too long. You’ll need good timing to pass through some areas, and this is where most of the problem-solving is in the game. It can be frustrating when you fall because that means heading back from where you started, and it’s not always close by or easy to get to.


The Mobius Machine, Gameplay, Screenshots, 2D Platformer, Review
 

One of my biggest gripes with The Mobius Machine was how much back and forth there is due to the lack of maps in the levels. It felt like I kept going in circles to find a way to reach the next level. I either needed to find a terminal to unlock a door or find a piece of gear, like a pickaxe, to climb up to the level. You don’t have a map of the area to start with; only after you have found the computer that has the map of the area will you be able to access it. However, you’ll have to find a computer in the following area to access the new map for that section.

Different parts of the game look the same; you’re not always sure if you have been there before. I spent too much time trying to find my way around, which took much fun out of the game. It would have been nice to add markers on the map of areas that you have been to or places of interest. However, if you enjoy grinding and exploring, you’ll likely find this a plus for the game. Enemies also respawn continuously and can be an excellent way to farm scrap for equipment and upgrades.

If you, however, are trying to find your way to the next level and die in the process, things just might get a lot worse for you. In the game, you’ll be given two save options: if you die, you respawn with some energy and scrap, or you respawn with nothing. For me, the second option wasn’t the problem. The problem was that there weren’t enough save points in the game. The save points are small pods found around the map, and if you die, that’s where you respawn from, so even if you have played your way to a new area and die, you’ll be taken back to that save point. I think what would have helped is having checkpoints at the start of more challenging parts of the game or reoccurring intervals.


The Mobius Machine, Gameplay, Screenshots, 2D Platformer, Review
 

The visuals of The Mobius Machine are moderate. I found that my cute little astronaut character was at odds with the look of the harsh landscapes and creatures. The design and colors used in the different levels are constantly the same. Yes, it brings you continuity, but it doesn’t make you think, wow, this area looks so cool! Most levels look the same, and you can’t always tell if you have been there before, as the same enemies have respawned when you return to that area.

Also, when you are close to death, your screen will darken, and the edges will form a vignette; at this critical time, the screen went too dark and made gameplay difficult. I couldn’t tell what was coming or what I was walking into. I tried to fix this by brightening my screen, but the game looked washed out and not pleasing to the eye. Perhaps the developers did include this to try to make the gameplay more realistic, but it could use some fine-tuning, and if they can get that right, it would make for a nice feature.

 The overall design of the game’s stages and characters is solid, and although the game is a 2D side-scroller, it makes some objects appear in 3D. However, I did experience some crashes in the game that would cause my entire PC to freeze, even though my Nvidia 2070 Super RTX is more than capable of smoothly rendering its animation. I would then have to force the game to close and lose all my progress unless I was at a save point, and we know that, as fate would have it, you are never close to a save point when such things happen. Perhaps a day patch could fix these freezing and crashing issues.

Sound-wise, I was impressed. You can hear it when walking on different surfaces, climbing metal ladders, etc. When you take an injury, the sound goes fuzzy as you think it would when you take a knock in real life. The sound of the gun is what you would expect from a laser blaster, though that sound was one of the only sounds that became annoying. I think it’s just because you hear it so much.


The Mobius Machine, Gameplay, Screenshots, 2D Platformer, Review
 

The Mobius Machine is a game that probably would have had a lot of potential, but there are just some things that I can’t ignore that, unfortunately, take away from that. The game makes hard work out of simple tasks. While I understand that you need the jumping puzzles and brutal combat, The Mobius Machine doesn’t feel rewarding enough to keep replaying the same areas with the same enemies repeatedly, trying to find your way around. Being two-tapped by an enemy or falling all the way down after a difficult climb when you are just trying to reach a save point is incredibly frustrating, and honestly, it made me rage quit a couple of times, and that hasn’t happened since the days of Crash Bandicoot.

The Mobius Machine is an intriguing game with great promise, yet a few unavoidable factors diminish its overall excellence. It's not a hardware-intensive game but will only be released on new-gen consoles and PCs, which, considering that, in my opinion, The Mobius Machine won’t be redefining metroidvania or side-scroller genres, I find it odd that the developers wouldn’t take advantage of the older gens as well.


Laikyn Maria Siebritz
Editor, NoobFeed 

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX
Publisher(s): Madruga Works
Developer(s): Madruga Works
Genres: 2D Platformer
Themes: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Shooter
Release Date: 2024-03-01

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