Stop And Smell The Mushrooms
Sometimes you just need to boot up an easygoing, cozy game to rest your mind at the end of the day. Publisher Mooneye, who brought us Lost Ember, are great at curating these titles, and at PAX East 2023, they presented a new game by developers SomeHumbleOnion front and center: Shumi Come Home.
Shumi is a cute little mushroom lost in a little big world, strolling about to find their way home; all the while making new friends and discoveries. In any other game, the contents of Shumi would be labeled as fetch quests or collectathon structures, but the pacing is light and meandering. The starting map available in the demo doesn’t appear too big at first, but as Shumi makes friends and gains new abilities, new areas open up, and the world reveals itself at a relaxed pace for all its densely packed detail, and its vertical scope.
Shumi’s first and main ability is gliding on a leaf, but is also able to hook onto walls to jump up ledges. The canopy of trees above doesn’t seem so important at first from the ground floor, but as players scale, they’ll find more discoveries, details, and vantage points to take in the scenery and find their next destination.
Shumi requires players to check every nook and cranny. Shumi Come Home requires observance in order to discover hiding places where sparkling stones and items your friends need lie, like the sleepy lizard who just wants to eat a blueberry if you want to move on to the next level – he was my favorite. There is a careful hierarchy of these quests, but the character placement, goals and upgrades are smartly marking goalposts throughout each level. Representatives from Mooneye also confirmed that each level is a unique biome that will expand Shumi’s abilities, and some of those may be useful if players were to venture back to previously visited levels..
The presentation value is that of an N64 title, or even Katamari Damacy on the PS2 with jagged polygonal design and matted texturing, but that leaves plenty of room to play with color and lighting to make the world design pop. Much like Pikmin or Katamari, much of the charm of the world comes from the lovable bugs and critters you encounter, but also the forgotten monoliths of the human world like lighters and glassware.
As Shumi explores, players are also able to scan through a journal notating these strange items, flora, fauna and biology, and endless types of mushrooms in the pause menu. We highly encourage trying out Shumi Come Home if titles like A Short Hike and Animal Crossing appeal to you. The demo that at PAX East is available to play now on Steam for free, but the full game should soon release in Q3 of 2023. When it does, it will be available on PC via both Steam and itch.io, as well as Nintendo Switch.