I’ve said it more than once; I’m very pro for education in video gaming. The most recent title, BodyQuest, was a definite highlight which taught the whole household about ‘bones and stuff’. Now it’s nature’s turn in Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia.
From RedDeer Games, the game is almost a spiritual successor to their other title, Under Leaves – also by Circus Atos. If you haven’t read the review, please do so, and I’ll high five you on the way back. It’s a chill game, but I would have liked to have seen some fact cards so that we all could learn about the animals and habitats in the game.
Well, Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia takes that on board and does precisely that. The best way to describe it to the modern parent is the inlay card from a Bear YoYo. Inside, you’d get a little fact card about something to educate the kids, which lasts longer than the actual treat. Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia is that, and it’s peppered with engaging facts about the world around us.
My motivation for playing the game was primarily to experience with my four-year-old. Upon seeing the trailer, she immediately wanted to play it, and I repeatedly had to explain to her that it’s not out yet. You can imagine her surprise when we received an early review copy (thank you, RedDeer Games!).
So, what’s Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia about? There’s a big clue in the title: an interactive book for children (and adults) to learn about the world we share with wildlife. Unless you have a keen interest in botany and insects, you’ll be learning new things from the outset.
You play the mouse of the title and physically explore four different habitats by either directly moving them about with the analogue stick or touching the screen on where to go. At the time of reviewing, we solely played in handheld and found that the touchscreen was what my daughter used, whereas I used the stick when on my own.
Note ‘on my own’. Yes, Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia was for my little girl, but as she can only write her name, compiling a review would be a big ask. Imagine my surprise that I enjoyed my solo experience with it and genuinely learned new things.
Let me clarify that I don’t know about bugs because I’m not interested in them. I was never the child that brought in woodlice or an ant collection like the cat bringing in a dead mouse, so learning about these critters now, is simply fascinating.
According to the blurb, there are 160 information cards in Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia (there’s an index where you can manually look through all the items, though it doesn’t have a search feature). That’s a lot to take in, and to be honest, it was the reason why I would play in small doses as I was genuinely taking it all in.
Very much like an old school encyclopedia entry, you’ll often see the Latin term, some diagrams and interesting facts on the subjects diet, life expectancy and more.
For younger children such as my own, you have to read this to them, and while the language used is very accessible, there will be a lot of vocabulary that they won’t understand (parents too). In this regard, I would read it aloud and try to give some examples and actions. Alternatively, depending on what we were investigating, the scene would animate as above.
According to the illustrator Tereza Vostradovská, the mouse was chosen for its size, that it ‘can fit every place and can search out its environment’. I have to admit; it’s super cute.
The entire design is gorgeous, and Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia is the kind of title to get lost in either as a way of indulging in the facts, or like how I did it, small doses and digesting it all. Since playing the game, as cheesy as it sounds, I’ve been a bit more mindful when taking the dog for a walk. That doesn’t mean I’ve turned it up to eleven on Buddhism, but noticing things more and that what I thought was a dragonfly or ‘Daddy Long-Legs’ is something completely different.
I only have two issues with Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia. The first isn’t an issue, just something that would have improved the experience, and that would be having a search option in the index. The second one is more of annoyance with a button config. If you press B, you’ll exit out of the level at any point. This was a pain as I’m the type who rests my thumb on the B button, and when shifting from the PS5 to the Switch, press it in error.
Neither one should influence whether you should get this or not. I’m putting this down as an essential one, but let me make it clear: this is an interactive encyclopedia, and while there are some adorable touches of exploring the world, climbing trees and sailing in an acorn(?), it’s not a game as such. I meant, it’s evident in the title and game description, but within the context of its purpose, Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia is beautiful, and I highly recommend it.