First Impressions: Epic Mickey is the best-looking game I’ve ever seen

Infendo

I know beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, but…wow. This game is freaking gorgeous. Screen shots don’t do it justice; You have to see it in motion on your own tv. It’s like a finely detailed chalk pastel painting come to life. I kept stopping to simply stare at the living artwork on my television screen.

And the visuals are really solid—not a glitch or tear to be seen yet. The frame rate’s great 99% of the time.

I love Mickey’s animation; The guy looks alive. The controls feel great. Not Mario great, but far better than the loosey-goosey butter-shoes some reviewers have complained about. I’m not the world’s most skilled platformer, and I haven’t missed a jump yet. Well, okay, one—but landing on a wet hippo’s head isn’t easy. Mickey’s actions, weight and momentum feel toon-perfect. Just watch the cool way he stretches, squashes and snaps as he jumps. Watch the way he flattens like a pancake if he jumps from too high up and loses a pip (life point).

The paint & thinner mechanic is a joy to use. It’s nothing miraculous: When you first try it you’ll instantly recognize its limits, but you’ll probably also think: Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Like the dimension switches in Super Paper Mario, it opens up new possibilities in puzzles and platforming.

Before I forget to mention it: Best tutorial cinema ever! Gus Gremlin rocks.

I’ve only played a few hours so far, but I’ve already experienced some consequences for decisions I’ve made…I paid dearly for a hasty choice, and now a particular character hates me, but I did get a cool item out of the bargain. And I really like that aspect of this game: You can’t succeed at every quest in one play-through. You can’t make every character happy, and there are tough choices to be made–in a Mickey Mouse game!

Now the million dollar question: Is it fun? So far, heck yeah! I just spent two hours running around inside a nightmare version of It’s a Small World—a version where the boats get sucked down into whirlpools and the smiling clock tries to kill you while blaring the ride’s infamous theme song!

Not Mario Galaxy 2 fun. More like Super Mario Sunshine fun. Fun enough!

Will it remain fun in the long run? Stay tuned. Honestly…I have no idea what this game’s going to do next. The first hours were mostly tutorials, exploration and platforming. Now that I’ve reached Mean Street and Ostown (which is where the game’s visuals really hit their stride) the game’s suddenly become a fetch quest. So far I’m enjoying it, because the characters are likable, well-written, and amazing to watch.

I’m not sure what kind of gameplay awaits at my next destination, Mickeyjunk Mountain. Okay, right there—This game has a location called Mickeyjunk Mountain. That’s worth the price of admission.

Any disappointments so far? Minor things. The camera isn’t always your friend, but it’s not a disaster. The pacing is a bit leisurely, but that’s actually a plus for me. The invisible autosave is a bit unnerving: You just have to trust that you can simply quit playing without losing much progress. The game, while very polished and slick, doesn’t feel as seamless as a first-party Nintendo release: It’s loaded with fade-out transitions and cut-away camera shots that briefly interrupt the gameplay flow.

One thing is certain: If you’re a Disney fan, you’ll be in a continual state of joy while exploring this game. You’ll be shouting things like: Scar! Dippy Dawg! The random huge green elephant Disneyland temporarily installed in the Penny Arcade for no apparent reason! The game’s designers have stuffed this thing to the gills with amazing details that add an extra level of spot-the-reference fun for fans.

I’ll post a full review soon, but I want to end with one last observation about the area where this game has really delivered: Five hours in, I already love Wasteland. I actually care about its inhabitants and I’m ticked off at Mickey for not remembering Horace and Clarabelle. Jerk! I want to see this story through to the end and set things right for these characters.

More to come!