The fact that Mosh Pit Simulator has nothing to do with either mosh pits or simulators is probably the least strange thing about the game. Indeed, if anything Mosh Pit Simulator is an anti-simulator, dedicated to thwarting any sense of realism or believability at every turn. It’s a game where you can pick up a fire engine and throw it like a stick, where boneless humans drive upside-down cars around a city direct from an FPS made in 1999.
It’s a deliberately terrible game, a sort-of virtual-reality hybrid between Goat Simulator and Garry’s Mod. If you’re a certain kind of person, I can imagine that combination being very appealing, and somewhere down the line Mosh Pit Simulator might become the game you’re currently imagining. In its current Early Access state, however, Mosh Pit Simulator feels empty and one-note, an open-world sandbox dedicated to telling the same joke over and over, like a broken Tim Vine robot.
Believe it or not, there is actually a premise to Mosh Pit Simulator’s cornucopia of nonsense. An alien virus has turned the world’s population into naked, rubbery skin-bags capable only of bobbing up and down and making “bloo bloo bloo” noises. The story mode is essentially a glorified tutorial that teaches you the basics on interacting with the world. You climb a building, punch a shark, and go into space. You know, the usual stuff.
You interact with Mosh Pit Simulator’s world in three ways: punching, grabbing, and combining things together. Every object in the game that isn’t a building can be picked up and thrown, regardless of how large or heavy it is. You can also combine any two objects together by holding one in each hand and slapping them together, so if you got two spinning gears you can create a simple mechanism, or you can build a launchable missile using a rocket and a big red button.
I will admit that Mosh Pit Simulator did make me laugh. The first time you grab a shipping crate or some other enormous object and punt it across the city is amusing, as is the first time you launch an object into the sky using rockets. The sheer ludicrousness of the game’s latex humans is also undeniably fun. One of the game’s running jokes is that, despite the slight handicap of lacking any skeletons whatsoever, the population carries on trying to do normal human things, like going shopping or walking the dog. It’s hard not to crack a smile when you see what basically amounts to a giant flesh condom, horribly contorted, trying to ride a bike across town.
Despite laughing at the initial joke, however, the novelty of Mosh Pit Simulator quickly wears off. Firstly, there’s precious little variety to the things you can create. It’s true that you can stick any two items together, but mainly what you end up with is a mess, while the lack of actual crafting components limits you to make crazy whirling machines and rocket-propelled everything.
A more pressing issue is that there’s not an awful lot of payoff for doing these things. I don’t mind the lack of structure, but the absence of any weight or heft to the physics engine means that any contraption you make simply isn’t satisfying when you set it off. The beauty of physics-powered games is seeing the objects react together in ways that seem plausible, even if the context is totally absurd. That’s what made Half Life 2’s Gravity Gun so much fun. It wasn’t simply the fact that you could fire a toilet at a Combine soldier, it was that pelting your opponent with a giant chunk of ceramic felt exactly as you might imagine it.
In Mosh Pit Simulator, all the objects feel the same, whether it’s a fire hydrant or a fire engine. Items feel weightless and collisions hollow. Consequently, most of the game’s absurd slapstick humour literally falls flat. It’s fine for a comedy game to be daft and ridiculous and unbound from the rules that might apply to other games, but it at least needs to feel good, and currently Mosh Pit Simulator does not.
Mosh Pit Simulator also made me feel quite sick when playing it. Like most VR games, it gives you a choice between moving around with the analogue stick or teleporting around the world. But the teleport isn’t a true teleport, instead you just move forward very fast. Hence, your brain still thinks it’s moving when it’s not, with the end-result of Hello Nausea.
As always, we need to bear in mind that this is Early Access. The developer, Sos Sosowski, has another six months of development planned. Planned updates include destructible buildings, driving and, er, skateboarding modes (which makes me feel green just thinking about it), and most importantly, more crafting components.
I think the idea of a slapstick comedy crafting game could work really well. But even a deliberately bad game needs to feel good to play in order to be enjoyable. Meanwhile, there aren’t enough crafting components to create interesting contraptions, and the sandbox currently more resembles a desert. Joke games are all well and good, but as it stands Mosh Pit Simulator is one joke that runs dry far too quickly.
April 7 2020 | 14:00