Cute and cosy, Smushi Come Home is set in the undergrowth of a soft fantasy world. You play as a tiny, sentient mushroom, beginning the game on the little island where you live with your siblings. You run around the undergrowth, clambering over tree roots and brushing through fallen leaves. You learn how to control Smushi through a tutorial in which you – the bravest of your group – are asked to find your friend’s missing pet bug.
Suddenly, you are ripped from your idyllic existence by an enormous bird that plucks you from the ground and soars away with you in its clutches. You manage to wriggle free, but land further away from home than you have ever been before, and now you have to get back.
Your journey takes you through three different areas, all of which require you to solve puzzles to traverse. These require you to learn many new skills, some on your own and others with the help of friendly locals. The locals will often ask you for help with a task or their own or to trade gems you can collect in return for their help.
You can also collect crystals that create new skins in various colors and styles for Smushi to wear, as well as a compendium cataloging the different mushrooms you encounter. Between these and the optional side quests, there is plenty of incentive to explore every corner of the game.
The new skills you learn include floating on wind currents, diving under water, and scaling walls. A handful of characters will offer you challenges to see how well you’ve mastered these skills, with prizes for good performances.
These are all simple skills that most people will be familiar with from other games. But that simplicity matches the style of Smushi Come Home. It’s not designed to be overly complex. The puzzles are fairly easy, in a way that makes it a soothing, relaxing experience, as well as being child-friendly.
Your journey home allows you to meet lots of friendly creatures – many other sentient mushrooms, plants and bugs, as well as a little family of helpful capybaras. You learn a lot about the different communities that live out in the wide world, along with some information about Smushi’s place in the ecosystem. It’s a very sweet game that subtly encourages you to broaden your horizons and appreciate your roots.