Mewgenics, the next game from The Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy creator Edmund McMillen, has been a long time coming. First announced over a decade ago back in 2012, it was cast aside as McMillen turned to other projects, before he made the announcement in 2018 that he was returning to the feline turn-based strategy game with the help of fellow developer Tyler Glaiel. Now, McMillen has shown off the most extensive Mewgenics gameplay footage in quite a while, courtesy of a TikTok video.
While the vertical TikTok format isn’t perhaps the best way to check out an upcoming game, everything McMillen has to show reminds me why I’m so excited to see what he’s got cooking. He kicks things off showing the cats he’s currently breeding in his in-game house, where you can see their individual starter abilities and DnD-like stats.
Ready to head out for a run, McMillen puts a collar on each to define their classes – a Hunter, a Mage, a Tank, and a Thief. We also see two other collars, one with a heart (perhaps a Healer) and another with a paw symbol (I’m thinking a Fighter, given the theming). When the run starts, the group is presented with a set of paths to choose from in the manner of games such as Slay the Spire, although some appear to be locked off for now.
Getting into a fight, the grid and turn-based combat is perhaps most reminiscent of Into the Breach – a comparison I don’t make lightly, given how magnificent that game is. McMillen’s Thief has an ‘Alpha Strike’ passive that lets them take an extra turn at the start of battle, and the squad gets to work moving into position and using their mana to clear out enemies.
The battlefield itself can alter dynamically in response to abilities. Patches of grass can be affected by elements such as fire, water, or frost, causing them to burn away, grow taller, or turn into deadly, piercing shards respectively. McMillen has previously promised “all the common elements you’d expect, but also quite a few oddball ones that I won’t spoil just yet,” so it’ll be interesting to see what shows up.
After the battle, his Tank kitty levels up, earning some bonus Constitution, along with a choice from several new skills. Much like Into the Breach, a lot of these have useful movement tricks. ‘Grab’ pulls a unit within two tiles over to your character, ‘Tantrum’ hits all units around them and then spawns a rock, and ‘Trampledash’ moves in a direction, trampling over all units in your path.
McMillen also nets himself a Scrap Metal Hat, an item that applies some bonus armor (so, naturally, he pops it straight on the Tank). Moving further along the path we encounter an event: one cat, Tobby, encounters a closed window. There’s a choice to ‘Bash’ or ‘Examine’ – with the success of each one determined by a certain stat.
Tobby, being more of the physical type than a thinker, is more suited to bashing, so that’s what McMillen does. In true Binding of Isaac fashion, this does net Tobby with an upgrade, but it’s a bit of a grim one – you have been warned. As he shatters the window, glass shards get embedded into his paws. This means his attacks will now apply a bleeding effect to enemies, but they’ll do the same to him as well. Ouch.
McMillen isn’t stepping away from his love of the cartoonishly grisly, then. The three-minute teaser video has certainly reminded me why I’m excited to see what’s next from the man who arguably spawned the roguelike renaissance. “We will definitely be posting actual, high-resolution gameplay runs next year… maybe later this year, we’ll see,” he says in closing, “stay tuned.”
The Mewgenics release date is currently set loosely for 2024 – you can wishlist it on Steam in the meantime if you like.
If you want something to play for now, we’ve picked out the very best roguelike games for those of you who just need one more run. Alternatively, why not see what things are like on the other side of the garden fence and check out the best rat games on PC?