First off, many thanks to ddickinson
for gifting me this classic game, it's been on my wishlist ever since showing up on GOG.
I must admit this was not the quick & easy game I expected. It took me more than 10 hours to complete, most of which was spent desperately crawling around like a confused little cockroach - which is exactly what you are in the game. Apparently, many people complete this in 4-5 hours or less but my insect brain is not that capable. Getting into character, I guess!
Back in the 90s, I only played the demo which is very short and doesn't showcase any of the harder parts and makes you think it's a simple corridor style game. It is not! While it's mostly linear in that there is only one solution to each problem, some of the areas allow you to crawl around in all directions which is fun at first because you feel like a little roach that will conquer the world...until you get eaten by the house cat, one of many ways to die in this game.
Most of the time it's hard to keep track of where exactly you are, and where you are supposed to go. The microcosmos perspective means you only see a tiny part of the world, even if that world is just a kitchen or bedroom. Fortunately, the game switches to a wider view at some strategic points and that really helps with orientation. Backtracking is still a major pain in the rectum and if this is your first playthrough you're probably going to do an uncomfortable amount of it. No fast travel option, no skipping screens. Being a slow little roach that can't even wade through a drop of water is a true test to your patience. On the other hand, your physical limitations as a roach add to the realism and make interacting with the world a highly original experience.
Puzzles are surprisingly tricky, fortunately only one puzzle is entirely devoid of logic. There are plenty of hints strewn throughout the game if you make the connection but the solution is so out there it's not even moon logic, it's just esoteric.
There are hints for every single puzzle, sometimes in the form of a short video clip and sometimes it's documents you crawl over. Observation is key. No pixel hunting for tiny objects since everything is many times larger than you. It's easy to miss important hints though and if you don't explore every nook and cranny and keep your 2000 lenses and antennae out, you will get stuck completely in some places.
The game is mostly a mental challenge, luckily controls are dead simple: All you need are the four arrow keys. You have no inventory, all you can use is your puny body weight to push little things around. At first, this seems way too primitive to allow for any kind of interesting gameplay. But as the game progresses you'll be surprised by all the great things a little roach can do.
Presentation, style and atmosphere are the real strong points of this game. Pre-rendered scenery means the graphics have aged surprisingly well. Sounds are eerie, music is used only sparingly. The story is told via flashbacks and visions ranging from odd to weird to disturbing. These short cutscenes are triggered when you come across particular objects and places. There is no dialogue in the active part of the game. Aside from the ever lurking but easily avoided house cat, there are no jump scares. It's easy to die and you'll probably die quite often, fortunately the game doesn't require any jump & run dexterity, you have ample time to navigate your way around dangers. There's only one timed sequence at the very end.
There are four different endings to the game of which I only discovered two, both entirely depressing. Apparently, there is a third bad ending and one possible good ending but I could not make it happen, even though the solution was clearly suggested in a vision cutscene and I knew what had to be done. Utterly frustrated, I looked up a walkthrough but even then I couldn't make the good ending happen, not sure if I would have had to do something different earlier on. I wasn't patient enough to play the game again so I watched the good ending on the internet, thanks Youtube!
If you are easily grossed out, this game may not be for you. Bad Mojo does not take place in a 5 star hotel so expect to see rotting food and lots of generally disgusting things, all lovingly detailed. It's a fabulously filthy and gritty environment, a very refreshing change from the sterile and flat levels so many 3D games had in the late 90s and still have today.
For adventure fans who aren't afraid to switch it up and try something different, Bad Mojo is a must have. You'll need to be resilient and patient like a cockroach and open minded at the same time. That will save you disappointment and reward you with a unique experience. This is not a "gamey" game, it's a surreal trip. Veni, vidi, creepy!
EDIT: Here's a screenshot from the intro, this is what I look like when I get stuck in adventure games: