Stay, Mum ($2.99) by Lucid Labs is a narrative physics-based puzzle game that will tug at your heartstrings, since the story is fairly relatable. Whether you care about the story or not, Stay, Mum is a cute puzzle that is friendly enough for all ages.
When I have some time to spare, I love sitting down and playing a good old puzzle game on my iPhone. To me, they are the most relaxing types of games, but at the same time they stimulate my brain so it just doesn’t turn to mush for the next hour. Plus, if my mind is kept busy, it prevents me from thinking about other stuff that just stresses me out, so it’s a win-win situation. Even though I feel like I’ve gone through hundreds of puzzle games in the past few years, I’m always on the lookout for new ones, especially the titles that stand out from the rest, so naturally I was intrigued when I first heard of Stay, Mum.
The visual style in Stay, Mum is gorgeous, as it features a simple and flat aesthetic that fits in well with modern iOS standards. Despite this, I’m reminded a bit of South Park characters because of the way the mom and her son, John, are modeled — large heads, slimmer bodies, and cutout animations for movement. There is a soothing, whimsical soundtrack in the background that is a joy to listen to, so I recommend getting a good pair of earbuds while you play this. The sound effects are also fairly realistic and may bring back a sense of nostalgia to when you were a child and played with blocks yourself.
Stay, Mum features five chapters and a separate tutorial section to show you the ropes. In the future there will be two more chapters, so that is something to look forward to. Each chapter has 10 levels to complete, and while there aren’t any move restrictions or time limits, the faster you are, the better. The goal in each stage is to help John complete shapes by using the provided blocks, but the magical thing here is the fact that each block has a different use case, all fueled by John’s wild imagination. Players are shown the shape outline before seeing the blocks available to use, and you have to recreate the shape from memory. As you make progress in the game, you will find out more about the bittersweet relationship between John and his mother, who is a single mom working to make a living for the both of them.
The controls in the game are simple and intuitive. To rearrange the blocks into the shape, just drag them where you want them to go. If you need a reminder of what the shape outline was, just tap on the eye icon that is underneath the dotted line on the screen. When you think you have the shape right, tap on the “gravity” button to make the blocks fall — this is where physics comes into play. In order to complete the level, the blocks must still resemble the specific shape by the time they touch the ground. If they fall over, you’ll have to try again. And with the different types of blocks you’ll get later on, things become tricky, as you’ll have blocks that float and need to be weighed down with another one, and more.
As a fan of puzzle games, I’m loving Stay, Mum so far. The visual aesthetics are beautiful, the tranquil music is alluring, and the controls are super easy to learn and master. The physics that are involved make the gameplay challenging, and that is always welcome in my book. But the real kicker for me here is the story involved — it’s a relatable one that I’m sure many can understand (including myself), so it’s rather touching to see it unfold as you play. While I’m still early on in the game, I’ll admit that there have been some moments that have made me get rather emotional.
I recommend giving Stay, Mum a try for yourself if you are a fan of puzzles and heartfelt narratives. Stay, Mum is a universal download on the App Store for $2.99.