The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf Review

Three things I like about this game, and two I don't

The Smurfs - Mission Vileaf

By Paul Hunter

Recently, I tweeted images captured during my playthrough of The Smurfs - Mission Vileaf and was met with a bunch of "wait, there's a new Smurfs game?" responses. Clearly this title has flown under the radar but it shouldn't have, because it's actually an enjoyable experience, especially if you have kids.

Mission Vileaf is the first Smurfs title from Microids as part of their new multi-year, multi-title agreement with IMPS, the license holder of the Smurfs IP. It's a 3D action-adventure game with an original story starring Papa Smurf and his ace team of Smurfs who must stop their nemesis Gargamel from poisoning the Smurf Village and surrounding land. So let's head on into the Village Square, here are three things I liked about the game...and two I didn't.

Liked: The Colourful Graphics

The first thing that jumped out at me playing The Smurfs - Mission Vileaf is how nice the game environments look. They're far more detailed than a lot of licensed games out there and I'm particularly impressed given this is an indie developed title by the small but mighty team at OSome Studio. Certainly the visuals are better than I expected, especially in the vibrant Smurf Village that acts as the game's main hub spot.

Other areas in the game look great too, like Gargamel's Hovel that consists of his laboratory filled with bottles and gadgets, along with his spooky attic that's the source of the game's titular Vileaf. As the story goes, Gargamel has developed a formula to create the evil Vileaf plant and unleashes it across the land to spread its nasty corruption. All five large areas you'll explore in the game are covered in black Vileaf, but thankfully Handy Smurf creates the Smurfizer device that sprays rather cool-looking yellow mist that heals the land. Similar to Kena: Bridge of Spirits, areas are initially dark and corruption-filled, yet become brighter and filled with life as cleanse the infestation. It all looks great, even if screenshots don't do the visuals justice (for reference, I played the PS4 version on PS5, but an enhanced PS5 version is releasing on Dec. 14, 2021).

While on the topic of the game's presentation, I also want to point out the excellent voice acting that again is of higher quality than you'd expect for a budget title like this. There are many cutscenes and dialogue moments where the voices of Hefty, Brainy, Chef, Smurfette and Papa Smurf really shine.

Liked: The Nifty Smurfizer

Gameplay in The Smurfs - Mission Vileaf feels a lot like Super Mario Sunshine meets Luigi's Mansion. Your main tool, the Smurfizer, is similar to Mario's water spray gun in Sunshine, and midway through the game it'll gain the ability to suck up enemies and other objects like Luigi's vacuum. Anyone who's played those Nintendo games will feel right at home with Mission Vileaf's mechanics.

Your Smurfizer has other abilities as well, including gliding for several seconds and sprinting at high speed, in both cases using the mist as propulsion. You can also perform a SmurfoSplat, which is basically a ground pound that emits a circle of mist to heal nearby plants. Across the game's 14 main stages you'll use these Smurfizer abilities to glide, dash, and bash your way through fairly routine platforming segments that rarely gets challenging since it's a family title intended for all ages. But that doesn't mean the action is dull though, it's more so that you're in for a relaxing adventure that'll feel familiar yet still fun.

Liked: Searching for Goodies

Beyond simply clearing each stage there's reason to return and find the dozens of hidden items scattered around the areas. These take the form of five different resources, like wood, mushrooms and potions that can be traded for Smurfizer upgrades in the Smurf Village. These upgrades might improve your dashing or gliding handling, increase the Smurfizer tank size, or even increase the number of hearts (a.k.a. health) you have.

You'll often need to upgrade your Smurfizer with new abilities to locate all of the area collectibles, giving you post-game content to enjoy as you strive for 100% completion. Some of the goodies are well hidden or require precise timing, so it's a nice bump in challenge after finishing the main game.

Didn't Like: The Frame Stuttering

By and large, Mission Vileaf runs smoothly but the odd time here and there I encountered game stutters. It mostly happened whenever I snagged a resource collectible: the game would always momentarily freeze. I'm still not sure if it was an intended short pause or if the game was simply choking up whenever you grab an item, but either way it's distracting. There are also occasional frame drops during combat sequences against the Vilecritters, but thankfully you'll do a lot more platforming than fighting so it's not too egregious.

Didn't Like: The Akward Camera

I found the camera movements in Mission Vileaf to be a little stiff and slower than expected. Instead of sharp and precise camera turns like you find in most modern platformers, in this game you sometimes have to wait half a second for the camera to turn where you want it, which again may have been intentional but ultimately feels unpolished. It's too bad the game menu didn't have an option to speed up the camera—that would have improved the overall experience quite a bit.

The Verdict

Whether you're an older gamer like me that grew up with the Smurfs or are looking for your next family-friendly gaming adventure, The Smurfs - Mission Vileaf is a good game to check out. It's not innovative by any means and there are a handful of technical faults, but it offers a solid platforming experience that the whole family can enjoy. Plus with it's 14 lengthy missions, hundreds of collectibles and three difficulty settings, there's a lot of content to enjoy, taking up to 12 hours to fully complete. Microids says another four Smurfs games will launch over the next five years, and if they're anything like Mission Vileaf then consider me excited.

Final Score: 7/10 - Good

The Smurfs - Mission Vileaf details

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: OSome Studio
Publisher: Microids
Genre: Action-adventure
Modes: Single-player, Local Co-op
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

A key was provided by the publisher. Last updated January 2022.