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Mayhem in Single Valley Review: Pixel Puzzle Paradise

Have you ever had a day where seemingly everything and everyone is against you? One where you can’t escape conflict and you feel like you’re constantly on the run? Jack Johnson is having one of those days, but the manifestations of his conflict are mutated, acid-spewing humans and animals.

Yes, his name is Jack Johnson. No, not the singer! He’s a normal teen who was just about to set out for an art college when a mysterious entity unleashes hell on his small town. And you thought you were having a rough day?! Let’s learn more about Jack and see if his game is a grand adventure or a flat note in this review of Mayhem in Single Valley on the PS5.

Developed by Fluxscopic Ltd. and published by tinyBuild, Mayhem in Single Valley is a 2.5D pixel art puzzle game set in a world gone mad. But even through that madness, the game is absolutely stunning. Mayhem in Single Valley is clearly inspired by classic puzzle adventure games in its detailed pixel art, but the extra dimension of the environments and the shadows being cast by unseen clouds in the sky give this title a level of visual depth that makes it visually striking. This is an indie game from a small studio, so it doesn’t have the grandiosity of something like Octopath Traveler. However, the visuals are still extremely sharp, cohesive, and high-quality. Certainly a far cry from Fluxscopic’s previous game: You Are Not a Banana.

At the beginning of the game, the titular Single Valley is calm and quiet. You could even call it serene! Players are introduced to primary gameplay mechanics as Jack wakes up on his last day at home with his family. The controls are simple: movement is controlled by the left stick, you can grab and move objects with the triangle button, interact with the square button, and open your inventory by clicking the touchpad. Movement is very fluid, interactions are prompt, and navigating Jack’s house to complete chores and do favors for his mom feels good. In the process of completing those tasks, he begins to miss Single Valley before he has even left, which paints a picture of a guy who just wants to enjoy life.

That dream is crushed (and the game really starts) when Jack is bafflingly blamed for dumping chemicals into Single Valley’s water supply despite being blocks away from the scene of the crime. This even turns animals and various humans into acid-spewing purple people eaters intent on bringing Jack’s quest to clear his name to an end. From that point, the quaint puzzles of the intro quickly morph into life-or-death situations, where one wrong move or a single hit from a mutated enemy means Jack dies and has to begin back at the last checkpoint.

You can pick up trash can lids to take a single hit for you, but there’s no getting around one fact: Mayhem in Single Valley is pretty difficult. It’s easy enough to avoid the handful of enemy types at the beginning of the game, but in short order, you get swamped with many different enemies and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is partly due to the focus on puzzle-solving rather than combat. In fact, there is no combat.

Your best hope for survival in Mayhem in Single Valley is to collect various food items so you can toss them and distract the animal enemies that come for you. But even then, each animal only likes one type of food, and being chased by all different kinds doesn’t really inspire the calmness needed to cycle through your inventory and toss the appropriate food items to get them off your back. 

If you can avoid being melted, eaten, or maimed, there is actually quite a fun game to be enjoyed. Your personal opinion of Mayhem in Single Valley will largely depend on your feelings about puzzle games, so if you don’t tend to enjoy a noggin’ scratching puzzle, then you should probably look elsewhere. But, if you love a well-designed puzzle, there are plenty to be had here. Combine those intricate puzzles with an endearing cast and setting, some great writing, and a strong comedic backbone, and you get Mayhem in Single Valley: a great game for puzzle lovers.

Mayhem in Single Valley




  • Fantastic pixel art
  • Great story and characters
  • Well-designed puzzles


  • Can be pretty difficult
  • Not everyone will enjoy the lack of combat

Mike Alexander

Mike is a freelance writer who has been playing video games since he was able to hold a controller, having been fascinated by Sonic 2 on his mom’s Sega Genesis. That fascination and passion for the art form has grown exponentially nearly 30 years later, and he doesn’t see that fading away anytime soon. Some of his favorite game series of all time are Monster Hunter, Splinter Cell, and Prince of Persia. He still has a place in his heart for Sonic, but he doesn’t like to talk about it.

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