- Developer: Krillbite
- Publisher: Raw Fury
- Release Date: 23/01/2020
- Price: $19.99 / £15.99
- Review code provided by Raw Fury
Something you may not know about the lot of us here at Nintendad is that this is a pro-bono gig right now. I’m not forcing you to go and support our Patreon (though you totally should! It’s a super good idea and you should totally go do it!) but it tells you that I have to work a regular job while I happily give you, the adoring public, these reviews. Now, up until recently, I have worked at what some of you might call a “Big Box Store”. These kind of jobs employ hundreds of people locally and tens of thousands globally. The trade off for security in being employed there is that you can very much feel like a cog in a massive machine that could replace you if it felt like it. This feeling of being replaceable, and the amount of energy draining force that brings to you as a person are a main focus with the entire narrative for Mosaic.
So let’s talk.
Another Day, Another Dollar
Mosaic opens up with your protagonist, a fairly young-looking male who is woken up by their alarm clock. The apartment is almost bare, save a few things. His apartment really feels empty and cold. It’s not a place that you want to spend a lot of time in. The developers have really put a lot of effort into setting the mood for what this person’s life is like, and it really started to resonate with me.
At the beginning of every day in this game, you head to the bathroom to freshen up. There are a few options you have; three to be exact. You can either straighten up your hair, fix your tie, or you can brush your teeth. Fixing you hair or your tie are pretty small things with no real consequence, but there’s something special when you brush your teeth. After going over all your pearly whites and spitting out the junk in your mouth there’s a moment. For a brief moment, your character hangs their head low and you can feel this great hesitation where he tries to motivate himself to go to a dead-end job and THIS is where I started relating to the game. For a brief second, this man is everyone and also, very much me. This game is full of these small movements that pack a great deal of meaning to the story
Mosaic is something special, let’s be clear here. However, before we get into the meat of why this game is special, we need to talk about what caliber of game this really is. For me, Mosaic lies in the same realm as industry greats like Limbo and Inside. I feel like this belongs in games that, while interactive, strive to tell a story through atmosphere rather than through what the player actually does. Let me explain.
Up In The Atmosphere
As I said before, the atmosphere in this game is heavy. In this dystopian future, it’s not all nuclear war and zombies, but it’s a corporate-dominated, dreary grind. Everywhere you look, the people all look the same in their corporate suits and featureless faces. Nobody wants to make eye contact and the entire human connection between people is nearly non-existent. The world seems devoid of color, no, of life. So, as you trudge through each new day as your sad self you get to see a little bit more of the world that you inhabit. The first day is walking to work. It’s here that you start to see what the game is trying to have you understand by the time you’re done with everything.
You see a butterfly across the street. The camera zooms in on this beautiful creature as your character stands mesmerized. You keep walking, but you soon realize that you are now in control of this butterfly! As you begin to fly in the same direction that you were previously walking, you see that the butterfly is flying through a construction site that seems to be actively trying to kill this bug. Finally, after making through some pretty scary situations, you reach the end of this whole traumatic experience or cranes trying to murder this magnificent specimen and then… AND THEN… THE GAME SUCKS IT INTO A FAN, KILLING IT INSTANTLY. The music that had been guiding you gently along cuts out and your character just stares at the little yellow wings slowly fluttering in the wind as they fall to the ground. It was heartbreaking and it honestly took me a few moments to get my bearings before I could move on. There are several moments like this throughout the game, so look forward to those.
See The Sights
Something I haven’t mentioned before now is the fact that this game was developed by both a game studio and the Norwegian Film institute. Now, this is important to know before you start playing because the game certainly feels like a film at times. From the camera angles to just how the scenes are framed, you’ll see how beautiful and thought out the visuals are in this game. It’s stunning and heartbreaking at the same time. I cannot urge you enough to take your time as you play this whole thing. It’s a beautiful experience.
Taking It Slow
I need to be clear on some things here: Mosaic is not for everyone. If you’re looking for action, chase scenes or explosions, you’re in the wrong place. There isn’t, as far as I have seen, a single scene where you do so much as run. The pace of this is slow and methodical. Honestly, it’s a great break from all of the games I’ve played recently that are all about going fast and rushing through. Given how I’ve been talking about how this game makes you feel about this character, trudging about kind of fits for what’s going on.
This has never been about how FAST you can experience this story, in fact, there are a lot of great moments in this game where you are rewarded for taking your time. Throughout the entire experience that is Mosiac, you are surrounded by greys and blacks and dark colors. But every so often as you walk off the beaten path you start to see areas that are brighter and noticeably more colorful. Investigating these new areas rewards you with seeing a beautiful space that is so welcoming and warm as compared to the icy barren sadness that is the rest of this world you live in. Now, a heads-up on these wonderful areas: THINGS GET WEIRD FAST. I think this is because your character is kind of a day dreamer, but I refuse to spoil any of those wonderful and crazy moments for any of you. They are scenes that you need to experience for yourself.
Glitches In The System
This game performs pretty well for that capabilities of the Switch. The visuals all looked fabulous and I loved looking at the incredible set pieces that the game had to offer. I did notice some pretty consistent chugging graphically when certain scenes were loading in. I hope that a patch of some sort could remedy it, but it’s nothing that made me want to throw the game down and stop playing. I had a pretty smooth time playing every time that I picked it up. Maybe I’m easy to please, but I don’t think you’ll have a bad time with this.
Mosaic is fabulous. For me, it was a perfect story that encapsulated how I felt trapped in my job and helped me cope with some complicated feelings. I would love to see more things like this from these fine folks. Pick it up if you have the chance.
- Super relatable story
- Gorgeous visuals
- Incredible atmosphere
- Some Slight Performance issues
- Can be offsetting for people who want a fast pace
- Will leave you probably disenchanted with your current job
Mosiac may not be for everyone, but it’s a trippy story that a LOT of us can relate to. Fight the power.