Developer: Krillbite Studio
Publisher: Raw Fury
Genre: Action & Adventure
Platform: Xbox One
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 23/01/2020
Price: £16.74 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Mosaic tells the tale of a depressed unnamed character, trapped within the monotony of a 9-5 job, working for a mega-corporation in a dystopian city where everything and everyone is grey. Rather than focusing on the “job” aspect of this character’s life, it focuses on his time away from the job, and more specifically, his commute.
To clarify before delving deeper into this review, Mosaic is very much a “walking simulator”. If you’re opposed to the sub-genre, or can’t justify spending roughly three hours trundling through a bleak world, then perhaps this game isn’t for you. It’s very slow by design, and your character moves slowly but purposefully through his daily routine.
There’s an element of repetition here: each day you’ll drag your character out of bed, brush his teeth and head out of the flat while miserably avoiding the stash of unpaid bills on your dining table and in your postbox. It could be perceived as a bit of a false extension on the story’s running time, but serves a purpose to remind the player of the Groundhog Day-esque nature of his life.
This sequence only lasts a couple of minutes before skipping past the previous day’s events and dropping you into one of five scenarios taken from your character’s commute, before ultimately arriving at his desk on the game’s fifth and final day.
On day two, things take a turn in a weird direction, and you’ll encounter a friendly goldfish in your bathroom sink. He’ll accompany you, finding comfort in your shirt’s chest pocket, and guide you through Mosaic’s brief story – offering a snarky commentary of your player’s life, his depressing situation and how he needs to make a change.
It’s not the most enthralling dialogue in the world, but does its job and kept me motivated to the extent that I felt I needed to ride the game out for the sake of our voiceless character – I had to make sure that he wasn’t stuck in this relentless cycle for longer than he needed to be.
As mentioned, the game is a walking simulator and a very linear one at that. The game won’t let you deviate from the predetermined path with no element of exploration to be found; it doesn’t quite offer the same level of wonder as, perhaps, Firewatch. For the majority, you’ll be holding the left stick towards your employer’s ominous skyscraper of an HQ, and riding out the journey, awaiting the next twist.
Occasionally, you’ll bump into a vibrant character or a bright little butterfly, and your character’s intrigue will pique – unsurprising when the world around you is a soulless shell, filled with cogs in the corporate machine. These little diversions form a majority of Mosaic’s “challenge”, as your character’s mental health is represented by an abstract section of gameplay which sees you travelling through a maze, or shrinking to the size of a mouse and getting stuck underneath the shoe of a passer-by like gum. If it sounds utterly ridiculous, that’s because it is.
During these sections, you’re joined by a brightly coloured blob, which allows you to rotate the camera and see the world from a different perspective. This gives Mosaic something of a puzzle element, albeit never forming so much of a challenge that you’ll be getting stuck. As quickly as these sections are introduced, you’ll be back into the walking simulator and trundling towards your workplace once more.
Once your player arrives at work for the first time, Mosaic introduces a mini-game which – as you may have guessed – is also very abstract. If you can imagine Mini Metro, where the objective is to make it from point A to B using limited “resources”, then you wouldn’t be far off the general premise.
Playing vertically, you harvest energy resources at the base and must direct these resources into appropriate positions to form a pathway to the goal – avoiding the occasional obstacle, and making use of teleporters and resource caches to overload the system and achieve your “milestone” for that particular day. These are nothing groundbreaking but serve as a nice little variation from your day-to-day routine.
Much like the puzzle elements from earlier in the game, this mini-game never really ramps up in the way you may expect, and you soon realise that this game is here to engage you with its story, while the gameplay undoubtedly takes a back seat.
Along the journey, you’ll also find yourself distracted by your in-game smartphone (as if your real-life smartphone wasn’t enough of a distraction) which you can use at almost any point. You’ll receive messages from work threatening you with immediate dismissal if you’re late, messages from long-lost friends trying to lure you into a pyramid scheme, and strangers asking you out on a date before instantly retracting the offer due to a “wrong number.”
It’s all meaningless in the grand scheme of things, and the phone itself could be ignored entirely without punishment, but it serves as a reminder as to how much of our modern lives are consumed by technology. It serves its world-building purpose well, and the news excerpts and text messages alike are equally well-written to give Mosaic’s dystopia a little backstory.
It all amounts to a unique game world with a character whose life is both insignificant and unique. His dreary life shouldn’t work as the spectacle of a game – people have their own 9-5 lifestyles to be worrying about, after all – but its abstract nature is alluring, to say the least. It may not be a great “game” in terms of the core gameplay, but as an interactive story – which I haven’t stopped thinking about since I completed it – I have to say that it does its job marvellously. This is marred to some extent by occasional dips in performance on Xbox One, but doesn’t detract so much from the experience that you’ll be losing sleep over it – the story alone will see to that.
Mosaic is living proof that video games can indeed be art. Its high price tag implies a level of quality that perhaps isn’t quite there; its gameplay is shallow and could be described by some as dull, but the story it tells is engaging and, in another lifetime, we may have seen it brought to life as an animated feature-length movie rather than as an interactive video game. If you’re against the “walking simulator” genre, then please avoid Mosaic. If you’re otherwise intrigued by what this review has told you, and if the price suits you, by all means, check it out.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Mosaic from the Microfost Store on the following link,