Mosaic Switch Review – Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat!
Mosaic is a dark surrealistic and atmospheric adventure game about urban isolation and the dread of being a piece in a giant machine you can’t understand.
You live a monotonous and repetitive lonely life in a cold overpopulated ever-expanding city. The phone is distracting you with meaningless notifications as you move through anonymous crowds on your way to work at a megacorporation where yet another long day with overtime awaits. You have no real sense of meaning – until one crucial day when strange things start to happen on your commute to work and everything changes.
From the creators of Among the Sleep, Krillbite Studio is going from horrors of childhood to the dreadful lonely adult life.
When you think of a story, you expect it to have a defined start, middle, and end. Mosaic breaks that convention with having none of those. Instead, you start the game, literally dragging yourself out of bed, awoken by the alarm on your phone.
You play a nameless man with seemingly one objective in life, to get to work. This is made abundantly clear by the text messages you constantly receive on your phone, reminding you about lateness penalties and the persistent threat of your job security.
From your barren fridge to the mounting bills on your dining table and empty bank account, it’s clear you play a man on the edge of ruin, which in and of itself is heartbreaking and relatable to many in real life.
Your goal? Get to work before you accrue another later penalty which would see your salary receive a cut! In Mosaic you control your character with the left analog stick and interact with objects with the A button, pretty standard “point ‘n’ click” stuff.
Free Your Mind
It’s on this commute, however, when you notice strange things start to happen. There is no hand-holding in Mosaic, instead, you must use your intuition and look for visual cues. Such as the camera panning and zooming to a different perspective or your character looking in a different direction as you walk.
It’s all very subtle, but it works well and creates a feeling of realism. Many of the “Groundhog Days” style commutes will lead you to some odd happenings. Whether it’s the glowing static that provides you with some weird flashes of, what seems to be some sort of super-computer, or the equally surreal “dream state” sequences.
Each day that you make your lonely journey to work, you’ll be sent down a different path. You’ll know when you’re in the right place as you’ll see a colorful “swirly” (it’s the only way I can describe it) above your head. Hitting the A button a few times will trigger this dreamlike state of mind. I won’t spoil any surprises as the game is rather short and these sequences, whilst impressive, are few.
The journeys do, however, get slightly trickier as the week wears on. As mentioned before, you’ll take a slightly different route each time and many of the sequences will lead you to a puzzle segment. Completing these puzzles allows you to continue on. However, they can sometimes be fiddly due to some slack controls, but they’re cleverly thought out and varied.
Stick It To The Man
Every journey culminates in you arriving at work. It’s here that you discover the meat ‘n’ potatoes of the puzzles. Sat at your terminal, you are given a rather harsh daily target to meet. It’s a simple mini-game of acquiring and upgrading Extractors that churn out little blocks that you must send upwards toward your literal target.
Needless to say, with each passing day, not only does your target become more and more unrealistic, but the mini-game gets more challenging. It’s these portions of the game combined with all the imagery, both subtle and slap-in-the-face obvious, that really help to convey the underlying message of Mosaic.
Mosaic does a wonderful job of expressing many real-life struggles and stresses throughout adult life. From overwhelming debt to faltering job security, unrealistic workloads and simply, loneliness.
The latter of which is the game’s core basis. Everything from the understated audio, dark and dreary visuals and the solome look on your character’s face.
As you play through Mosaic, you really do start to get the feeling that the entire world is against you. Even the apps you can download to your phone seem to be rigged!
From the Bitcoin app where you just can’t catch a break, instead only adding to your debt, to the dating app that sees your dislike ratio far outweigh your likes. The implementation of your smart device really is a clever one and helps cement the fact that pressure can come from anywhere.
Overall, I had a good time with Mosaic. Though the story is downplayed somewhat in favour of mood and atmosphere, you have to approach the game as less of an interactive novel and more of an experience.
Mosaic uses some powerful imagery and symbolism to convey, what is otherwise, a very real problem with today’s society and that which many will relate too. Imagery such as stumbling across a dead body in an alleyway, to which the body still has a business suit on! It doesn’t take long to figure out that this is a victim of “The Machine” we call life.
The polygonal art-style used, with its mostly dark palette, that’s punctuated every now and then with bursts of colour is nothing short of genius. Couple this with its brooding and atmospheric sound design really helps build tension and foreboding.
Sadly, as much as I enjoyed most of my experience with Mosaic, it’s not without its issues. First of all, I noticed pretty much right from the off, that the game seems to be in an almost constant state of loading/saving. This, ordinarily, shouldn’t be an issue, however, every time it needed to load/save it severely hampered the frame rate. This caused the game to drop frames and at times completely freeze for a couple of seconds, dragging me out of the immersion.
Secondly, I encountered a couple of game-breaking bugs. Fortunately, at least, these were confined to the puzzle sections. Even still, you have to complete the puzzles before you can progress. My objective was clear, though I couldn’t get past a seemingly invisible wall, in turn, halting my progression.
It was only after I was forced to switch the game off, after exhausting every option and approach that something strange happened. I would boot the game back up, get to the part I was struggling on, then try my first approach (the most obvious one), and voila, it let me through!
Now initially, I chalked this instance up to me maybe being tired, causing a brain-fart, however, it’s when this exact same problem popped up again at a later, completely different point in the game, that threw me off.
I have no doubt that with a post-release patch to fix these issues, Mosaic could truly be something special. The game is rather on the short side for how much it costs which might make some people think twice about purchasing. That said, it really is a powerful game that I did enjoy, for the most part. Though in it’s broken state, it does make it difficult to recommend.
Hopefully, Krillbite can iron out the issues here as I really do feel that they are onto something with Mosaic and that it will resonate with all who play it.
Not Quite There/Needs Improvement
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Reviewed by Micramanic. Review side provided by Raw Fury.