Mosaic, a narrative driven modern adventure game that was developed by a Norwegian development team, Krillbite Studio. Their third title to be released has the player experiencing the monotony of everyday life. Ever wondered how it would feel to be amongst thousands of people and still feel lonely? In this title, you are merely a number, existence can be tough when you have no one to interact with. Something has to change, can you break the cycle of life and see if there is a world outside the oppressive conveyor belt? Reach for the colours and absorb the empathy of those that are brave enough to stand out from the crowd.
Your lonely existence starts in your small and sparse apartment. Your dream is broken by the shrill sound of your alarm, and so begins your day. Though this is day 1 for you as the player, you instantly understand that this routine has been completed many times before, without fail. You must tidy your hair, straighten your tie and brush your teeth; only then will you be ready. Follow the crowd and march in silence to your job, the ever present feeling of loneliness constantly surrounding you.
Your job is the only logical part of this dreamlike title, a very basic puzzle where you must move resources from the start to the end goal, a simple tutorial will enable you to understand how to succeed, but I assure you failure will not be on the cards. Complete your task, and your day will begin again, the same dream of floating disturbed by the same mobile phone alarm.
Day 2 of 5 starts with you thinking that there must be more to life, as you stare into the mirror brushing your teeth again, a dialogue begins, and so the weird narrative starts, your floating Jiminy Cricket guide appears in the form of a brightly coloured orange goldfish. His task you may be wondering? He wants you to change your thought process, he wants you to break this cycle, he needs you to realise that there is more to life. Each day now follows like the last, a fast forwarded cinematic will take you to a decisive point, the moment to realise that you are in charge of your own destiny. Presented in the form of a confused coloured swirl and a vivid image, whether this is an animal, or a musician, you will enjoy a dreamlike cutscene before the monotony of your day begins again.
The artistic style in the game reflects the surreal nature perfectly. The colours used are bland and the rare moment when there is a change from grey on grey really does represent hope and desire beautifully. The use of shading and lighting really brought the scenes to life. Krillbite Studio has successfully shown the lead character as the unique element with some subtle differences, such as his lack of jacket, every other character is uniformed in black attire, you are the only being to have facial features, perhaps this represents his unique personality and everyone else follows blindly as a faceless and unified persona. The cinematic evolves the storyline, it starts with a sinking/drowning image highlighting the daunting prospect of another day in his dull 9 to 5 life, to showing his revelations and hope as he begins to understand how he can break free.
With a game that is slow and repetitive you’d think that it would easily lack suspense or atmosphere, you’d be wrong. The audio used throughout is incredible, it does a great job of making you feel on edge, I was constantly waiting for something to happen, it never did but that didn’t matter. Every day that I was forced to experience his mundane existence, I was made to feel anxious. Internally, I begged for him to resolve his issues and find a better way, and this all came from the developers delivery of sound; it married up with the story perfectly.
Mosaic has a very clever way of pushing its oppressive theme, every element of the game highlights how easy it is for authority to control a situation. From the simple observation of the protagonists ever dwindling bank account, to the mobile phone apps which always work against you. The dating app shows that you are destined to live your life alone, swipe right to confirm you are attracted to them. Now the waiting game, will they match your desire? The featureless images always rejecting your profile. The stock market is always rigged to make you lose, buy low and watch the stock drop lower, sell your shares, and observe the price triple if not quadruple right before your eyes, don’t believe me? Try it for yourself, there is only one winner and it isn’t you. A daily stream of messages from your employer threatening to terminate your contract if you are repeatedly late, there simply is no escape.
The control system used is a simplified point and click, with the ability to move the character yourself, this makes the game very easy to play. Simply walk up to an item that you wish to use, and if you can interact with it, a white orb will appear and you select the item. Walking is slow and at times cumbersome, you will find that you get stuck on scenery, this does get a bit tiresome, but it happens so rarely that you just shrug it off, and move on. You have no inventory and your only possession is your mobile phone. With such a bare bones approach you can focus on the slow paced action, and absorb yourself in the titles damning atmosphere.
In a world where no one wants to interact with you, what better way to spend your time than to dive into a mindless mobile phone game. Blip blop the button bashing pointless time sink that will make you come back for more, when everyone around you turns their heads away when you try to interact, which they will, fill that social void with 5 minutes of finger tapping pain. The game not only personifies Krillbite’s theme of mundane loneliness perfectly, but it also acts as the games only way to score achievements. I found this to be a genius method to ensure that the gamer who wishes to complete the title 100%, must sit through hours of boredom to succeed at this goal. I admit I’ve tried to get the 1000G score, but to no avail. This isn’t due to me not putting in the hours, quite the opposite. I’ve so far ploughed around 7 hours of my life into tapping the A button repeatedly, the issue I have found is that though the game claims it has saved, it hasn’t, and there is no way to check, so when you load back in, you will be welcomed with hours of lost gameplay. Now this could be a glitch, or an exceptionally good ploy from the developers to further enhance the feeling that the machine will always win, however, I have the feeling that it isn’t the latter.
I loved my time as a faceless worker who was just a small cog in a much bigger machine, the horrific feeling of hopelessness and lack of control over my own destiny made this an intriguing experience. The slow pace and unusual concept will not be to everyone’s taste, but if you can look beyond that you will find a fantastic journey that will raise your spirits in a very short time. Will you be brave enough to fight back against the corporations? Leave your boring everyday life behind you, and find the freedom you truly deserve.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 5/10
Living in a world where everything you do is not good enough, and you are merely a faceless entity. Be brave and forge your own path.
- Unusual art style.
- Clever theme.
- Absorbing and atmospheric audio.
- The slow pace will not be for everyone.
- Data is not being recorded correctly for the achievements.