Developer: Krillbite Studio
Release Date: December 5, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Raw Fury
You wake up, straighten up your hair and clothes, brush your teeth, and head out the door to work every morning. It becomes a constant reminder that some of us aren’t doing what we genuinely want to do. Why? Well, because those bills that are piling up and they aren’t going to pay themselves and our obsession with human interaction gets harder and harder as our best online pictures judge us. Indie developer Krillbite Studio attempts to convey these messages and more in their adventure Mosaic, but as thought-proving, as it is, the execution is lackluster.
Even if you don’t work a 9 to 5 job, I feel Mosaic offers some relatable moments for anyone struggling to exist in a city. Players take on the role of a man who is at his breaking point with the repetitive nature of days. Throughout the game, you notice his studio apartment slowly becoming less orderly as he desperately longs for something to take him out of the situation that he has found himself in.
Feelings of loneliness and not fitting in reign true in this story as the game relays on the player to take things slowly through its set pieces. Life passes the player by on the commute to work, which makes the player’s eyes wander across the screen, searching for anything to break the slow-moving protagonist. Usually, something takes the player out of reality and into a surreal world that exists in the man’s head. As beautiful as these scenes are, they become relatively obtuse, and I feel like the messaging gets lost as the game’s pacing fails to capture whatever message they are trying to tell.
That said, there are some brilliant moments of design in this game. It’s seen in the sleep-aid ads that are right next to energy ads and the feeling that strangers are avoiding your presence. In terms of the overall design, Mosaic nails this world, but existing in it never seemed to excite me as a gamer. Later on in the game, things become a bit more supernatural as you dive deeper into the character’s imagination and witness his desire to break the cycle. Still, again, the messaging just become lost in the gameplay elements.
Outside of walking in a general direction to get through the story, Mosaic has a mini-game section that describes what the character does at work. This is where the player will send dots through a maze and delegate resources to capture more points until you get to the top. I didn’t like this section of the game, but I feel like that is what the developer wanted. It’s never fun doing what is considered to be “busy work” and having a job that requires you to check in every day to perform the same tasks could lead to some frustrating moments.
Mosaic has you go through unsettling moments of gameplay for most of its two and a half hour runtime, which is broken up with imagination and discovery. Some complicated things are happening in this world, but most of it is an exaggeration of the character’s perception of his situation. Realizing that took me to some dark places where I have felt in some ways this lost in life. You get stuck in repetition, and soon years pass by, and everything is the same as when you started. Sure, you have goals, but no time to execute them. Sadly, most of the elements in this game might only be considered fun to a select group of people, and the general gaming audience will feel lost to the messages that it is trying to convey.
Still, Mosaic is a beautiful game, and the music that it has stands out prominently in the bleakness of this world. The developers set out to tell a story, and that’s what they did. I felt that the pacing of the game, as slow as it is, allowed me to take in this world a little more. The longer I played, the more I related to some of what was going on. I applaud this indie team for being able to create something like this.
The developers should be proud of how Mosaic turned out. They set out to tell a story of depression and the longing for an escape from a daily grind, and they did just that. However, it’s tough to relate to any of this if you are not making the right connections. It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the gamer either, as the game attempts to spell all things out, but very little of it manages to hit its mark.
I was lost in the world of Mosaic, as small as the audience for this game may be, there are some great moments of light-narrative storytelling, and the design choices did wonders to its appeal. However, the actual “gameplay” slows everything down to a crawl and doesn’t make for an approachable gaming experience. I like a lot about Mosaic, but I feel like the story it’s trying to tell isn’t very inviting to those who can’t relate.
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