Mosaic is a game that I’d been eyeing on the Playstation Network for a while. It looked like it had something to say (as opposed to a game like Shadow Warrior, which is just an excuse to cut up bad guys with a katana). Unfortunately, it was twenty dollars, and I just wasn’t willing to shell out that kind of cash for a two hour game.
When I saw it on sale for ten bucks, I finally decided to grab it up and give it a chance.
What I ended up with was a game that did have something to say, although it probably could have said it better.
A Face in the Crowd
In Mosaic, you take control of a corporate drone over the course of a work week.
He wakes in a dimly lit apartment with little-to-no personality. You barely manage to drag him out of bed and get him cleaned up before having him shuffle out the door. From there, it’s down the elevator, through the lobby, and off to work.
One of the strongest aspects of this game is how Krillbite Studio used their soundtrack and simplistic art style to inject large doses of existential dread into these moments. When he’s brushing his teeth, a deep low sound reverberates almost oppressively as he stares listlessly into the mirror. When you run into other people, they lack facial features, which makes for an awkward elevator ride.
By the time you make it out onto the street, you begin to feel like the only “real” person, while everyone else feels like set dressing.
Late for a very important date
Each day of the game focuses on a particular part of the main character’s journey to the office. Day one is merely leaving your building, while day two is the walk to the train station, and so on.
As you sojourn toward your place of employment, you pass gray buildings, gray streets, and monochromatic signs advertising mind-numbing phone games. Everything is relentless in its same-ness, to the point where it becomes almost painful to look at.
If you bother to check your phone at any point during the trip–one of the few actions you can take in the game–you will be greeted with texts from people simply labeled “Friend” or “Work.” Texts from friends contain reminders that you can’t really be friends if you’re not playing the same phone games, while the ones from work state that if you are late a couple more times you will be immediately terminated.
A Glimmer of Hope
Interspersed throughout the slog to work are moments of respite from the doldrums of everyday life.
These moments are filled with light and color, and serve as food for the soul of the corporate drone, allowing him an escape from the prison that is his reality.
Whether it’s helping a cat down from a tree (and seeing parts of the city explode and collapse), or watching a butterfly flutter playfully about a construction site, each of these small moments allows him to take a breath for himself instead of going with the flow of the crowd.
Glitch in the Matrix
Unfortunately, much of the game is riddled with bugs and other issues.
There were several times where I had to repeat a section of the game because my way forward was blocked by an invisible wall. There was also some stuttering, which wouldn’t have been too bad except that it happened every three seconds or so. This caused me to constantly over- or under-shoot anything that I was aiming for.
There were also some issues with collision that would cause me to phase through walls or windows. This did lead to a hilarious moment where I was trapped in a storefront next to a mannequin, but was ultimately detrimental to the rest of my playthrough.
Striking Yet Flawed
No one likes going to work… well almost no one. Mosaic manages to capture the feeling of not wanting to go to work and distill it into a two hour game. That’s probably the best thing I can say about it.
It’s riddled with bugs, and despite its best efforts, the game’s message about conformity and breaking free to do what makes you happy is hamfistedlly shoved in your face. While it occasionally manages some amazing “cinematography,” has some great set pieces, and its symbolism can be completely on point, Mosaic never really manages to be the game it aspires to be.
I’m giving it a dreary 5.5/10.
Also FUCK BLIP-BLOP. I wanted all the trophies, but a trillion blops is asking way too much.