I am glad I don’t do review scores on here. Some games are just too difficult to score, with Mosaic falling into that category. You see, Mosaic is neither one thing or the other when it comes to deciding its worth.
The concept is interesting, as you start by taking the part of an unnamed protagonist who sets about his day. A day that feel very mundane, to do a job that feels very mundane. The nature of this is shown by using a colour palette that consists of nothing but greys, with a blue hue. It should leave you feeling very cold and unispired from the outset.
Mosaic from the outset really piques your interest. Intrigue is there way before it throws in some twists and distractions. With these designed to break up the supposed monotony of every day life.
Goldfish, a gate leading to wonderment, a lone butterfly and surreal day dreams all add a colour to the greyness. It is a clever way to show what the narrative is trying to lead to, even if it is a little on the nose. The way Mosaic uses colour should be congratulated, as it works excellently.
For the most part it works, but never has you having any moments actual wonderment. Which is something I felt the developers were trying too hard to do. In fact, it felt like the game had to force certain elements and you could tell.
The game is a narrative driven one. The problem of sorts, comes from the game trying to have many layers to it. At times, it almost feels like it struggles to breathe.
There are many different elements each fighting for attention. The tone of the story, the interactions with your phone, the work cycle and the point and click elements. Each one trying to feel as one, but not quite managing it.
Take for example the work cycle. You need to build up what feels like a computer program, represented in a visual style. This adds light puzzle elements, but without the joy you get from solving a puzzle. It also changes up the style and feel, which works really well.
This part felt like it needed more of a focus, potentially having that being the part the entire game was based around. Think to how Atlus’ Catherine did that with the puzzling elements. Mosaic in comparison has too many cogs in the system.
In fact, I would have much rather seen the dull moments dragged out a little longer. Because when the game turns the narrative on its head, it doesn’t quite have the punch it needs.
It would even allow the cleverness of your phone to shine. With a simple game called ‘Blip Blop’ where you just press a button to get a high score. You can get in-app purchases to help you improve your skills. The skill of tapping a button repeatedly.
The are love apps that make certain assumptions about you. There are daily news articles that are well worth a read. Oh and regular notifications and messages that will make you feel like crap and worthless at points. This clever use of the phone works really well.
I wanted to just praise Mosaic, as I think it tries so hard to tell an interesting story. It is very clever with each individual element, but somehow just falls short of being a great game. Yet it is hard to put my finger on why. Mosaic is an interesting title, the individual elements work well, but it is missing something.
That’s just it. Each element in itself and taken out of context are superb. The surreal moments are a joy when they arrive, adding the colour to a miserable grey world. The interactions with the are a stand out and the point and click elements just work.
Mosaic tries to send a message of being a cog in the capitalist wheel and it manages to do so in the narrative remarkably well. Where Mosaic gets that right, it is great, but too much happens too soon to really sell that feeling.
It was always going to be a difficult task for developers Krillbite to follow up Among The Sleep. With Mosaic they have had a valiant effort and I can’t wait to see what they do next.