Mosaic – Review

In Mosaic, we experience corporate drudgery day-in and day-out. All in all, did we become another brick in the wall? Here’s what we think.

The world of Mosaic is a dreary, soulless one. Everyone looks more or less the same, dressed in their corporate best, endlessly walking and walking to work. It’s a depressing world, hollow and devoid of colour. And for some reason, the most fun part about it is actually working.

Mosaic is set over five days of the protagonist’s dreadfully boring life. He wakes up each morning according to his phone alarm, brushes his teeth, and sets off to work. Each day explores slightly more of his morning commute. Each day, he is also exposed to a flash of colour, a little something that shows him that maybe there’s more to life than this.

A deliberately slow-paced experience, Mosaic reflects its character’s state by having you walk tiredly and sluggishly. A particularly brilliant stroke of commentary is that the game has a dedicated ‘phone’ button tucked in the corner. The only interactivity the protagonist is offered once outside of his home, is to either walk, or walk while looking at his phone.

Mosaic screenshot

The phone has a few apps. No, you don’t get to actually call anyone—why would you do something like that? Instead, you can read nagging messages from your workplace warning you about your imminent termination. You can also play a game called BlipBlop that’s all about tapping a whole lot to increment a meaningless number. A bit later, you can also try the dating scene, which is a spoof played well enough that I don’t want to spoil it.

Each day ends with a ‘work’ mini-game. This plays out as something of a very lite city-builder-ish game, in which you construct extractors and nodes over a hex grid, building upwards so as to reach the giant logo of your company at the top of the screen.

This, unfortunately, is the best part of the game. It’s slick UI, fast blips, and high interactivity (Finally! Actions beyond holding down the walk button!) make it a more fulfilling activity than anything else in the game.

On the flipside, the most grating parts of the game involved breaking out of the capitalist structure you are trapped in. I was soured on these brief and mild puzzles when one puzzle stopped me from completing it due to an invisible wall. It got cleared up after reloading the game, but not before spending a long time trying to figure out a solution.

Thinking about Mosaic in retrospect makes me wonder if this odd dichotomy was intentional or not. For our beaten-down, cog-in-the-machine protagonist, work may finally give him a measure of independence. However vapid, it gives him a sense that he’s making decisions, acting on them, and achieving something. Meanwhile, breaking out of the corporate machine he is trapped in—that is difficult. It goes against his conditioning. It hurts.

But is it worth it? Mosaic builds up incredible vistas of corporate dystopia, and its reductive spoofs are incisive in their message. At the same time, its eventual (and predictable) resolution feels less liberating and more token. Its narrative rings hollow beneath the surface, coming across more as disillusioned folk rock than as an exploratory commentary on why the modern world is the way it is, and what can be done about it.

I find that a much more concise, yet effective commentary was made exactly 10 years ago, in Molleindustria’s Flash game “Every day the same dream”, where the skills required to beat the game do correspond to the skills you would need to break down the corporate dystopia.

The striking visuals of Mosaic do a great job in their condemnation of the modern, capitalist life. It’s a game of strong images, ones that will stick in your mind. Beyond those images, though, it’s a bit vague in its solution. To steal words from a well-circulated Will Smith meme, the game’s a little confused, but it’s got the spirit.

Developer: Krillbite Studio
Country of Origin: Norway
Publisher: Raw Fury
Release Date: 5th December (PC, Mac, Linux); Already out on Apple Arcade

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This review of Mosaic is based on a copy provided by the publisher. The PC version of the game was played for this review.

Check out more reviews from Into Indie Games!

This Article was written by: Rahul Shirke

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