Mutropolis – Review

In Mutropolis, we conduct future archeology, rescue a professor, and meddle with Egyptian gods. What have we unearthed? Here’s what we think.

There’s a lot of fun to be had in imagining how future archeologists will perceive us, and all the inaccuracies they will deduce from what we leave behind. Mutropolis draws the bulk of its humour from this innocent wondering, and thankfully, it’s a joke that keeps on giving.

Mutropolis indie game screenshot

Mutropolis is set in the far future, in which the Earth has become untamed and inhospitable, and where civilisation has come to thrive on Mars. Henry Dijon, our Threepwood-esque hero, is an archeologist working to unearth treasures from Earth’s past. Early in the game, Henry’s team discovers a vital clue to ‘Mutropolis’ – a long-lost city that’s considered to be a myth by some, but ardently believed in by Henry’s mentor and boss, Totel. Just as this discovery is made, however, Totel is abducted by an unknown entity. As Henry and his colleagues work towards finding and rescuing Totel, they are drawn into intrigue, adventure, and even the the politics of the ancient Egyptian pantheon. The whole Egyptian-gods angle is just as whimsical as it sounds when I write about it here, but it grows on you a little.

Mutropolis indie game screenshot

Mutropolis’ story is divided into three acts. The brief first act serves as an appetizer and tutorial. It familiarises you with the gameplay elements (which are fairly simple even by point-and-click standards), and introduces you to the cast. Apart from the resourceful and inquisitive Henry, you’re also introduced to his mates Luc, Micro, Carlata, Cobra, and the leader of the expedition, Totel himself. They form a likeable bunch all in all. It also helps that the first act is mostly social, so you get up to speed with each of their personalities and quirks while solving the mystery of a missing trowel and a blocked doorway.

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This strong set-up hits a stumbling block in the second act, however. Here, Henry must prepare for the expedition to rescue Totel, but the game spends an undue amount of time having you walk around the university campus solving puzzles instead. It’s a tiresome middle section that feels like putting the brakes on a rollicking adventure story.

Mutropolis indie game screenshot

Thankfully, charm goes a long way for Mutropolis. The characters are easy to like, and most of the game’s jokes do stick. The visual art has a style that’s particularly breezy and illustrative, and the background music makes for a perfectly relaxing time that’s well-suited to curling up with a blankie and a cup of hot cocoa. It’s a good thing the game presents this comfy, easy-going aura, because the puzzles in this game are anything but easy. Following the tradition of 90s adventure games, Mutropolis revels in obtuse puzzles that frequently require thinking out-of-the-box and making lengthy leaps of logic. There’s plenty of backtracking to be done here, too—another reason to be grateful that the game is pleasant to experience and has quick-movement conveniences in the gameplay.

Mutropolis indie game screenshot

In the latter two acts of the game, you are expected to repeatedly visit areas, talk to characters multiple times, and apply new information to solve puzzles.

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There were plenty of a-ha moments in my playthrough, which you might consider the mark of a good point-and-clicker. However, Mutropolis is also a little stingy on the hints. Talking to characters will remind you of your objectives, but when it comes to figuring out which of Jimmy Hoffa’s remains is inauthentic, or recreating an ancient face from just its skull, you’re on your own. And then, it turns out the game’s characters do have a clue or a solution. You just had to figure out that you need to talk to them now, with the new information you obtained elsewhere.

Obtuse puzzles with copious backtracking make this a game that’s best recommended to those fans of point-and-click adventures who revel in sitting with a game for hours and days, with the patience to experiment, repeatedly explore the same areas and characters again and again, and make bizarre logical connections. For those of us who are in for a fun story, Mutropolis unfortunately loses its attraction in the second act. If you make it to the third act, in which Henry’s team searches for Totel in the wild, you’ll find the puzzles turn even stranger. Cutting a vine in one area seemingly dislodges an item many miles away, even though there is no logical connection or precedent to this. The game might pass it off as absurdist humour, but the joke, it would seem, is on you, the player.

Mutropolis indie game screenshot

My final impression of Mutropolis remains mixed. It’s cute, with a great cast of characters, it’s certainly very charming to look at, and it maintains a very comfortable ambience. All of this is only accessible to you, however, if you can stomach old-school point-and-click puzzling. Its niche appeal makes this game one for the fans of the genre, but I’m sure that in the future, video game archeologists will be digging this one up and upholding it as a hidden gem of a time long past.

Developer: Pirita Studio
Country of Origin: Spain
Publisher: Application Systems Heidelberg
Release Date: February 18, 2021 (PC, Mac, Linux)

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

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Mutropolis is cute, with a great cast of characters, it’s certainly very charming to look at, and it maintains a very comfortable ambience. All of this is only accessible to you, however, if you can stomach old-school point-and-click puzzling.

This Article was written by: Rahul Shirke

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