Mosaic PC Review

Mosaic paints all its scenes with great care and, while it might be a slow burner, it’s as cerebral as it is emotional and tells an enthralling story.

By Woozie, Posted 05 Dec 2019

Mosaic’s world is one of expressionless stares and obedience, of predominantly dark colors and rectangular shapes. Uniformity reigns on hallways, as you move past mailboxes and outside, where the straight lines of concrete buildings tower above you. Unbridled capitalism runs rampant, declaring street performers parasites to be expunged and treating humans as disposable cogs in its gargantuan machine. The males and females in the game have one model each – which ends up later ironically driving the point of a Tinder-like dating app home –  and the protagonist, although not all that different from them in behavior and lack of expression, stands out because of his white shirt.

You navigate Mosaic’s urban setting entirely using the mouse, holding it to have the nameless protagonist move in any direction and clicking points of interest when they pop up. Mosaic focuses on observation, telling its story and doling out silent criticism entirely through visual means. It’s not a gameplay-intensive experience, even when the job-related puzzles kick in at the end of each day. Once you make your way over to your desk, you’re tasked with reaching a daily milestone only described through a series of numbers. You do so by constructing resource extractors and building up thin structures from hexagonal shapes until you reach that day’s threshold. Itself a sterile black-and-white affair, you occasionally direct your black dots to overwhelm invading blobs of color, neatly tucking it inside one of the many hexagons that end up building up your structure, or around inaccessible areas symbolizing laws and regulations. Once you reach the top, you’re briefly congratulated and routinely sent on your way home.

Mosaic, PC, Review, Screenshot

What exactly you’re working towards, you can’t quite tell. It’s all inscrutable to mere workers. For the company you’re a number, just like your milestone is a number, like the countless other milestones that employees work towards and those that’ll replace them tomorrow. The one constant in Mosaic, aside from your waking up ritual, is the company’s eternal desire for more resources. Job stability depends on getting there on time – be late enough times and your contract opens of for termination – and productivity – you’ll always compete against a Dan that’s 34% more productive than you are – which become motivators for the protagonist’s journey that’s powerful enough to warrant not spoiling here.

The game’s dark atmosphere derives from the surgical nature of its city. The sight of a massive bridge filled to the brim with lined-up cars driving towards a skyscraper-covered portion of the metropolis in the distance drives the point home: you’re not the only one that’s a cog in these massive machines that deliver apps to find love for people with no time for it or any sort of real connection; and Mosaic paces these reveals excellently. Each day fast-forwards through the already experienced portions of your journey towards the workplace, revealing a new one set in a different area of the city. In doing this, Mosaic manages to transmit the feeling of monotony without being monotonous itself.

Mosaic, PC, Review, Screenshot

By now you’re likely wondering if Mosaic is just this, a showcase of a self-contained vision of capitalism running rampant. It’s not and that’s where the surrealism kicks in. The reason why the protagonist has issues with getting to work on time could be because of poor sleep and migraines, but more realistically, it’s because of the distractions that each day presents. Whether it’s the promise of natural sunlight piercing through an artificially-illuminated hallway, a talking goldfish or the distant tune of a double bass player, Mosaic sprinkles these small-yet-significant events on the side of the road towards work. They’re all neatly done from a visual standpoint as well, the expressive floods of colors and surreal imagery demanding attention.

Mosaic’s surreal portions often took me by surprise given how seamlessly they meld into the character’s routine. A dead-paced walk towards work suddenly sees your character relegated to the background as you control, through the same means, a yellow butterfly that’s diligently navigating a construction site, its bright yellow wings contrasting the dark blue and white of machinery and dust. Its mesmerizing journey is soon cut short and you’re jolted back to controlling your character which feels slightly more like a carcass. Another day sees you suddenly taking on the proportions of a flea and risking being stepped on by your peers as they keep their hurried pace while heading to work.

Mosaic, Screenshot, PC, Review

Multiple detours present themselves on your way to work – in expected fashion, your company promptly texts you letting you know that being late is anything but encouraged – and pursuing each of them completes Mosaic’s story puzzle. Even under the pressure of having a negative balance in the protagonist’s bank account and overdue invoices piling up on the kitchen table, I still went ahead and investigated every strange light or piece of scenery that seemed to break away from the usual monotony of the city.

Mosaic’s point may become obvious before its final reveal which, itself, isn’t free of predictability and a sense of being slightly cliché. However, the means through which it gets there, the power of the established routine, the depressing revelations of medication meant to push workers to maximum productivity while disregarding their actual health, and the often surprising perspectives its surreal bits throw you into more than make up for it. It’s a harrowing yet also enchanting four-hour journey through a world where in spite of the number of people physically close to one another, isolation is the status quo. Mosaic paints all its scenes with great care and, while it might be a slow burner, it’s as cerebral as it is emotional and tells an enthralling story.

Bogdan Robert,
Senior Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Mosaic

86/100

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Raw Fury
Developer(s): Krillbite Studio
Genres: Adventure
Themes: Narrative, Modern
Release Date: 2019-12-05

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