You wake up, you get yourself ready, you head to work, you come home to sleep, and you repeat. It’s a routine that I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with, but hey, that’s life. We normally play video games to escape this, but Mosaic is actually built around that level of monotony where you live out this almost ‘normal’ existence where work seems to completely take over your life, bar those few special moments of happiness where you don’t have a care in the world.
It’s an interesting concept and one that does make for a unique gameplay experience – whether or not it’s one that everyone will want to be a part of is another thing altogether though…
Mosaic sees you take on the role of a young man who lives a drab life where he wakes up, goes to work, comes home, and then repeats the cycle. He’s not given a name either, which just goes to show that the game recognises how meaningless his existence is… cold. However, it’s within the little changes that you make to his daily routine that he can find purpose and, to some degree, a brief sense of happiness.
It might not sound like it makes for the most appealing of gameplay experiences, but it’s all you really get to do in Mosaic. You do take control of each simple task though, whether that’s waking the protagonist up (with a slap of the face if you like), making him brush his teeth, having him check his phone to see his overdue bills, or even sit and watch TV as you try to procrastinate your way towards starting your day. It’s all meaningless stuff that just takes a few button presses to perform, but hey, it’s what you’ve got to do.
However, throughout these moments of bleak monotony, you’ll occasionally see slight sparks of colour and the opportunity to veer from the norm to do SOMETHING a little different. These might be simple things such as listening to music on the streets, helping a cat down from a tree, or even talking to a goldfish, but they all go a long way in transforming your life and giving you an almost Walter Mitty-like experience where the world around you changes and just feels that little bit brighter. Of course, it always seems to be followed up by adhering to your typical daily routine, but at least you’d have that one moment in the day that made you smile.
A lot of your actions in the game are presented by a few simple button presses, but there are a few mini-games and puzzles thrown into the mix too – your job sees you guiding hexagons through an ever-expanding grid for example, whilst you’ll even take part in weirder instances such as when you shrink to a smaller size and have to avoid the everyday bustle of people and their now giant feet. It sounds really weird writing it down, but in-game it just seems to work. You’ll also get to make small choices as to how you proceed through each day, but they’re mostly insignificant and don’t change too much – I’ll leave them for the player to discover themselves though, especially since Mosaic can be beaten in a couple of hours.
Mosaic is a weird game and it won’t be for everyone. The gameplay itself can be as monotonous as the concept it’s trying to present, whilst the mini-games you encounter are pretty weird too – it can also feel like not a whole lot of progress is actually taking place, with the cycle of daily routine rarely changing. However, there is a story that’s being told here and it may hit a little closer to home with some people as to how life itself can start to feel like a repetitive chore, but that you’ve got to make the most of the little moments that feel a bit more special. Mosaic does have plenty of those ‘little moments’ to encounter, and yes, they do change the game up a fair bit. It won’t be enough for everyone, but there really is something uniquely satisfying to be played here.
Visually, expect plenty of black and white in Mosaic, but in a stylish way that manages to look really attractive in-game. It doesn’t try to go all out with detail, but it’s in its simpler visual style that it manages to set the tone of monotony perfectly. That being said, it is always nice to see the colours hit during the more jovial scenes throughout the story, especially since they bring the world to life a little bit more.
I should probably mention that there can be a few frame rate issues though, particularly when you move between locations in the game (although they can pop up during busy sequences too). I didn’t encounter anything that ruined the game for me, but seeing some events play out with a slight stutter was a bit disappointing.
Mosaic is a game about monotony, for better or worse. It gives an insight into the realities of how dull life’s daily routine can be, but also that you should appreciate the finer moments. And believe me, some of Mosaic’s finer moments can be pretty special and full of charm.
Having the patience to see it through is another thing altogether though, and I can guarantee the game won’t be for everyone. It has a few performance issues on the Nintendo Switch too, which is a bit of a shame – even if it isn’t anything game-breaking.
If you’ve got some patience and want to play a game that feels distinct, unique, and in many ways, real, you really should give Mosaic a try. If you play video games to escape the overbearing sense of monotony though, you’ll want to steer clear…
Publisher: Raw Fury
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC