In preparation for this month’s podcast, we’ve been playing Creature in the Well, Anodyne 2: Return to Dust, and this topic of this week’s review, Mutazione, an adventure indie game that’s touted as a “mutant soap opera”.
Here’s what I thought…
- Beautifully designed and realised world
- Deep, engaging story and funny subplots
- Interesting characters
- Very slow moving
- Not enough of a game
Mutazione is one of those games that I find very difficult to review. Because on the one hand, I really appreciated the fact that it’s a beautiful, relaxing interactive experience. But on the other hand there just wasn’t enough of a game in there to keep me entertained for very long.
You play as Kai who is visiting the island of ‘Mutazione’ to meet her Grandfather – the town shaman and gardener – who has fallen sick and can’t leave his bed. Mutazione is a strange place with a very odd collection of mutated people living on it, each with their own offbeat style and personality.
The gameplay itself begins with a series of fetch-quests, and then settles into a gardening simulation as you try to heal the island and raise its inhabitant’s spirits by restoring the island’s gardens. It’s not fast paced at all – deliberately. As I alluded to earlier, Mutazione feels more like an experience than a game.
You can spend time talking to the island’s inhabitants, finding out more about each of them, and catch up with island gossip, or you can choose not to and focus entirely on the main quest – which is all about restoring the island’s gardens and growing plants.
To grow plants and create gardens you must collect seeds, and as the gardens grow you can create music with the plants. Knowing what songs help certain plants grow is part of the game and can help you grow the gardens faster.
And that’s basically it. For all its charm, its quaint feel, and it’s pretty aesthetic – it really is a lovely piece of design – there’s really not much to actually do in Mutazione. Or at least, there wasn’t enough for me.
You do have various dialogue choices to pick from when you talk to the island’s inhabitant, but I felt like the dialogue choices I was making had no impact on the story, so they quickly became irrelevant to me.
Despite my criticisms – which are very personal to my gaming preferences – I do feel that the creators have done an amazing job putting it together and enriching it with fantastic dialogue, an engaging and, at times, moving story, and a wonderful setting. Mutazione is an experience. And one to be savoured. This isn’t a game to rush through, or to “complete”.
The only problem for me was it’s just not my kind of game. But it will be for so many others. So if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, you should definitely dive into it. All of the things I really appreciated about it, I’m sure fans of the genre will absolutely love.