We’re all stuck on this planet together, hurtling through space, grinding away daily at thankless jobs until our inevitable demise. This sort of existential dread has become old hat for me, unfortunately, and something we probably all end up coping with at some point in our lives—if we can cope with it at all. And that’s what Mosaic is—it’s a journey about someone trying to cope with that day-in, day-out grind, suffering through a depression that turns your world grey. It’s important to explore these topics, and works of art like Mosaic can work as a strategy guide to get past the grey, and find the color in our lives.
Mosaic by developer Krillbite encapsulates the doldrums of the daily grind. You play as a male protagonist, stuck in the endless cycle of wake, work, sleep, repeat. Your relationships are floundering, evidenced by texts that go ignored as your character is stuck in an endless cycle of suffering. Work isn’t going so well for him either, as constant texts from his job remind him of imminent contract termination if he continues to arrive late, and there is further admonition that his is not performing to the standards of his peers. Your character just doesn’t measure up. His peers are impeccably dressed (while your character struggles for neatness) and they openly shun him. So it’s not surprising when you start to see talking goldfish, and are subjected to a whole slew of striking, surreal imagery.
The surreal imagery is probably one of the strongest things Mosaic has going for it. It’s a sight to behold, and something that would sit comfortably in an art gallery—video game or otherwise. As your character wakes, and struggles in his day-to-day routine there are a series of what can best be described as vignettes. Each of these represent this person’s mental health struggles in different ways. And that’s what Mosaic is, really–a statement on mental health. Unfortunately, it ends up feeling about as bleak and tedious as the scenes it is depicting.
Mosaic is just no fun. I mean, it doesn’t really have to be FUN, but it’s also extremely tedious to play. There isn’t really much of a game, really. You move from point A to point B, experience the vignette, and move on. Sometimes parts that are unimportant flash by in a cutscene to say, “hey, life is SO MONOTONOUS” and, well, Mosaic is a bit monotonous itself. I even got a little bored guessing what the next crazy thing to come along would be.
Most of Mosaic is set against the backdrop of an uncaring city that is choked by a mega corporation, which you work for. The entire message is supposed to be how this person breaks free from their daily grind, to find their passion, etc. But ironically, the sections where you work were the most fun parts of the game. Your day job is a simple minigame that’s based on resource allocation, and it would make an excellent phone game with its mechanics fleshed out a bit. But most of the rest of Mosaic is slowly walking, and looking for the right place to click on.
Usually, video games are important because of their interactivity. Mosaic feels so linear, I think it may have been served better as a short film. Its message on mental health is important, but it emulates the tedium of the daily grind a little too closely, and I found myself immensely relieved when the credits rolled. I have enough real life existential dread, thank you. I’d really like to play that corporate minigame more, though.
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