There’s a certain surrealism to the monotony of everyday life, as the modern world throws us all into a daily cycle that repeats seemingly without end. It’s a theme that has been explored numerous times before across media, with Fight Club, The Office, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty being just a few examples. Mosaic is kind of a blend of them all, with a yearning to escape the grind, and lashings of Fight Club’s tale of trying to bring down the system.
Developed by Krillbite Studio, best known for Among The Sleep, Mosaic drop players into the role of a nameless man living in a rather grey and drab world. The weather is always overcast, people actively avoid interacting with him, he has a monotonous job, and each day blends into one. He’s withdrawn from everything going on around him and it appears that loneliness seeps into every part of his life. Then a talking goldfish turns up in his sink.
Each morning you get up and have the choice to slap yourself in the face or to turn off your phone alarm. You can check your phone for messages, with most of them about work, and play the endless clicker BlipBlop – this has actually been released separately so you can play it in real life as well. You get up, you go to the bathroom, you straighten yourself up, brush your teeth, talk to the goldfish, then either put the goldfish in your pocket or flush it down the toilet. You leave the apartment, and you’re faced seemingly small choices, to either join the stream of people heading to work, keeping your head down, or go against the flow and carry out little acts of rebellion against the monotony.
Every time something or someone begins to pierce the veil of monotony, a colourful circle appears above the man’s head, inviting you to engage and interact, seeming to lift the man’s spirits just a little bit. Doing so makes him late for work though, and he’ll get a warning, but the message of Mosaic seems to be that life is about enjoying the small moments. Music is one of the main things that manage to seep into his world, the rhythms that musicians project embedding themselves and manifesting as tools to solve the puzzles, or act as hindrances in other cases.
Much of Mosaic is spent walking through increasingly surreal scenes that look to point out the absurdity of the working day that many people will be familiar with. The simple environmental puzzles use these situations and have you walking about and changing perspectives as you navigate them. Once at work, you also have to perform the main task of feeding resources to the Milestone, which consists of creating paths for little squares to get from the bottom to the top. In some cases, threats appear which need to be quarantined for you to be able to continue.
The majority of puzzles ran smoothly, but there was one that bugged out on me, where the character could not move forward despite the way ahead being clear. Another glitch was when threats in the job puzzle were not being quarantined even when fully suppressed, which lead to constant attacks. In both cases, reloading Mosaic resolved the issues.
The world of Mosaic exudes this sense of bleak conformity. Everyone dresses the same, everyone drives the same kind of car, everyone seems to work in the same place, have the same phone, do the same thing. It is basically a dystopian nightmare where everyone is tracked all of the time. It’s 1984 with smartphones. No wonder our main character pushes back and looks for a way out, even if he is being guided by a talking goldfish.
Is Mosaic making some new, unique commentary? Not really. There are plenty of examples where people question or attempt to break out from the boring every day. The art style, while eye-catching, can also be found in other games. Does Mosaic repeat the message we’ve seen before in a unique and interesting way? Yes, it does. There’s something about it that draws you in. Mosaic is very much about its narrative and delivering it through watching the scenes.