ANNO: Mutationem Review

Anno Mutationem Header

I’d love to tell you what the storyline of ANNO: Mutationem is, but after many hours of play I honestly still have no idea. this is partly due to the plot being entirely bonkers, taking numerous sci-fi tropes and weaving them together with inconsistent effect. In the futuristic Skopp City, you’ll meet cyborgs, hack up mutated killer worms, investigate parallel universe shenanigans, and befriend holograms. Plot-wise and thematically, it’s all a bit of a confusing mess, and yet, all the confusion is part of ANNO: Mutationem’s ramshackle charm.

Even the lead character is baffling; Ann Flores manages to be both a private detective, full-time street fighting butt-kicker, and part-time bartender. She is also a daughter of a robot, best friend of a hologram, seer of visions, and afflicted by a mysterious virus. She must have quite the to-do list.

While the story of ANNO: Mutationem has no idea what it wants to be, aesthetically it has a clear and concise remit. This is a game built around a central conceit of 2D sprites in a 3D world. The end result looks glorious; charming and smoothly animated retro-infused sprites exist within a detailed and neon-soaked 3D cityscape.

Anno Mutationem 2D-3D graphics

The level of imagination in the visuals is certainly something to behold. ANNO: Mutationem’s cinematic influences are clear to see, yet it recreates them in its distinctive aesthetic with compelling style. The environments prove a delight to explore and I found myself returning to previously explored sections just to bask in all the 2D/3D pixelated Blade Runner Manga glory.

The gameplay of ANNO: Mutationem also ticks all the boxes. Exploring central hubs you’ll engage in all the usual RPG and open world activities; finding side-quests, trading items, and levelling up your stats. It’s all competently handled, though the missions themselves rarely escape the fetch quest trope. Still, it’s fun and frivolous stuff, simultaneously elevated and undermined by the unintentionally hilarious dialogue which varies in quality from so bad it’s good, to so bad it’s just bad.

Anno Mutationem Combat

It is in its combat that ANNO: Mutationem truly shines though, as these are some punchy and engaging fisticuffs. Combat shifts the game from 3D to a side-scrolling battler, with Ann having at her disposal a range of light and heavy attacks. Ann proves easy to control, and her rapid and responsive strikes are satisfying to deliver. Enemies can be launched, juggled, and sent crashing to the ground with glee. These sections also see Ann engage in some pretty basic but eminently playable platforming. Taken on their own these mechanics are nothing special, but meshed together and incorporated into the neon vibes of ANNO: Mutationem’s visuals and you are left with a hugely enjoyable experience.

Since launch, the game has now been updated with a New Game + mode as well as new difficulty levels at both the easiest and hardest end of the scale.

Summary
ANNO: Mutationem’s sublime blending of 2D and 3D visuals is a delight to behold and a joy to experience. Fast-paced combat and competent RPG systems all deliver so, as long as you can accept the incomprehensible plot and naff dialogue, there’s a lot to enjoy.
Good
  • The 2D and 3D visual blend works wonderfully
  • Side-scrolling combat is chunky and fun
  • Reasonable RPG elements and platforming round off the package
Bad
  • Story is a bit of a mess
  • The dialogue varies from good-bad to simply bad-bad.
7