Review – Mutazione (Switch)
People play games for numerous reasons. Sometimes it’s to challenge yourself mentally, sometimes it’s to feel intense competition, while other times it’s to hone your reflexes. Then there are occasions when you don’t necessarily want to overstimulate your brain and you just want to zone out with something relaxing. That’s exactly where games like Mutazione from Danish developer Die Gute Fabrik comes in handy.
Mutazione is a casual point-and-click adventure game. You play as Kai, a young girl who has been asked to come to the island of Mutazione in order to help her ailing grandfather. The isle of Mutazione is home to all sorts of lovable mutants after a disastrous meteor strike hit years prior and altered the life there. Kai’s grandfather is one of the island’s elders, who has taken it upon himself to keep the population safe. However, with him becoming ill, the island is falling into disrepair. It’s now up to Kai to learn what she has to do to keep life on the island healthy.
Most of what Kai will be instructed to do is to rebuild various gardens around the island. Each garden has its own specific biome, so only specific seeds will work in each area. Don’t worry about trying to figure out complicated ecosystems though. Mutazione is a very casual game and each seed is listed with what type of environment it needs. You’ll also learn various songs to play on your drum so can help your gardens grow faster.
It’s not all botany experiments though. During her time on the island, Kai will also be able to speak to its inhabitants. Mutazione is home to many mutants, each with their own set of problems and and secrets. This is truly where the heart of the game lies. By speaking to the villagers, you’ll learn more about who they are, what traumas they’ve experienced, as well as what has happened on this mysterious island.
It’s not a sinister plot by any means, more of a charming soap opera that you can see unfold as long a you make sure to speak to everyone regularly. Each character turned out to be a lot deeper and more complex than I was expecting, which made the game even more engaging. By the end I actually cared more about what was going on in their lives than I did about unraveling the mysteries of the gardens themselves.
Visually, Mutazione is beautiful. It features hand-drawn graphics that are both striking and simplistic. Everything almost looks as though it’s made with paper cutouts. Some of the character models can almost look a little over simplistic, such as the protagonist, Kai. However, many of the environments have a fair amount of detail to them. It’s very easy to tell things apart and there’s a great deal of beauty to the gardens once they’ve been fully grown.
There’s no voice acting, but the soundtrack is outstanding. The entire musical score is very soothing and calming. Each garden has its own particular song, each one pertaining to a specific emotion. I was surprised at how well each tune conveyed the emotion designated to it. In fact, I enjoyed the songs so much, that I found myself just sitting in my gardens and listening to them for a while.
The only minor gripe I had with the sound design was with the sound of the dialogue boxes. Whenever a characters speaks to one another, it’s done through text boxes. That’s all fine and good, but when the words appear onscreen they’re accompanied by the sound of keys typing on a keyboard. Like someone is sitting there actually texting their responses back to you. Since there’s no other sound effects in the game other than the music, this made this odd design choice stand out even more. It’s a very small complaint though, and something you’ll eventually learn to tune out.
I had an unexpectedly good time with Mutazione. I thought it was going to be more of a quirky point-and-click adventure, but it turned out to be something very different. Not that that’s a bad thing! Quite the contrary, in fact. Mutazione proved to be an unbelievably zen experience that I haven’t enjoyed since I last played Spiritfarer, which, considering how much I loved that game, is pretty high praise. There are a lot of deeper themes and metaphors throughout it. Tending to one’s garden isn’t just meant in the physical sense, but spiritually as well. If you’re looking for a feel-good casual gaming experience to shut off your brain and get lost in, give this one a try.
The hand-drawn art style is beautiful, with the characters and environments almost looking like vibrant paper cutouts.
This is a basic point-and-click adventure game with some very light puzzle aspects when it comes to creating a well designed garden.
The soundtrack is blissfully relaxing. It’s a lot better than I was expecting.
Fun Factor: 8.0
Mutazione is a laid-back, narrative driven adventure that’s more of a soap opera than anything else. The characters are well fleshed out as are the metaphors for each garden.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Mutazione is available now on Apple Arcade, PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Mutazione was provided by the publisher.