Review – Mozart Requiem
I’m all for older games being re-released to modern consoles in order to introduce them to new generations of gamers. Plenty of games have found success this way, and I applaud them for it. However, most are transparent about their product being recycled, and at least offer some graphical enhancements, new content, or quality of life improvements. Mozart Requiem is a devious little title, making no mention of it’s initial 2008 release under the name Mozart: The Conspirators of Prague, which was previously only released in France for PC. Does it offer anything new or interesting in this version? Let’s compose ourselves for an in-depth look.
Mozart Requiem takes place in Prague in 1788, where Mozart is showcasing one of his most prolific operas, Don Giovanni. During his time there, he learns of a conspiracy to de-throne the Austro-Hungarian Empereror, Joseph II. This greatly troubles Mozart, as Joseph II is his sole benefactor. While trying to unearth more clues as to who is at the heart of this diabolical plot, Mozart finds himself being accused of murder. The clock is ticking as he has to discover who is responsible for the various crimes and clear his name.
Now you might be thinking that this premise sounds intriguing. It does… on paper. In reality, it’s far less captivating. The main problem (at least as far as the story is concerned) lies in its pacing. Mozart Requiem is agonizingly dull for about the first third of the game. To put that into perspective, there are eighteen chapters, each taking at least twenty minutes or so to beat, provided you don’t get hung up on any puzzles, which you most certainly will at some point. That means the first few hours will have you bored beyond belief. After that, things do ramp up, but the storyline then becomes almost cartoonish in its absurdity.
Sometimes a game with a troubled plot can be saved if it at least has compelling gameplay. Unfortunately, Mozart Requiem lacks this as well. This is a point-and-click adventure of the worst sort. Mozart moves infuriatingly slow (not as slow as ELEA: Paradigm Shift, thankfully), and double tapping the move button only has him walk at a slightly more brisk pace.
The cursor is no less frustrating, even on the Nintendo Switch which has touchscreen support… kind of. You can technically drag items from your inventory over to various points of interest using your finger, but the interaction points are so tiny that you’ll often not be able to see them when your finger is over the correct area. I say this as a woman with tiny hands too. Then if you want to move the cursor into the general area you want to search, and want to revert to using the analog stick for more precise movements, it will just fling back to where you had the cursor previously. This means you’ll have to use the analog stick to slowly move it all the way back to the area where you had placed it with your finger only moments before. This begs the question: what’s the point of having a touchscreen interface?
Even hangups like these can be overlooked if the puzzles are engaging enough. I’m sorry to say that the puzzles in Mozart Requiem miss the mark in just about every conceivable way. Some of the puzzles are insultingly easy, like the very first “puzzle” that has you make coffee. Then there are others that fall into the dreaded “ridiculously obscure solution” territory. These are my least favorite types of point-and-click puzzles, where often times the only way you can progress is by tediously clicking on every single inventory item on every available interactable object or NPC. I can’t tell you how long I got stuck at certain points because of some absurd line of logic that made sense to the developers, but made absolutely no sense to a common player like myself.
Then there are the musical puzzles. You’d think in a game about Mozart, these would be the focal point and finely crafted. Well, you’d be wrong on both accounts. The musical puzzles are only presented as minigames occasionally sprinkled within the chapters, but honestly, I’m grateful for this. These puzzles in Mozart Requiem are awful for several reasons.
First, despite what Mozart Requiem‘s descriptions might say, a few of the puzzles do in fact require that you understand how to read music in order to comprehend what you’re doing. As someone with no musical background, these sections were often aggravating for me. At first I was able to coast through them by simply clicking on random boxes until things worked, but after a while this strategy was no longer effective. Then I had to go through the tedious task of memorizing which boxes seemed to move without penalty, while avoiding strikes that would make me restart the section all over again. I didn’t learn anything from this experience, which was no doubt in part due to the fact that the sound would cut out at the beginning of these puzzles. How can I tell if I’m getting a musical sequence correct if I can’t hear it? I’m not Beethoven.
Surprisingly, that’s not even the worst offender. There are other musical puzzles that involve you moving your conductor’s baton to follow a white sphere across mystical sheets of music. Doing so effectively will reveal parts of a cryptic cypher that’ll you’ll need to solve the conspiracy around you. However, you’ll have to keep your baton’s tip solidly within the small circle in order to gain all the clues you can. Falling outside of the circle makes your insight level restart. It sounds like a simple task, but the controls on the baton are abysmal. Mozart Requiem features no tutorial, so it took me forever and countless failures to realize that you could only increase the speed of the baton by moving both analog sticks at one time. This is the only time you’ll need to use both analog sticks, and it’s still awkward and difficult even once you’ve made this discovery.
Much like with the puzzles, you’d expect the sound design in a game centered around Mozart to be fantastic. To say that the sound design is bad is quite an understatement. Mozart Requiem has some of the worst voice acting I’ve ever heard. The strongest performances are barely mediocre, with most of them being laughably bad. Mozart himself sounds like he’s on tranquilizers and the innkeeper sounds like a jowly cartoon dog (seriously). It’s not just the voice acting that’s terrible either. The soundtrack is comprised of classical tunes, as one might expect, but the songs abruptly cut off when engaging in dialogue. Plus as I’ve already mentioned, the sound often disappears altogether when doing music based puzzles.
The visuals fare only marginally better, but that’s not saying much when the bar is already set so low. This is the only area of Mozart Requiem that can boast an improvement over its original release. Don’t get too excited though. The character models and environments look like they’ve come straight out of the PS3 era. Character animations are also incredibly stiff and awkward, almost like they’re embarrassed to be in this game. I can’t say I blame them.
Mozart Requiem is a disappointment all around. The premise seemed interesting, but it gets bogged down by exceedingly dull dialogue and horrendous pacing. The visuals are an eyesore and the sound design is atrocious. On top of that, the puzzles are of the worst variety, either being too easy, making no sense, or being somewhat broken. Add in the fact that this is basically the same game from 2008, just with the slightest of face lifts, and that makes its thirty dollar price tag almost criminal. I asked you to rock me, Amadeus, not bore me to tears. Avoid this game like the plague.
While the graphics have been updated since its original 2008 release, the character models and environments look like something from the PS3 era.
A point-and-click game of the worst sort. There are very few things to interact with and the puzzles range from insultingly simple to ridiculously outlandish, with almost no middle ground. You’ll be at a huge disadvantage if you know nothing about how to read music.
The sound design is atrocious. The voice acting is laughably bad, the soundtrack abruptly cuts off when engaging in dialogue, and the sound sometimes disappears altogether when doing music based puzzles.
Fun Factor: 1.0
The first half is agonizingly dull and the second half is cartoonishly absurd. Puzzles are either too simplistic, requires you understand how to read music, or takes huge leaps in logic to solve. Nothing about this game is enjoyable.
Final Verdict: 2.5
Mozart Requiem is available now on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Mozart Requiem was provided by the publisher.