In the time of a crisis, a leader is needed. Our conventional pop culture has led us to believe that they have to be strong, forceful, or display far superior intelligence in comparison to ordinary people. For the citizens of Mutazione; despite a meteor strike, body mutation, and a history of tragedy; the leader that arose to the occasion was Manii.
Manii, who Yoke describes as: “Not loud or overbearing, but when she spoke, you listened. She never liked to tell. Only invites us to think, and work together.”
Despite the fact that Manii passed away a long time ago, the spirit of Manii still feels alive. Partly because many members of the small town have fond memories of her. The game makes it feel as if Manii’s philosophy is implemented into every aspect of it.
What exactly is Mutazione?
Mutazione is an adventure, interactive fiction game where you play as Kai, a young teenage girl who lives in an ordinary city, has received a letter from Mori, who informs her the news that her grandpa Nonno is dying, and he needs help from Kai. But as the story goes on, despite Nonno being a very significant person, everyone is equally important. If one piece becomes missing, the entire village would become dysfunctional.
The village of Mutazione, funny enough, has a lot of missing pieces, and everyone holds their negative feelings within, not wanting to burden the friends close to them.
Oh and by the way, the Papu tree, the very source of life on the island, is dying.
What can Kai, an ordinary teenage girl do? How can she understand the psychological pain of romance and loss, or the scientific knowledge to revive the environment?
Mutazione, despite all the problems, does not need a savior. There are no complicated puzzles or grandiose life or death choices to make. You simply walk around, listen to others, and occasionally get commanded to build some gardens. It’s plain and ordinary, yet it never ceases to be mildly interesting.
What do I love about it?
What I love the most about the game is the feelings of freedom. Which is weird considering that Mutazione has a linear narrative structure. Like Manii, the former leader of Mutazione, the game does not have a strong presence of command. Most modern games have a user interface that specifically tells the player to click on X spot at situation Y. While it can be helpful to a lot of new players, it can also feel like an invasive and robotic way to learn.
In Mutazione, I am given a map, an encyclopedia, and a diary of Kai’s thoughts, which comes in handy when arriving at wrong places and getting confused. Oddly enough, this makes me feel as if I am Kai, arriving at the village for the first time.
Typically, the “non-important” characters in this portion of the game are either NPCs who give you generic answers of “talk to me later” or conveniently shut off from the game. But in Mutazione, you can have a full conversation with every single character at all stages of the game, and it makes me feel that every character is genuinely alive.
I spent nearly half of my playtime doing “unnecessary” things of just chatting with Mutazione buddies when I do not have to, which allowed me to better understand everyone in the village and the kinds of struggle they go through.
What can I expect to get from this?
A core theme throughout are the “moods,” that can be experienced in the game as well. Sang by the flowers; happiness, sadness, hopefulness, anticipation, nervousness can all be felt throughout.
Yet, they never feel overly forced by unnecessary plot conveniences. It feels as if all the characters are just authentically talking as themselves all the time, which feels natural.
The soundtrack also does a fine job of making the conversations feel natural. Sometimes, the characters can get emotional, but there are no sudden changes in music to make these moments shine. While there is plenty of variety in BGM, they stay soothing and calm for the most part. It is as if these dramas are just normal parts of their livelihood, which in reflection, ours as well.
While Mutazione citizens are experiencing changes of scenery, I am as well. Growing up in cities can be a lonely and cold experience, something I can relate to. Despite living in a community of millions, it is difficult to be a part of an authentic community that genuinely cares about one another. Mutazione is an alternative to the child parent relationship that we took for granted, a community where everyone is responsible for caring for the child. It is an outdated and impractical practice, yet warm and intriguing to see.
My Final Thoughts.
Overall, much like Manii herself, Mutazione is not overbearing, it is not forceful in its approach of narrative design and it invites us to be curious and listen to everyone else. It is a quiet and meditative experience from the beginning to the end, yet never ceases to be mildly amusing.
You can play Mutazione on Steam here.
Don’t forget to check out more reviews of the large library of indie games, right here on Indie Ranger.
Mutazione sets you, Kai, off on an adventure. Navigating through small town life, talking with the locals and working to keep the balance.
- Peaceful vibes throughout the game
- The characters feel authentic to talk to
- Polished art, soundtrack, and animation
- Strong narrative design
- None. But Mutazione is like a game that tastes like a cup of tea, and not everyone likes tea.