Available in Q4 2019 for Windows PC, Mac, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and iOS

Based on the brief demo I played, Mosiac has a clear goal in mind — to be the Brazil of videogames (the movie, not the country or song).

Set in a bleak, monochrome near-future world, Mosaic follows the ‘adventures’ of a generic wage slave as he’s beaten down by the world around him. The developers use every tool available to establish their protagonist as barely hanging onto the edge of functionality.

Each morning, the wage slave struggles to get out of bed in his drab, undecorated one-room apartment. Notably, he sleeps in his shirt and tie, and appears to own no other clothes, suggesting that he has no identity other than a person who trudges off to work every day, sits at a computer until he can’t take it any more, then returns home to collapse into bed where he dreams about drowning until he has to do it all over again.

Mosaic‘s Gameplay is fairly basic. Players move their avatar around his world and interact with the few items he has lying around, but that interaction is pointedly limited. His cell phone’s messenger app (which can be brought up at any time) demonstrates that he has no social life to speak of. He can load up a game on his phone, but the gameplay — tap a button to increase a number — is every bit as vacant as his life. He can even sit down and turn on the television, but because the player can’t see what’s on the screen, we find the experience as devoid of entertainment as he does.

The most intriguing question raised by Mosaic‘s demo is exactly where the blame for its protagonist’s malaise lies. He’s surrounded by a system that grinds him down for no clear purpose as the glimpse we get of his job is so abstract as to be nearly meaningless, but with imagery just sinister enough to cause apprehension. Physically, financially, and emotionally, he’s a wreck, barely able to manage to brush his teeth in the morning, let alone face the mounting pile of debt that traps him in a job that will never satisfy him.

It’s a stark and compelling opening, but in the end I was left unsatisfied because after spending a couple of days in this sad sack’s life, I still didn’t have a real sense of what the overall message was going to be. The demo closes with an interlude designed to remind players that Mosaic is set in a world where beauty cannot survive, and where all natural things are consumed to support industry — an incredibly dark place to leave things off.

So what’s next for Mosaic? Is it simply observing problems, or does it have solutions to offer? I’ll have to wait until the full game releases to find out, I guess.

Daniel Weissenberger
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