We are Kai, a girl who must travel to a mysterious island full of mutants to visit her grandfather. There, knowing strangers, but family members of this unique community, you will learn that appearances are deceiving. In this Mutazione analysis, we tell you what this new narrative adventure really is.
There are not many stories about customs that approach video games. Perhaps this is why he surprised Night in the Woods a few years ago with a formula that eliminated mechanics to focus exclusively on the narrative aspect. Mutazione , like the work of Infinite Fall, wants to explore how far you can get on this land with an implicit story, of those who return us to the almost rural tranquility of a town where everyone knows each other, only that their locals, on this occasion, they are mutants.
Actually, it doesn’t matter if they are, or if the world we know has gone to the baton. Perhaps Die Gute Fabrik has chosen this strange post-apocalyptic future, but as much or more peaceful than ours, precisely to show us that there is a certain universality in his message. Through our passage through Mutazione, which is what is called this island inhabited by strange fauna and flora and those who saw their genetics altered, we experience in the background a return to the roots of the human being. The inhabitants of the island have varied aspects whose physiology is mixed with that of animals, plants or others less known, but it is precisely this contrast that makes it more obvious that they are people like us, with the same problems, fears, hopes, and insecurities. Probably, each of the players who approach him will have a different experience, and that is, in essence, because of the universal character he mentioned before. For me, the way in which these dynamics are created between the characters, which form a small community in which everyone knows what happens to everyone, inevitably reminds me of my people.
The melody of the garden
When they talk about their way of exchanging goods without money, by means of barter in which each one contributes, they are capable, their simple dialogues take me to those moments when someone brought us food or olive wood simply because my father gave them I fixed the computers. The meetings in the light of a bonfire, the problems caused by an individual or the emotional messes between the inhabitants that are impossible to hide … There is something unique in seeing that simplicity portrayed in a video game, especially since sometimes it seems that the half tries too hard to feel complex and, however complex, to be taken more seriously. But they are with these types of customary situations, in which we are allowed to meet a group of strange beings, rare as themselves and at the same time with which it is easy to identify, where lies the true nature of Mutazione. One that, like me, takes me to the nostalgia of my own people, each player can take him to a completely different place.
Then there are the gardens, which come to compose the most mechanical part of the work, with a series of seven environments to care for and make flourish through a score of magical melodies that accelerate the growth of the mutated flora. We can choose which seeds to plant and what they look like in each garden, but we will always have to meet a requirement for them to bloom properly. Perhaps the weakest part of the video game, because beyond creating a system to plant the seeds that you have been collecting throughout the island, does not seek to go further. The amount of plants that we can collect is very numerous and varied, divided into several classes and, in theory, with different properties.
It seeks to get out of the everyday
However, perhaps because the game seeks to take you by the hand at all times, it does not seem that the secondary conversations that happen throughout our week allow us to use any of these special properties, beyond the main goal. I think that relating these cultivation mechanics with the characters’ own stories through secondary missions would have achieved better cohesion and a better justification of their video game status, to balance their strengths. Without this deepening of the garden system, beyond what it seems, a graphic adventure, the result is more like a visual novel in the third person.
Despite what for each one evokes the small situations that Mutazione offers, that I am convinced that there lies the mystery of the work, there is also an explicit, more traditional story that hides the mystery of the island, which is to find out along the way. One that leads our protagonist Kai to leave the comfort of his home to visit his grandfather, who has fallen ill. Remember almost that premise of Stardew Valley, which under the pretext of fulfilling your grandfather’s wishes, makes you leave the hyperconnected world to get in touch with a quieter one where things move more slowly. Since the island has unique properties and its inhabitants are a product of the mutation, the natural is always mixed with the rare and also with the mystical. And also with the comic.
This is Mutazione, one of those games with which it is difficult to make any kind of formal criticism, because it seeks, precisely, to get out of the everyday. I do not want to encourage, therefore, anyone who does not like narrative experiments that even try to give it a try. But if you are one of those who have no problem sitting at the keyboard or in command with a dose of tranquility and reading patience, you may discover in the process a world that, at least, you are not accustomed to seeing embodied in this medium. Maybe I’ll talk to you about certain things in your own life, like me, or maybe I will leave you completely indifferent. But that’s what always happens when you navigate to the strange and the unknown.
Mutazione has been a great trip, which manages to penetrate the spectator thanks to demonstrating that even in the most inhospitable corner of the world, an island populated by mutants, you can find the most human stories. It is an atypical work in the medium, customary, and dedicated to those interested exclusively in the narrative experience, who seek other ways of interpreting the medium.
- Characters that get you interested in their lives.
- An imaginative story that handles its themes with subtlety. It has a mystery to solve, but it is the road that creeps.
- The gardens could have taken more advantage to introduce secondary plots.
- Some indications may not be clear, causing us to get lost a little.