One of the best AND worst things about being a video game reviewer is the pure quantity of games that I play. Although at times being able to play vidya for a week non-stop means that I get to enjoy the likes of the incredible SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE and Golf on Mars, at others, it means that I can spend 40 hours alternating between Company of Crime and Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town. Although this past month has been a decidedly good one for games, playing three new releases that all reminded me of what I played as a kid has made it hard to come up with novel and witty introductions for these reviews. So, seeing as I’m starting to run out of ways to say I played another game that reminds me of the ‘90s, I’ll just say it: Mutropolis is a game that reminds me of the ‘90s.
Mutropolis, like Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and the Fountain of Youth, is a decidedly fantastic 2D point-and-click adventure game. You don the archeology boots of Henry Dijon, an archeologist from Mars who is sent to investigate Earth some 5,000 years after everyone decided to book it to The Big Red because of a natural disaster. Upon arriving on our home planet, things quickly don’t go as planned, one of your team members goes missing, and you’re tasked with finding them while also uncovering an ancient civilization.
Although the game isn’t exactly War and Peace, or Per Aspera, the tale that it tells is still fun. The story never goes anywhere unexpected, but it’s this level of familiarity that makes it so enjoyable. Mutropolis was clearly written by a team that grew up playing the same games that many of us did, which means that it's often self-aware about its nature without ever going full Borderlands. The story that the game presents is an homage to the classics, and an incredibly well-written one at that, that is deeply enjoyable for anyone that’s able to legally drink. It constantly makes references to other things that only ‘90s kids will remember, but these references make sense within the context of the game, so the result is a story that’s legitimately charming and will put a smile on just about anyone’s face.
This sentiment extends to Mutropolis’ gameplay, too. At its core, it’s no different than other point-and-click games: you start each level with a set of basic tools and a problem, you click your way around the level until you find an object that will let you solve that problem, then you repeat this process a handful of hours. Although at times these items are decidedly well-hidden, and the problems themselves are ever so slightly convoluted, neither one reaches the purely moronic level of the aforementioned Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town. Instead, the puzzles simply make sense, and it’s possible, if a tad difficult, to complete the game without looking up a walkthrough, which is about as much of a compliment as a game in this genre can get.
Both the story and the gameplay are made better, too, by Mutropolis’ absolutely fantastic visuals. It takes a lot for me to care about a game’s graphics, but Mutropolis is one of the best-looking games I’ve played in the past year. It has a similar artstyle to Broken Age, which is a compliment to say the least. At times, the game legitimately looks like something that you’d expect to see in a museum of the future, and even in the moment-to-moment point-and-clicking, it just looks great.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the game’s audio, which is Mutropolis’ only real problem. Neither the music nor the voice acting is especially terrible, but given how great the rest of the game is, it’s hard not to notice the lack of strong audio. The music in the game is generally forgettable, and when characters speak, it simply doesn’t sound right. It’s safe to assume that the developers had some trouble getting voice actors during COVID-19, so it’s not entirely the game’s fault that the voicework sounds off, but it is still of note.
However, outside of this fairly minor problem, Mutropolis is an absolutely fantastic game that is a must-purchase for point-and-click fans. Although the tale it tells isn’t particularly unique, and the game’s puzzles are about as 1990s as you can possibly get, the game is self-aware about what it is and this makes it a treat for anyone who likes Harrison Ford references. When combined with the game’s superb visuals, playing Mutropolis reminded me why I spent 20-odd hours a week writing about video games instead of getting a real job.
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