GamingReview: Mutropolis

Review: Mutropolis

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Anyone who played computer games in the 90s will remember the surge of point-and-click adventure titles that preceded the millennium. Over time the game genre has largely diminished from new titles, which rely instead on the vastly improved interactivity and graphics possible with modern processing speeds, but there are still plenty of people who remember those old games fondly. If you happen to be one of them, you should definitely give Mutropolis a try.

This game is a brilliant return to a once-dead genre, and if you want to spend a few hours getting lost in a funny, colourful, low-stakes adventure, then this one is well worth the price of entry.

The story follows an archaeologist from Mars called Henry as he searches for the lost city of Mutropolis on the now-long-abandoned Earth. Along the way he’s joined by a handful of other members of his team and – inexplicably – the mysterious Egyptian goddess Isis, collecting items and solving puzzles in a desperate bid to save his boss Totel and stop a world-ending plot.

As with all point-and-click adventures, players interact with the game by clicking on things of note in the world around them to collect items, speak with people, or make observations on the things you can see. In terms of mechanics, Mutropolis could not be simpler, which is why it is so important that it gets everything else right and, in my opinion, it really does. First off, the artwork for this game is glorious. Colourful and bright, each scene feels like a painting, and it is a joy to spend time scouring every room for clues or items that might bring you closer to your goal.

The story has likewise been brilliantly refined and, while the general plot is reasonably predictable, the individual characters you meet along the way keep things interesting. In particular, it’s important to note that Mutropolis is funny; there are a lot of solid jokes, backed up by some excellent comedic timing from the voice actors, and I found myself laughing much more than I expected from such a relatively simple game. A lot of the references will play well to a Millennial audience, but that’s in no way a barrier for entry.

One aspect of Mutropolis that seems to have been carried over from its 90s predecessors that I could personally have done without is a number of non-intuitive puzzle solutions that can bring the whole game to a standstill. Anyone who is familiar with old point-and-click adventure games will remember the frustration of running up against a puzzle that doesn’t seem to have any logical solution, meaning that, in the absence of the internet since this is the 90s, players would have to randomly try to combine items in the hopes of stumbling on the solution.

In today’s modern world, the ability to dig out a full guide to all of Mutropolis’ puzzles online is tantalisingly easy, but it’s not really in the spirit of the game. However, even if you commit to avoiding any online assistance and rely wholly on your own wits, some of Mutropolis’ puzzles go beyond being an interesting challenge and into the realms of utterly baffling. In those cases, if you don’t seek outside help, you may find yourself falling back into that pattern of just clicking everything to see what works. It’s an effective strategy for sure, but it doesn’t make for the most enticing gameplay.

The solution here does not necessarily have to be changing the puzzles themselves; rather, having a built-in mechanism that you could turn to when you are genuinely stuck would have been a tremendous help. As it is, unless a bit of character dialogue happens to give you a nudge in the right direction, there’s nothing to help you out when you’re clearly struggling.

Despite these puzzles, however – and I should stress they are relatively few in number – the vast majority of this game is a pleasingly challenging adventure, with plenty of story to keep pushing you along and many laugh-out-loud jokes. Mutropolis isn’t a long game, so it’s not a massive time investment, but if you like solving puzzles, make sure to give it a try.

SUMMARY

A fun, challenging, beautiful return to point-and-click adventure games.

+ Gorgeous artwork
+ Engaging story and characters
+ Good humour
- Some obscure puzzle solutions
- Slow walking speed can get frustrating

(Reviewed on PC.)

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