Mutazione | PC | Die Gute Fabrik | Release: Late 2019
15-year old Kai is tasked with journeying to a remote island where her sickly grandfather has seen better days. She’s nervous, courtesy of vicious rumors about the mutants who live there, but decides to put her estranged grandparent first and sets sail alongside a wacky ship captain who affectionately nicknames her Sea Crumb. You’ll soon realize that the rumors about mutants living on the island prove to be true, though they’ve been grossly distorted. The whole premise of Mutazione comes from Fallout 3, creative director Nils Deneken tells me. Deneken was upset about having a house in a village infested by Super Mutants with whom he couldn’t form any meaningful relationships–all he could do was shoot them in the head.
That’s why the mutants in Mutazione are different. They’re outcasts, and they’re feared by those too sheepish to visit the island, but as you gradually adjust to life in what Deneken describes as a “mutant soap opera,” you’ll discover that they are deeply, irrefutably human. Mutazione is a narrative-driven game first and foremost, and splits into two separate, equally emotional strands. On one side, you’re forging a relationship with a grandfather you never knew. On the other, you’re learning about the lives of these curious mutants, and sharing something truly special with them.
The main thing you do in Mutazione, aside from conversing with mutants, is plant seeds. Harvesting them after they’ve bloomed nets you all sorts of peculiar things, of which the island’s residents have a plethora of uses for. In exchange for reaping what you’ve sown, they’ll teach you songs, which you compose by planting other seeds with similar properties next to one another. Some seeds might germinate into melancholy, whereas others eventuate in tracks closer to euphoria. Deneken says that the aim is to provide people with a simple game that rewards them with ambient music, which can be left on in the background as they go about their day. It’s an ode to a sweeter, gentler style of play.
This bleeds into the other aspects of Mutazione, which are stripped back in every imaginable way. The art is minimalist and raw, but boasts style in its subtlety. The dialogue is plain, which makes its lowkey wit quietly affecting. And as you play through its eight chapters, you’ll be treated to a sincerely composed, decade-in-the-making story that Deneken says will hit people right in the feels. | Cian Maher