Have you ever wanted to take care of a garden? In Mutazione, you can do just that, cultivating a community and reviving a village after years of slow decay and drift. While they may look strange and have strange habits, the mutants and humans of Mutazione feel real, with real concerns, desires, and dreams. They’ve experienced loss and joy, sorrow and wanderlust, and through the game’s audio and character design, Mutazione draws players into their world.
1 - Visuals
Mutazione makes strong use of colors and color palettes to create its gardens and townspeople, with different areas gently transitioning to different palettes, affecting the apparent ‘moods’ of each of these areas. With clean, borderless shapes, the game lends itself to a paper cut-out effect, and I for one really enjoyed it. With a host of strange, mutant characters, the game does a good job of ‘other’-ing their cast while still endearing the player to them. They’re mutants, and that’s ok. The use of bright colors and dynamic scenes and environments make it interesting to explore again and again, wondering what may be around each corner.
For colorful, well-done visuals, Mutazione gets 4.5 stars.
2 - Audio
As I mentioned in my article on the 7 Gardens update, the main musical element of this game can be found in the gardening sections. With music dependent on player choice and plants, it can be really interesting to experiment with different combinations of plants and sounds, as each seedling is associated with a mood and an instrument. And it’s amazing from a musical perspective just how well all these somewhat-discordant sounds can still come together to make something pleasing, or at least interesting, to sit and vibe with.
If there’s any one downside, it would have to be that nothing particularly stands out from an audio standpoint. Each area has its musical tones and tunes, but none really stuck with me when I stepped away. It was all just… nice, but if you played some music outside of context of the game, I would be hard-pressed to remember where it came from.
Because of this, Audio gets 4 stars.
3 - Story/Progression
The main draw for Mutazione is its story and the interactions of the characters with both each other and their environment. There’s a reason Mutazione advertises itself as a “mutant soap opera,” as the gameplay that isn’t spent tending to gardens is spent talking to townspeople, unveiling their small-town gossip and drama. Everyone has a secret and a past that they hold dear and close to their heart, for better or for worse. As always, communication is key, and Kai (the main character) soon becomes the motivation towards change and growth for the community.
It’s done quite well, in my opinion. We don’t learn everything, but we get the shapes of events, enough to build a solid idea, and empathize with these characters. Life isn’t straightforward and easy. We struggle, and come through in the end.
For a sweet, well-done story, Mutazione gets the full 5 stars.
4 - Gameplay
With simple games comes simple gameplay. Point-and-click is straightforward, as is using WASD to navigate between areas (the game supports both modes of play) and there’s no noteworthy bugs or issues with movement. The gardening aspects are fairly self-explanatory, and the game is forgiving in its tutorial-ness, giving key plants or tools when they are needed and not making players wander too far afield to figure out what they need to do next. My only complaint, if any, is the character feels a little slow, but perhaps I just need to slow down myself and smell the flowers.
For solid gameplay with no major issues, 4 stars.
5 - Context
Mutazione was released on September 19th, 2019 by developer Die Gute Fabrik and publisher Akupara games in conjunction with the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and has been widely lauded by players ever since. Even now, a year after its release, the Steam page boasts an overwhelmingly positive review score, with only 10 negative reviews out of 230+ total reviews. If I could highlight one:
“There’s a bit of dialogue at the beginning of the game that I feel describes the tone of this game very well:
‘I’ve never seen someone die before.’
‘I’ve never died before! It’ll be an adventure for both of us.’
Beautiful, melancholy, hopeful, and very real. A game about tending to gardens and tending to people. I love the imaginative world of Mutazione and I love its inhabitants and I highly recommend this game to everyone; it’s stunning.” – Steam user paimona.
It’s a fairly quiet community, but a sweet one. 4.5 stars.
It’s nice to take a break sometimes to care for each other as flowers in a garden. Mutazione does just this, with memorable visuals and gardens of color and sound and a bittersweet story with which to vibe. Life isn’t perfect, and the best we can do is try to help each other out however we can. If you’re a fan of short-ish story games, gardening, or the supernatural, I’d strongly recommend checking out this game.