Most have probably felt trapped in a routine before. An unhappy, unchanging rut where each day feels like the one before and tomorrow holds little hope of being any different, or better, than today. Work is repetitive drudgery in an oppressive environment and the only respite is the screen of our phones, which typically just serve to notify us of things we'd rather forget. At home we feel isolated, but even in a crowd we feel alone and unseen.
Adventure game Mosaic deftly paints that bleak picture in the brief demo I played recently, in which I moved its protagonist through a couple of nearly identical days of his life at home and commute to work. I say nearly identical because there are a few hints of hope, color, and change in those days that fight back against the gloom.
The day begins with my phone waking me up and me literally dragging my character into a sitting position in bed. Messages include a request from a friend to play a pointless phone clicker game and a cold email from work informing me my productivity isn't up to snuff. I can do a few things in my apartment, like comb my hair, straighten my tie, brush my teeth, and stare blankly at myself in the mirror. I can check my bank app to see how behind I am on my bills (very) or snap on the TV and zone out before making the painfully glum commute to work.
A slow stroll down the hall past what I imagine to be identical apartments and I'm on the elevator, standing next to my faceless fellow commuters who ignore me. In the lobby, I check my mailbox, but even though there appears to be a letter inside, my character quickly shuts the box as if he's fearful of it, or is avoiding some potentially terrible correspondence.
As grim as this all is, my character clearly wants more from life and is willing to seek it out. Anything that doesn't quite fit into this bleak world draws his attention, even a small yellow butterfly at a construction site across the street. At certain moments, a small ring of vibrant colors circle above his head, such as after petting a stray cat or looking out a window at the sunrise. There's still life in him, it just needs to be activated.
Even the small slice of Mosaic I played has me intrigued. It's gorgeous, in a miserable way. There were a few mysterious sequences, such as after I interacted with a glowing and buzzing junction box in the character's apartment building, which lead to strange, dreamlike sequences. I also briefly left the character to control that yellow butterfly as it attempted to fly through a construction site and avoid being chewed up in machinery, a pretty clear metaphor for the character's corporate treadmill.
With only a few minutes of playtime under my belt, I'm already rooting for this silent, lonely figure to find a way to break out of the world he's in. There's life out there, and color, and change, beyond the high walls and fences of this city. I hope he manages to find it.