ANNO: Mutationem Review
Neon-laced cyberpunk worlds have become more prominent in the medium over the past few years. Dystopian and totalitarian universes, where technology imbues humanity is a premise that beckons many. ANNO: Mutationem combines these alluring themes with a unique art style in a futuristic, hybrid adventure, but will this amalgamation be a noteworthy hack?
Set in a dystopian future, you take control of Ann Flores, a young bartender who is on a personal quest to find her brother. Straying away from conventions, Thinking Stars restricts the narrative to create a layer of bewilderment. As a result, you are drip-fed information to untangle the many threads of the narrative. Scattered through the stunning environment are a variety of interesting characters that offer insight into the universe and the overarching story. While it’s a little dialogue-heavy and lacks cinematic flair, it does enough to give purpose to your adventure.
A Punk Perspective
ANNO: Mutationem fuses 3D exploration with 2D action. Seamlessly, you switch between these formats which helps to diversify the experience. At its core, the game is a side-scrolling adventure and it excels in this area. Combat is fluid as you can effortlessly switch between light and heavy strikes to annihilate enemies. As you progress, you will gradually learn more combos and be able to vary your onslaught with a range of weapons. Defeating enemies will grant you two forms of currency that you can spend on stat increases and other upgrades. To further your options to decimate, you also have access to firearms so you can attack from a distance. However, due to limited ammo, you cannot simply cower away and shoot from afar.
Enemies range from explosive monsters to ariel-based beasts. To overcome these, you will need to make use of the dodge mechanic to ensure your safety. As a creature strikes, a visual cue appears so you can time your evasion. Even though rolling through attacks gives a moment of invulnerability, this is not at the expense of difficulty. Often you’ll encounter numerous foes at once, making you herd characters and use the environment in order to achieve success against seemingly insurmountable odds. Bosses are large and offer a suitable challenge. You will need to learn their attack pattern and counter accordingly in order to be victorious.
An Open and Closed Case
In open areas, you can speak to residents and embark on smaller quests that will have you darting around the city. Movement in these sections can be a little awkward as it is difficult to discern the placement of obstacles. Different parts of the city are accessible by visiting your vehicle. Doing this opens your map to show you the location of missions and your progress with side missions in the area. These additional tasks vary and can have you mixing drinks in a fun bartender mini-game and conversing with the many inhabitants to develop a deeper understanding of the universe.
Thinking Stars has created a stunning world that melds retro and modern design. Environments are stylish with vibrant colors that juxtapose with the bleak surroundings. While certain areas house more linear sections, 3D areas vary. Some include Metroidvania-esque interconnected levels and others have a myriad of pockets for you to explore. There are a number of interactable objects dotted throughout that help with the world-building of ANNO: Mutationem. Even though the narrative is a little lackluster, the beautiful environments will make you want to see what lurks around each corner.
In your journey, you will collect all manner of items that you can use to craft, modify and upgrade equipment. As health items are a necessity, you will need to ensure you have a stock of these at all times. Luckily, you can purchase these along with numerous boosts from stores and characters who are placed throughout.
ANNO: Mutationem is an audacious title that successfully merges genres. While the 3D segments aren’t as tight as its 2D counterpart, the originality shines through making this a fresh adventure. The gorgeous environment is full of character and is a joy to inhabit. However, the delivery of the narrative lacks the nuances to fully immerse. With its solid action gameplay and exciting bosses, fans of the genre will have a blast in this futuristic, cyberpunk escapade.
*** A PlayStation 5 key provided by the publisher ***
- Stunning Visuals
- Tight 2D Segments
- Strong Combat
- 3D Movement Is a Little Awkward
- Delivery of the Narrative
- Text Heavy