Be­come more than just a small cog in a big ma­chine in this sur­real dystopian ti­tle

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Adam Bryant

“Mo­saic seems like a wellob­served com­men­tary on how we live our lives”

Pub­lisheR Raw Fury De­vel­oper Krill­bite For­mat Xbox One ETA Sum­mer 2019

We’ve all ex­pe­ri­enced the monotony of ev­ery­day life and the dispir­it­ing daily com­mute, and think lit­tle of it. But ev­ery now and then you’ll take a step back and see what a strange and lonely rit­ual it re­ally is. De­spite so many of us un­der­tak­ing it to­gether it’s an iso­lated ex­pe­ri­ence. The ad­vent of the in­ter­net and smart phones would have peo­ple be­lieve that hu­man­ity is more con­nected than ever be­fore but in re­al­ity we’re more de­tached from each other. It’s a tes­ta­ment then to Krill­bite, de­vel­op­ers of Among The Sleep, that they’ve some­how man­aged to trans­form this dis­heart­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence into a com­pelling nar­ra­tive game.

You play a lone of­fice worker in a dark, grey, dystopian city al­most com­pletely de­void of colour where ev­ery day of your life plays out in the same way. But what hap­pens if you break out of that pat­tern? Krill­bite’s CEO Jon Cato Lorentzen demon­strates this dur­ing our hands-off demo. Our char­ac­ter leaves his apart­ment and sees ev­ery­one mov­ing in the same di­rec­tion head­ing to work. In­stead of join­ing them we go in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. As you con­tinue down this new path your en­vi­ron­ment be­gins to change. A bright blue sky leads to a small patch of na­ture with green grass and a healthy-look­ing tree. You spot a cat stuck on one of the higher branches and hold­ing out your arms you help it down. You stand there for a mo­ment stroking the cat, which it seems to en­joy very much, but af­ter a while your slice of bliss is in­ter­rupted by your em­ployer who hap­pens to have placed a track­ing de­vice on your phone and omi­nously warns you that if you don’t head in the right di­rec­tion now you’ll be late for work. So you let the cat go and head to work. Do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent and break­ing out of the sys­tem is what Mo­saic is all about and these re­ward­ing mo­ments en­cour­age you to do just that.

Money prob­lems

Your phone does more than just in­ter­rupt pe­ri­ods of joy, it can also be used to check news which adds more nar­ra­tive lay­ers. It even con­tains a game called Blip Blop. As you play the world car­ries on be­hind it, but over time the au­dio be­comes muted and the back­ground blurs. In the full game you’ll be al­lowed to make in-app pur­chases us­ing the char­ac­ters’ wages and it’s en­tirely pos­si­ble to spend all your money on it, but this will cause fur­ther prob­lems. For ex­am­ple, you won’t be able to buy a sub­way ticket in or­der to get to work, which will of course have a knock-on ef­fect.

Al­though ap­par­ently spo­radic the mu­sic will play an im­por­tant role where it’ll jux­ta­pose with what’s hap­pen­ing in the world. Among the com­posers, of which there are three, is famed Nor­we­gian jazz mu­si­cian and tenor Håkon Korn­stad who com­posed some orig­i­nal mu­sic for the game.

It’s a chal­lenge to make a game about the mun­dane, and one way in which Krill­bite do this is to add sur­real el­e­ments. The main char­ac­ter has dreams and night­mares and the things that are hap­pen­ing in real life start to blur to­gether with things that aren’t real. At one point the main char­ac­ter imag­ines him­self to be a yel­low but­ter­fly and nav­i­gates a haz­ardous ob­sta­cle course.

Mo­saic seems like a well-ob­served com­men­tary on how we live our lives and in so many small and seem­ingly in­signif­i­cant ways it tells us that the way we’re liv­ing isn’t healthy and maybe even coun­ter­in­tu­itive to our na­ture. This is one ti­tle we’re keep­ing an eye on.

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