Genre: Adventure, Point and Click
System: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam (Windows, macOS & Linux)
Developers | Publishers: Pirita Studio | Application Systems Heidelberg
Age Rating: US Teen | EU 3+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £17.99 | EU €19,99
Release Date: August 18th, 2022
Review code used, with many thanks to Application Systems Heidelberg.
One of my first adventure games was Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Along with Indy Jones movies, the game made me a lover of the point-and-click genre and a fan of the hatted archaeologist. I spent my childhood playing point-and-clicks and digging up the garden when no one looked (when my father found out, he was livid).
So what a pleasure to play Mutropolis, which takes inspiration from the past. It’s a comedy point-and-click, set 3,000 years in the future. A team of Mars-dwelling archaeologists are on an expedition to Earth, long abandoned since a cataclysm.
Archaeology of the Future
The writing is just great. The characters are likeable, believable, and brought to life by good voice-acting. You play Dr Henry Dijon (a play of words on Dr Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr.), who reminds me of Monkey Island‘s young Guybrush Threepwood: lanky and innocent. Armed with your trusty trowel, which your teammates make fun of as antiquated, you mount a search that’s much more dangerous than anyone expected.
Above all, Mutropolis is funny. Not the slapstick kind, though. It’s an almost adult sort of comedy, but I don’t mean the censor-worthy sort. Here’s an example: The Earth of our time is so far removed from Dijon’s era that his people often get things wrong about Earth’s “relics”. A sheriff’s badge is now thought to be a shuriken. It’s a humorous take on how we easily misunderstand other cultures.
An urgent sense of mission drives the story, and I love that archaeology isn’t incidental to it. Archaeology is a major theme that runs throughout the game, even if it doesn’t go into archaeological techniques, terms, or theories. Thanks to this well-executed theme, Mutropolis is an original spin on what might otherwise be a simple, ordinary plot.
Mysteries of the Past
The puzzles are tough, man. Tough! I consulted a walkthrough well over 10 times. Without a walkthrough, I’m sure the game would have taken 10 to 15 hours instead of only several hours.
Although solutions were rarely obscure and mostly made sense in hindsight, I still struggled often. You have to pay close attention to what Dijon and others say. Mutropolis takes an extra dose of thinking and doesn’t encourage brute-forcing your way through trial and error.
One little section where I could have used more guidance involved a robot in Act 3. I still enjoyed that segment, though, because it was really cute and funny. But if I’d had no access to a walkthrough, I might have been stuck there for an hour plus.
I don’t think the game needs a dedicated hint system, but it would be helpful to have a clear checklist or reminder of the current main objective. I played Mutropolis during a sleep-deprived, busy week and occasionally forgot where I left off.
A Modern Desire for Speed
Mutropolis’s art style is wonderfully cheery. It’s a really pretty game. Character animations do feel a tad slow, though. Often there’s a painfully long pause in dialogue as characters gesture and posture. The dialogue itself is succinct, but I would love a button for skipping entire conversations.
I used a mix of Joy-Con and touchscreen controls. The touchscreen works better for moving Dijon around but isn’t smooth for dragging items out of the inventory menu. Sometimes I couldn’t pick up inventory items on the first tap; other times, trying to exit the menu made me drop the item instead.
Lastly, there was a bug where I could not see myself for nearly all of Act 3. While this didn’t hamper progress in the game, it marred the playing experience. I would click somewhere and have to wait for what felt like longer than usual since I couldn’t see Dijon walking. That was a bummer since Act 3 was pretty long. Thankfully, Dijon still appeared in cutscenes.
If you’re a point-and-click adventure fan, I wholeheartedly recommend it despite niggles about animation speed and a bug where the main character disappears from view. For the writing alone, I’m giving this a solid “I Like It A Lot” rating.
Note: The issue mentioned in this review where the protagonist disappeared and appears later has been fixed with an update as of 18th August at 16:00 CET.