2021 is looking to be a strong year for point-and-click adventures. With so many scheduled releases from genre heavyweights and brand new developers alike, there’s a whole new world of adventures out there for players to sink their teeth into. One of the first to welcome us into this brave new world is Mutropolis from new developer Pirita Studios and publisher Application Systems Heidelberg, a name becoming more and more well known in the point-and-click adventure community.
Mutropolis is a colourful, hand-drawn point-and-click adventure game set in the very distant future. It is the year 5000. Humans now inhabit a completely colonised Mars and Earth is now a wild and inhospitable place. All Earth’s greatest achievements are now ancient history, picked over only by archaeologists and academics.
You control Henry Dijon, one of a ragtag group of archaeologists who left Mars to uncover these ancient treasures and legends. While on an expedition to find evidence of the lost city of Mutropolis, Henry’s professor is kidnapped, and things take a decided turn for the weird. It’s up to Henry and his team to rescue the professor, explore the ruins of our civilisation and find out just what on earth (or Mars) is going on here!
It would be a crime to go into this review without going into the visuals first. The hand-drawn scenes are nothing short of whimsical, a lovely mix of soft lines, bold shapes and vibrant colour palettes; Beyond Eyes meets Broken Age meets Adventure Time. The animation too is slick and defined — every character has distinct movements and little mannerisms that pop up every now and again. Fun and mirth simply radiate from these visuals and perfectly matches the overall tone of the game. If the Grumpy Cat loading screen fails to give you even a modicum of joy, you have a heart of stone!
Hatman, Jones Hatman
Puzzles in Mutropolis are what the developers describe as “archaeological puzzles with a sci-fi twist”. While some can be solved by conventional items, others require a more futuristic solution. Need to make a cup of tea? Use a kettle, right? Wrong. This is the year 5000, remember. Most appliances we use now are objects of myth, so a new futuristic gizmo is needed instead. A big part of Mutrupolis’s charm is the jovial and humorous approach to our everyday items, and recognisable figures — Indiana Jones is ‘Jones Hatman’, a sheriff badge is a deadly shuriken. However, like many classic point-and-clicks, there are a few moon logic instances which can be a little irritating and bring the energy down a touch.
While still keeping with most point-and-click traditions, Mutropolis has some other notable changes, the main one being not including a right-click. Point-and-click aficionados will know the right click as a way to simply look at items without using them and sometimes obtain more information. All interactions in Mutropolis are assigned to the left click, with Henry giving a short explanation before or while interacting with something.
Henry also, of course, has an inventory for storing and combining items, but with an eye icon which can examine an item if you drag it over to it. It’s certainly a different approach and fine on paper, but it soon becomes problematic in practice thanks to a small but recurring flaw.
A good amount of speech in the game goes by very quickly with barely a gap between each character’s lines — a niggle on its own as some of the comedic timing of the dialogue gets lost — and some dialogue is not repeated. This is also sometimes the case with Henry explaining non-inventory items to the player, which means if you miss Henry’s description of one for whatever reason, you’ll lose vital information about that item and won’t know what it’s for.
A particular item in Act II brought the game almost to a grinding halt for me and all the while I was thinking “What the deuce is this thing for? Where’s the right-click when I need it?!” It’s an unintentionally unfair punishment for missing a description, and I can see this being a bugbear even for veteran point-and-clickers.
Nevertheless, I do encourage players to give it a go and stick with it. Mutropolis shows tons of promise and is undeniably funny and charming. Beautiful to look at with an interesting story and likeable characters, point-and-click fans will find lots to enjoy here. It’s a strong debut from Pirita Studios, a definite step in the right direction and hopefully a sign of good things to come.