ANNO: Mutationem has always looked good, with its mix of pixelated characters and 3D environments. The question was, could it deliver an engaging experience to match that style? It sort of does, but it has a few too many rough edges.
The game is a mix of two quite different parts. There's 3D adventure gameplay, in which you control protagonist Ann as she investigates her brother's disappearance throughout various dystopian districts. During these phases, you can freely explore, talk to NPCs, and visit shops to buy and sell gear. The other half swaps to 2D action, where she trades in the ability to traverse a third axis in favour of platforming and fast-paced combat.
The storyline is suitably dark, albeit with quick injections of goofy humour, and the cyberpunk cityscape presented here is an interesting setting to explore. However, we'd say the 3D element of the game detracts from the experience; you'll often get caught on objects or in doorways just trying to get around. Combined with fixed cameras, navigating each location can be rather tedious.
Luckily, the side-scrolling combat segments are better. Some slightly stilted jumping aside, engaging enemies using light and heavy swords, as well as a pistol, is fun and fairly challenging, and gets better with each new ability unlocked from the skill tree.
There's surprising scope in the game — you can dismantle items to get materials, which you can then combine into new weapon modules. There are side missions and mini-games, like serving cocktails to earn money. It's also kind-of open world, albeit a very small one. While the ambition is admirable, overall we feel the game comes across as quite unfocused. It's an enjoyable experience, and everything here is reasonably good, but the result is a game that doesn't really shine, save for its rainy, neon-infused aesthetic.