Anno: Mutationem Review – Mini CyberPunk

When I reflect on my experience with the feisty cyberpunk brawler Anno: Mutationem, the initial thought that springs to mind is a fervent desire for a pronunciation guide to navigating that unwieldy, pseudo-Latin moniker.

However, the very next thing that resonates with me is the undeniable attitude.

From the vibrant, nostalgic visuals to the charming, formidable protagonist. This is a realm that confidently asserts its identity from the get-go. Even though the narrative woven within occasionally appears a tad disoriented.

Gameplay Review

The futuristic urban expanse of Skopp City serves as the principal stage for the majority of the action. A captivating fusion of metal and cement. Teeming with influences drawn from iconic sources like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell.

Anno: Mutationem

Each distinct district employs color, sound, and subtle environmental nuances. A craft of a rich world that exudes warmth and comfort. Despite being enshrouded in a somber history.

I reveled in my exploration of its pubs, storefronts, and hidden passages, eavesdropping on random chatter and unearthing tucked-away treasures. It may not be an entirely revolutionary backdrop – save for a sprinkling of Stranger Things-inspired eccentricity. It’s undeniably a setting I’d be more than eager to immerse myself in further.

When chaos descends upon these avenues, the fearless and adept Ann Flores stands prepared to blast. She slices and pulverizes her way through legions of ruffians, automatons, and genetic aberrations.

Combat

The combat is quick and well-timed. And in its finest moments, the design of adversaries and rhythm of skirmishes harkens back to the classic days of Mega Man.

An abundance of intriguing and formidable bosses and underlings await to be battered into submission. And the necessity to chip away at their defenses using slower, heavy strikes to unveil potent finishing moves. While inflicting damage with swifter light assaults. This adds a layer of tactical nuance beyond the simplicity of depleting a health bar.

Anno: Mutationem

My one minor gripe lies in the over-reliance on perpetually reappearing minions. This increases the difficulty in some encounters. There are numerous methods to ramp up a boss fight’s challenge, and this particular approach doesn’t quite resonate with me.

Ann’s Training

Ann’s development as a professional ass-kicker follows two distinct skill trees. Vanquishing story bosses earn currency to boost her base stats while defeating regular foes allows her to unlock new moves.

This system works exceptionally well. As it prevents excessive grinding and overpowering in any given area. Instead, acquiring a new heavy slash or enhancing the effectiveness of your parry offers a range of tools for experimentation and tailoring your combat style for more challenging encounters.

Anno: Mutationem

Much of the main narrative unfolds off the grid through extensive, diverse dungeon crawls that generate a feeling of isolation, nicely contrasting with bustling town life and side quests.

While these dungeons hint at an underlying mystery, the weak connecting motivation between them can create a sense of no clear purpose.

Locations

However, the locations you explore, from a secret lab teeming with mutant plants to a dead cyborg society, are genuinely intriguing and contribute to a rich world. The experience would benefit from a more seamless integration of these settings. Preventing it from becoming a tour with more focus on the locales than the reasons for discovering them.

The vast and vibrant array of characters embodies both the most apparent strengths and shortcomings of Anno.

Anno: Mutationem

Although the voice acting is meh, when present, it shines—particularly in Suzie Yeung’s portrayal of Ann as a self-assured, determined young woman grappling with a mysterious and harrowing past.

The dialogue writing, however, falls short in comparison. Inconsistencies between spoken lines and on-screen captions are common, and too many conversations feel like hasty exposition lacking natural flow.

Anno: Mutationem Characters, Gameplay, & Story

At times, Anno can be overwhelming with the sheer number of new characters it introduces, often through single, isolated cutscenes that only begin to make sense much later in the 20-hour narrative.

While some of the revelations are undoubtedly intriguing, and the peculiar, metaphysical twist on the cyberpunk genre is appreciated, the plot occasionally feels overly complex for its benefit.

The story attempts to juggle a multitude of characters, but many of them lack sufficient development or impact. Brief glimpses of characters like Ann’s sarcastic sister Nakamura or the brooding cowboy Raymond leave you wanting more, but they’re quickly ushered on and off the stage.

Anno: Mutationem

The one character you do spend ample time with is Ann’s best friend Ayane. And, well, as much as I adore you, girl, you can be a tad overbearing at times.

The exuberant, high-energy, unapologetically gay sidekick who accompanies you as a hologram provides a nice contrast to Ann’s more grounded demeanor, but she also brings to mind the hyper-caffeinated anime enthusiasts I knew in college, and I often found myself wishing I could ask her to dial it down a bit. To be fair, she does manage to occasionally transcend her living stereotype status with moments of genuine emotional depth.

Anno: Mutationem Verdict

Superb, dynamic side-scrolling battles against a variety of captivating foes come tantalizingly close to making Anno: Mutationem a no-brainer recommendation.

Throw in the vibrant, neon-drenched metropolis of Skopp City, oozing charm and personality at every turn, and you’ve got an irresistible package. A cumbersome storyline and subpar script reveal the one element the project could have used: a skilled editor. But don’t let that deter you – there’s still plenty to relish in all its well-executed aspects.

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