ANNO: Mutationem had a lot of potential when it was first released back in March 2022. It was an action-adventure game that shifted between 2D combo-driven combat/platforming and 3D exploration. On top of a pastiche of cyberpunk influences that ranged from film to anime, there was a lot to like.
Regretfully, at launch, it was not without some snarling issues that held it back from truly being exceptional. In our initial review, ANNO: Mutationem‘s gameplay failed to impress. The combat was stiff, controls felt delayed and there were egregious issues with the hit detection.
A lot of time has passed since ANNO: Mutationem came out and the developers took feedback from gamers. Hoping to smooth out the overall experience and expand the user base, the devs also ported ANNO to Nintendo Switch. Just how much improvement has happened and how well does the Switch run ANNO: Mutationem?
ANNO: Mutationem‘s visuals aspired to chunky PlayStation aesthetics. Back on the PlayStation 5, this made the visuals very crisp looking and have sharp edges. The art mixed in some modern techniques like the use of bloom and reflective wet surfaces on transparent material.
Never let it be said that ANNO: Mutationem wasn’t peak cyberpunk in its art direction. It’s such a stylish-looking game and is dense with details like the various adverts and world-building elements. On Nintendo Switch, the image quality took a hit and in a way, the roughness only increases the authenticity of the PlayStation ethos.
The sharp polygon edges on the geometry appear more rugged and jagged now. This was closer to how actual PlayStation games were because of the low-resolution output of the console. Some gamers may be put off by this, but to be true to a cyberpunk dystopia; you must embrace the haggardness of low-fi specs.
As expected, the 2D character sprites are the same as they were on PlayStation 5. They appear slightly softer than they used to but while playing in portable mode, there is almost no discernable difference. The animation quality is the same, but the frame rate is nowhere near as stable.
There was never any doubt that ANNO: Mutationem would run a locked 60 frames per second on PlayStation 5. On Nintendo Switch, it is more variable. Sadly, the fluidity is a bit more wild during some parts of the game where the post-processing effects stress the hardware. It is still perfectly playable, but it is something that gamers will notice.
The unstable frame rate and rougher graphics are the least of ANNO: Mutationem‘s problems. Generally, the port is excellent- it is only the load times that are a bit much to swallow. Ann will frequently travel between areas or fast travel. This usually comes with a load screen and even when the loading bar is full, it isn’t- typically lasting a few more seconds.
ANNO: Mutationem is an action-adventure game with a driving mystery behind it. The lengthy load times kill the excitement when doing extensive searches and backtracks. If the resolution had to be lower for a faster load time, it would have been preferred.
The real meat of ANNO: Mutationem‘s improvements are done to the gameplay. Combat and balance are especially more refined than they used to be when they launched. This was a major concern while playing it back then because when not exploring around in 3D, Ann will be fighting and platforming in 2D.
The 2D gameplay felt stiff and unresponsive. Ann’s cancellation was delayed and hit-boxes were unfair. Some bosses in their later phases would unleash very large and devastating attacks. Originally, Ann would get hit if she was too close- not connecting, but close.
Since the many updates, ANNO: Mutationem is a much better experience now. All of what the developers have learned has been implemented into the Nintendo Switch conversion. From the start, Ann’s movement feels snappier and players can get much closer to danger without being unrealistically hit.
Some issues with ANNO: Mutationem‘s gameplay are unfortunately tied to its foundation or the developers were unable to come up with a viable solution. There is still a very cryptic side-quest that requires an insane leap of logic- so much so that the developers had to explain how to complete it, on their social media.
New additions are the various difficulty modes. ANNO: Mutationem could be a pretty spicy action game at times, so less skilled players can enjoy a more casual experience with the new easy mode. The “Hell” mode lives up to its name and returning players will find Ann will have no hope of success. Not the best mode to play on Switch, due to the increased load times.
ANNO: Mutationem is in a much better place now than it was when it came out. Even on Nintendo Switch, where it has drawbacks, it’s a smoother game to play now. In the initial review, ANNO was rated 5/10, but in its current state, it is confidently a 7/10.
ANNO: Mutationem was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review code provided by Lightning Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. ANNO: Mutationem is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.