Can love even flourish on a cyberpunk battlefield? Anno Mutationem says yes. Image: ThinkingStars
I was immediately taken with Anno: Mutationem’s sleek side-scrolling pixel art and explosive, beat ’em up-inspired action sequences. However, even those notable highlights pale in comparison to its wondrous portrayal of Ayane, one of the game’s supporting characters, who morphs from a mere NPC into the emotional line of the entire game.
You play as Ann Flores, a cyber-combat specialist in search of her kidnapped brother. Although she is more than capable of holding her own in a fight, she does not work alone. Next to him (via digital projection) is the super-genius, talkative hacker Ayane Misuno. While Ann’s relationship with Ayane is hinted at even in the demo, in the full game the hacker’s adoration for Ann bubbles up in side missions and boss fights. To my surprise, the bond between Ann and Ayane is an essential part of Mutationem’s story, and it is arguably its most captivating facet.
Their story begins when Ayane sends Ann a communication droid to mark their second anniversary of friendship, just like you do. As the droid’s gameplay goal allows Ann to call Ayane for her hacking expertise, Ayane drops all pretenses, telling Ann that her fancy mail-order droid serves as her means of being. closer. Always be my beating heart. Whether in the heat of battle or in the middle of a shower, Ayane has Ann’s back! And sometimes border issues.
Because Ann is a kuudere protagonist, meaning she’s kind of strong and quiet, it’s up to Ayane to not only inject life into the game with offhand remarks about the bizarre world they inhabit, but also to crack the stoic shell. of Ann, making her more attractive protagonist of the process. This is epitomized by the couple’s cute animations and stellar vocal performances from their English voice actors. Every time scenes of Ann and Ayane popped up on my screen, my eyes sent my brain a searing dose of dopamine. Their funny/cute dynamic, sometimes reminiscent of classic comedy duos, could generate enough energy to power a small town.
I would like to take a moment to congratulate myself for calling the ship between these two from the moment I saw them interact for the first time in the demo. While I was only half joking when I mumbled “Oh they’re gay”, I didn’t think ThinkingStars would hint at their canon status in the actual game. I’ll have to check my house for hidden mics…
The pair’s dialogue thickens it. Ayane rarely calls Ann by name, instead opting for “sweetie”, usually accompanied by hearts floating above her head. Ann gives in to the pet name when Ayane asks if she prefers to be called “Baby”, “Honey”, or “Lover”, proving that she has a preference. 👀
Ayane, the paragon that she is, goes beyond being your “wife in the chair.” She also serves as Ann’s emotional support sidekick. Whenever a quest-giver NPC asks Ann for a favor, Ayane takes on the player’s frustrated voice. While Ann reluctantly accepts the missions, Ayane fights for her, absently calling out the NPCs’ selfish requests. If Ann didn’t want pickles on her burger, you better believe Ayane would raise hell. Whenever the going got tough in Mutationem, Ayane rushed in like a cool summer breeze and gave the game some welcome levity.
Harold, they’re lesbians. Screenshot: ThinkingStars/Kotaku
No matter how many times Mutationem kicked my ass, I kept coming back. This dedication wasn’t just based on my journalistic duty to finish the game, or even on my wounded pride. No, I persevered just to hear Ayane’s celebratory banter. When conquests in Mutationem ceased to be rewarding, Ayane’s words of encouragement revived my tired gamer bones and made the pain of replaying extremely frustrating boss fights more bearable.
Ayane doesn’t just shine during Mutationem’s main story: her charisma is so strong that it spilled over into side quests, spurring me on to characters I wouldn’t otherwise care about. For example, I put the brakes on Ann’s quest to save her kidnapped brother when we passed a street concert and Ayane mentioned that she would like to know the secret identity of a virtual idol.
I know this makes me sound heartless, but hear me out. Everything I know of Ann’s brother comes from a handful of random, archived codices and voice recordings. Ayane, on the other hand, went to war alongside me. She made my journey through Anno: Mutationem’s cyberpunk dystopia an ongoing delight, simply by the sheer force of her charisma. No hard feelings for Ann’s brother, but Ayane is built differently, and when I’m on the mean streets of Anno: Mutationem, her needs come first. Try the game yourself and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
Article source https://kotaku.com/anno-mutationem-ayane-thinkingstars-cyberpunk-romance-1848715452