Game Over – Beasts of Maravilla Island (#JustOnePercent 50/100)

Developer: Banana Bird Studios, LLC
Release Date: June 12, 2021
MSRP: $9.99

I don’t remember where I heard about the Kickstarter for Beasts of Maravilla Island, but I’ve always been a sucker for photography games, and with a $5 tier that included a digital copy of the game, it seemed like a no brainer. Then, I did what I usually do with Kickstarters – I proceeded to basically forget all about it until I received my key, which I activated, and then forgot about it all over again.

… this is why my library is so out of control, I’m pretty sure.

You play as Marina Montez, who has decided to follow in her late grandfather’s footsteps and visit Maravilla Island to explore and document the creatures living there. The story doesn’t quite hold together under any kind of scrutiny – at the beginning, your character seems to almost not believe that the island even exists, despite having with her a journal that documents her grandfather’s visits. But the player isn’t kept in suspense long, you arrive on the island and start your quest to photograph all the flora and fauna.

There are three distinct biomes on Maravilla Island, each with unique plants and animals to photograph, including one “special” animal in each biome. Your tasked with taking specific behavioral photos of each of the special animals, as well as any photograph of all of the critters and plants. Missing these won’t impede your progress; the game is very much on-rails, and it is only a handful of light puzzling sections that keep you from rushing immediately to the final biome and the end of the game.

Without a strong story, or challenging gameplay, what’s left for Beasts of Maravilla Island is a gorgeous artstyle (although I found the second biome to be a little hard on the eyes after a bit), and some pretty adorable creatures to photograph. While I found it charming, and appreciated its conservation-focused message, it shouldn’t take more than a couple hours to get through even for completionists, and I don’t feel any strong pull to go back to it. I enjoyed my time with it, but am unlikely to return.

SteamDB estimates that Beasts of Maravilla Island has sold between 4,800 and 13,300 copies. With only a handful of negative reviews, it seems like most people enjoyed their time on this magical island. It is ranked 753 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

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