For a lot of folks this summer, travel just isn’t in the cards. Maybe you’re choosing caution in light of two completely separate pandemics going around. Maybe it’s the high cost of gas and, well, everything else. Maybe it’s just that it’s too damn hot this summer to leave the sanctuary of your air conditioned house. Any way you look at it, this might be the perfect time for a virtual vacation!
I really can’t recall playing any photography-focused games prior to last year’s New Pokémon Snap, which I bought for the Nintendo Switch and then absolutely devoured. Since then, I’ve been hunting down puzzle adventure games with a strong focus on taking pictures. Maybe one of them (or all of them) might strike your fancy and allow you to take a little virtual safari this summer.
It only took me a little under six hours to complete Alekon to my satisfaction when it released last August, but every minute of that was absolutely delightful. Explore biomes to photograph adorable critters, called Fictions, and welcome them into Dream’s Doorstep, where they will present you with quests and minigames. Initially, you’ll be confined to a set path through these areas, but it won’t be long until you unlock the ability to free-roam. All of the pieces of this game just fit perfectly for me, and the art style and humor really polishes up the whole experience.
Beasts of Maravilla Island will whisk you away to a magical place, full of fantastic creatures. You’ll fill your photo journal with pictures of the flora and fauna, and solve puzzles to get those extra special shots. It’s a compact experience, easily finishable in less time than it takes to watch a movie, but the beauty and positive message of the game will likely stay with you long after you set sail for home.
This is one of the games I played this year for the #JustOnePercent project, and you can read my full review here: Game Over: Beasts of Maravilla Island
Penko Park is the photography collectathon game for those among us who might be existing in summer, but are dreaming of Halloween. This one is three parts cute to one part creepy as you explore an abandoned wildlife park, and photograph and interact with the things that have been left behind. Your photo journal will guide you towards things you may have missed, and there’s quite a few achievements to be gained along the way.
I know that cats are the current kings of the video gaming world right now, but Pupperazzi caters to the dog lovers. Solve puzzles, take photos, and dress up dogs in adorable costumes. Take a break from your career and the pressures of social media to play with a variety of dogs. This one is also currently part of XBox Game Pass for PC.
If you prefer your photography games to lean heavily into puzzle solving, Toem: A Photo Adventure might be the best choice for you. The inhabitants of this quirky black and white world need your help. Take pictures to solve problems, and don’t forget to focus on all the little details along the way.