“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” – David Attenborough
Beasts of Maravilla Island is a 3D adventure game in which players take on the role of a young wildlife photographer exploring Maravilla’s magical ecosystems to discover extraordinary creatures, learn their behaviors, and, most importantly, photograph their majesty.
Developer: Banana Bird Studio
Released: 12th June 2021
Price: £7.19 – £7.99
This game was reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective Showcase.
A very casual and relaxing experience overall, Beasts of Maravilla Island takes players on a linear journey through a range of magical environments such as the singing jungle or the glimmering river. The main goal is to find and photograph the various flora and fauna in each area. A journal, left to the protagonist Marina by her Grandpa provides guidance on what to look for.
The journal details how many of each species (birds, bugs, plants etc) are available to find and logs the player’s progress. It also includes notes from Grandpa about each area’s primary creature, which needs to be photographed doing each of its 4 documented behaviours. These photographs sometimes require the player to solve simple puzzles in order to obtain them. The puzzles are not challenging but do provide an extra layer of interaction and provide a further sense of purpose for the player.
The game incudes other nice details such as a photobook where players can revisit and peruse the photos they have taken and the ability to whistle to the various critters and creatures!
Narrative and Styling
Beasts of Maravilla Island follows Marina as she steps off of a boat and onto the island. Her grandpa has passed and she must continue his work of documenting all the wildlife in each area. Equipped with her journal, a camera and a sense of wonder, she begins to explore the fantastical environments.
The game has a relatively low poly, simple 3D art style, but what it lacks in detail, it makes up for with colour! The luscious natural environments are reactive and vibrant with a kind of ethereal sparkle that really helps the visuals to pop.
The music is quite minimal and subtle, staying mostly in the background. The sound changes slightly between zones, for example, the singing jungle features gentle drumming and wooden instruments, but the overall feel remains consistent. The ambient nature sound effects, such as birds chirping and crickets really help to bring the environments to life and feel more immersive.
Beasts of Maravilla Island is a casual and relaxing game that applies zero pressure to the player. Despite being very much on the rails, it maintains an exploratory feel throughout its various landscapes. It gives specific objectives that provide direction and purpose as well as small puzzles that add an element of mild challenge but there are no time restrictions and players can wander freely along the path, taking the time to really enjoy the process. Its simple but colourful art style matches the game well, creating some magical visuals and the audio elements positively impact the immersion levels.
Overall, this is a lovely game that is not only worth playing but also worth taking time over to make the most of the relaxing and fulfilling experience.
For another relaxing and exploratory game, why not check out:
Wanderlust: Travel Stories: Explore the world from your desk!
Or for more serious photography antics maybe try:
Brukel – The Personal History of a WWII Survivor