Developer: ORIGAME DIGITAL
Publisher: ORIGAME DIGITAL
Genre(s): Adventure, Simulation, First-Person, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 05.06.21
A code was provided for review purposes
Talkin bout my generation
Although the subject matter is dark, the tone is devastating, and the outlook initially bleak, I firmly believe that anyone over the age of 12 should play this game. Many will cite Animal Crossing: New Horizons as their game of the pandemic, and with 200 hours of playtime, I’d have likely done the same. However, having recently played through Umurangi Generation, it is this that will stick with me in the years that follow.
Developed and published by Origame Digital, Umurangi Generation is a first-person photography game in which you explore locations in a fictional future. A crisis has beseeched the cityscapes you encounter, and a dark and oppressive atmosphere is found within. Whilst you make your way around each location, you are given specific photo objectives to complete. These can range from the more atypical pictures of buildings and people, to the more obscure: take a photo that has 15 candles and 4 boomboxes in it.
On the surface, you take on the role of a photographer who is documenting what they see post-crisis. However, and it’s the largest however I’ve ever written, this game is about so much more. So much more.
SO. MUCH. MORE!
Umurangi is the Te Reo word for Red Sky. The significance of this is profound. Embarking on this monumental journey through Umurangi Generation and its low-poly, Jet Set Radio-inspired world will leave you questioning the government that runs it and the impact that the environment could have on our future as well as theirs. Naphtali Faulkner, the sole developer of Umurangi Generation, was inspired to create the game as a result of the Australian Bushfires in 2020. I believe this is the reason for the ‘red sky’.
I say believe because the phrase, ‘Red Sky’, has many connotations. And that is really the crux of what Umurangi Generation is all about. What Naphtali saw in Australia, and the impact of people’s actions on the world, led him to develop the game as a form of artistic expression of some serious real-world issues. The way that you interpret and understand the messaging within the game is entirely up to you, and that’s the real beauty here.
It isn’t just the deep and meaningful that deserve praise here, though. Umurangi Generation does a stellar job of introducing and developing the photography mechanic. You can move freely around the environment, jumping and crouching as you look to get the best angle for the shot. When you do, you can choose from a range of different lenses that you unlock throughout. Post-editing also exists, with you able to adjust everything from the colour balance to the saturation and hue shift. It’s quick and efficient using the sliders, and it makes developing that perfect photo to capture the mood both intuitive and fun.
Look what I profound!
What’s also impressive is the way the game actively encourages you to look beyond the obvious. You’ll want to anyway as there’s so much that can be found, however the objectives are designed in a way that ensures you find it. Taking a photo of 3 tires and 4 pallets may sound like a ridiculous objective on the surface. However, in doing so, it may point you in the direction of something much more profound. Equally, it may not, but there are so many occasions where it does that you won’t want to miss out on anything.
Each photograph you take is rated by the amount of money you receive for it. Again, it’s another incentive to capture that picture-perfect moment. It’s seamless in its design and the mechanics make for a game that you can’t help but spend time with. All of that, and that’s before we discuss sound production.
Adolf Nomura is the magician behind the music in Umurangi Generation and with every beat they seem to have captured the very essence of what the game is about. The lo-fi beats are the perfect accompaniment and they bring a level of polish to the overall game aesthetics that may not have been possible without it. Some of Nomura’s music featured in the game is from previous releases, with others being created specifically for Umurangi Generation.
Many modern titles include a Photo Mode as an optional extra that has seen players spend countless hours perfecting their shots, and I’ve spent a significant amount of time with Umurangi Generation to date. I will continue to do so, as I have been enamoured by the world that has been crafted and the hidden stories within it. I urge you to do the same. It’s games like this one that make us fall in love with gaming. It’s also games like this that remind us of what games can and will continue to be.
Umurangi Generation is incredibly unique and even more importantly, it represents so much more than just another photography game. It captures a moment in time that can be looked upon and interpreted for years to come.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can purchase Umurangi Generation on the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.