After completing the first level, I felt that Beasts of Maravilla Island was fairly good yet not particularly memorable. But then I saw the second level. Its celestial blue-and-purple colour scheme, dotted with glowing plants and vibrant creatures, absolutely delivered on the feeling of awe and wonder that Maravilla aimed to create. For me, that environment took the game straight from ok to good, and guaranteed my interest in both finishing the game and writing a review of it.
Beasts of Maravilla Island is a third-person snapshooter where you control Marina, a wildlife photographer. Marina has grown up listening to her grandfather’s stories of Maravilla Island, a magical-seeming place where he was once shipwrecked. Now, armed with his camera and his detailed journal, she is visiting the area to see if her grandfather’s stories are true, and to share them with the world if they are true.
During the introductory custscene, Marina is on a ship to the island, and at the start of the game she mentions that she will be picked up the next day. This makes clear to players that the adventure will be fairly short, but more importantly, it sets the tone for the rest of the game by making clear upfront that Marina is not lost, abandoned, or in danger.
After landing on the shore, the first main area, the jungle, is just a short walk away. The Singing Jungle is a vibrant and tropical area filled with colourful birds, gemstone-themed beetles, and climbable vines. This area introduces the player to all of the necessary mechanics; moving, taking photos, picking up objects to solve puzzles, checking the book of stored photos, and checking the journal for clues about the creatures.
The second area, which really caught my attention, is the Glimmering River, a night-time zone with waterfalls, glowing rivers and crystal caves. Here, there is a little more interaction with the focal creature, including a charming game of fetch, plus puzzles that gently build on the ones players solved in the first level.
The final level – the Painted Plateau – contrasts with the previous two, as areas of withered grass and barren rocks suggest that trouble has come to the peaceful world. Desert-based plants and creatures like cacti, lizards, and birds of prey prevail here. Bonus points for Maravilla here for being possibly the only game I’ve ever played with spiders that aren’t scary at all.Continue reading “Review | Beasts of Maravilla Island”