As we grow, the illusion of magic and fantasy fades. What we once believed becomes a dream and the sensibilities of adult life take over. But for those people who dare to dream, their lives can be fulfilled with true happiness. The sights that they see and the feelings they experience are out of this world and unimaginable. Beasts of Maravilla Island captures this perfectly with its touching but short story.
Developed by Banana Bird Studios and published by Whitethorn Games, this is a 3D adventure game with a magical twist. You’ll experience a surreal and heartwarming story as you explore the unchartered mythical island of Maravilla.
Beasts of Maravilla Island leaves you feeling warm and cosy.
I rarely connect with a game emotionally, but Beasts of Maravilla Island left me feeling warm and cosy. The touching story has you controlling a young wildlife photographer who wants to walk in her late grandfather’s shoes. Armed with his journal, camera, and love of animals, she returns to the island of Maravilla, believing it to be nothing more than a dream.
She quickly discovers that this secret land is full of mystery and wonderment. To fulfil her grandfather’s wishes, she must capture images of the animals that live in this place. By doing this, she will prove to the world that this wonderful island exists.
Seeing the world through the lens of a camera.
The world you explore combines part open-world, part linear approach in order to progress the story. The freedom to explore is limited by natural obstacles. The areas that are open to you must be looked at through the lens of your camera. Here you capture the images to fill the empty pages of your journal. Take selfies, close-ups, or environmental shots. Whatever your subject and whichever you decide to keep is entirely your choice. The linear structure revolves around the behaviour of the main creature for each of the three sections; monkeys, otterdiles, and a Griffin must be snapped for prosperity.
Taking photos isn’t challenging, but finding the mysterious creatures can be tricky. You must complete basic puzzles by manipulating light and sound to create new paths and to force creatures to move. Only by doing this can you hope to fill the journal and complete your grandfather’s wishes. The puzzles will not push you, so don’t come into this expecting a tough time. No, instead they add a fun layer that enhances the exploration element.
An island spirit is ever-present, leaving you to interpret why it haunts your journey. Is it simply keeping the island safe from a strange visitor? Or is it the animal spirit of your grandfather protecting you and observing your adventure? However you interpret it, it’s nice to see and adds magic to the gameplay.
Beasts of Maravilla Island has a cartoon aesthetic that ages it.
I loved exploring the world created in Beasts of Maravilla Island. The neon and bright colours, unusual creatures, and vivid environments make it wonderful to look at. However, its cartoon aesthetic dates its presentation. The blocky images and occasionally rough textures detract from an otherwise polished finish. Some minor glitches require the game to be reset, but I’m hopeful these will be patched out.
The colourful images and surreal creatures are supported by a great soundtrack. Wholesome and magical music accompanies you as you explore each chapter. The environmental sounds have a realistic tone that brings the jungle landscape to life. I admire how the developers enhanced the dreamy theme with airy and light sound effects that added to the fantasy story.
Simplicity at its best!
With its clean UI and labelled controls, Beasts of Maravilla Island is simplicity personified. The well laid out and basic control mapping is mastered in minutes, meaning there is no need for a tutorial. I loved its straightforward approach as it allows you to snap photos immediately.
The one area that is sadly lacking is replay value. Once you’ve completed the story and taken the photos, there is little else to do. The small achievement list is easy to complete, but beware as its currently bugged! A playthrough can be as short as two hours, but if you take your time and capture every creature perfectly, you could lose yourself for hours.
Beasts of Maravilla Island is a wonderfully relaxing game.
With its simple puzzles and basic controls, Beasts of Maravilla Island is accessible to all. It tells a touching story that has to be seen to be believed. I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! Can you fulfil your grandfather’s wishes? Visit the island, capture the photos, and let the world know what you have seen.