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Beasts of Maravilla Island review for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Platform: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Whitethorn Digital
Developer: Banana Bird Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

Before I write anything else about Beasts of Maravilla Island, I should probably admit that I’ve never played Pokémon Snap — either the original game, or the Switch sequel that came out earlier this year.

This is important to note, since the two games seem to have a lot in common. Both are photography games where you take pictures of rare and exotic (and entirely fictional) animals, so — again, never having played Pokémon Snap — it’s quite possible that everything good about Beasts of Maravilla Island is lifted from the Nintendo game.

That said, from what I can tell, there’s one key difference between the two that makes Beasts of Maravilla Island worth playing even if you’ve sunk tonnes of hours into Pokémon Snap: it’s not on-rails.

I mean, it’s not entirely free-roam, either. While there are three biomes in Beasts of Maravilla Island, none of them really connect with each other, and in each one you’re very much steered in one direction.

Still, you get to proceed at your own pace here, and that makes a huge difference — the most important one being that it means you get to enjoy how gorgeous Beasts of Maravilla Island is, particularly in its first two worlds. The first one is a massive, lush tree canopy, the second one is a dark night-world, and both are full of plants, birds, and animals that are brightly coloured with hues from across the spectrum. Even with a few hiccups — which I’ll get to shortly — it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s a pleasure to view these strange worlds through our viewfinder and just take in everything they have to offer.

Unfortunately, the game isn’t without some noticeable technical issues. The game definitely stutters — if not outright freezes — in places, which occasionally detracts from enjoying these majestic worlds. There are also several places that the game’s camera can’t quite reach, which causes it to cut through solid objects and give you a glimpse into the gaping abyss that lies beneath every gaming world. Apart from when the game freezes completely, it’s never enough to completely ruin the game, but it definitely ruins a few nice moments.

And Beasts of Maravilla Island has plenty of those. It may borrow some obvious elements from much better-known (and, frankly, probably better-made) games, but if you give it a chance, Beasts of Maravilla Island should be able to win you over with its charms.

Whitethorn Digital provided us with a Beasts of Maravilla Island Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+