Home New Review of Umurangi Generation Special Edition – a game that offers a distinctively contemplative experience amidst a time of turmoil

Review of Umurangi Generation Special Edition – a game that offers a distinctively contemplative experience amidst a time of turmoil

Review of Umurangi Generation Special Edition – a game that offers a distinctively contemplative experience amidst a time of turmoil

To proceed with caution or immediately? In Umurangi Generation, the game revolves on taking images. You may choose to start each stage by looking at the list of certain things you need to take pictures of. These are the rewards that are expected of you. Two throwaway cameras. ice skates. Viewed with a telephoto lens, two cats. A shotgun and a mortar and, wait, what?

You may approach it methodically, then. You may set a time restriction of ten minutes, and if you do your task inside that time frame, you’ll get an incentive. You may think as you go out into the world, “Skateboards. Two felines. Two felines. Felines!” It’s rather enjoyable. Anyhow, where are those damn cats? My telephoto lens is missing.

Or simply dive right in. I usually jump right in. I test a few different lenses and snap a few images. Using the switch I’m really holding, I get to know the fluttery, mechanical, complicated entity that is the camera I’m holding and its riot of moving parts and tight grasshopper windings. Maybe via the brain’s inherent suggestibility or the haptic magic. I break off a couple items, and maybe I’m lucky—wait, that was on the list? (It’s always exciting to hear the type of melodic wind chime effect that plays as you cross anything off the list.) And then something or other confronts me. I’ll be able to see the wall halfway through a level. the enormous wall. the wall that bears a stencil designating it as UN property and imposing fines for any damage done to it. Hey, hold on, what?

There is so much more to Umurangi Generation than just snapping pictures, so I’ll have to be picky here. The intersection of two universes is one of its central themes. Tauranga, Aotearoa, is in the midst of a major crisis and is the location you are dropped off at to take your pictures. The game primarily focuses on slowly revealing the issue, which is the stuff of science fiction. I won’t give everything away. However, I would admit that a lot of science fiction channels extremely genuine and timely material. From the viewpoint of teenage punks and skaters, Tauranga is a friendly, artistic home game of scrabble with markers, spray cans, tape decks, ramps, and elaborate graffiti artwork.

Moreover, the UN has intervened to “fix” things—too late, and with all the wrong ideas—and it does seem like something forced on top of the current landscape rather than something that exists in any sort of harmony. But they’ve brought barriers! together with firearms. And so you see the tape decks, the skate ramps, the walls, the shotguns, the marker pens, and the graffiti. I believe that this is an assistance mission, but it seems more and more to be an invasion in and of itself. Take a look at it: the UN has moved in with the businesses and the incompetent, oblivious government.

This game contains a crucial, inescapably angry message from a generation and a group of people who feel invisible and unheard, while those in positions of power overlook clear threats and have foolish priorities (forget about the economy and the collapsing climate), only reacting to catastrophes too late and in confused, haughty, self-serving ways.

But here’s the deal. Although the creator, Naphtali Faulkner, is a member of Ngāi Te Rangi iwi, was initially angered by the Australian government’s inept handling of the 2020 bushfires and Covid, the game is far too clever and well-thought-out to be interested in giving a lecture.

This is a generous game that lets you take control of the camera to immerse yourself in a story and gives you the flexibility and resources to interpret it all for yourself. For an outsider like as me, who is blatantly unaware of Māori history, culture, and experience, this seemed like an incredibly selfless gesture. Being surrounded by people, seeing details, and beginning to comprehend them: Umurangi Generation, especially on Switch, is almost a magic trick. Although the frame rate sometimes lags, you can still do new things like aligning photos using the motion controls. However, on a deeper level, I swear that a part of me vanishes into that luminous screen and only resurfaces after I’m done playing.

It’s quite easy to use: you navigate 3D dioramas and take images of the things that are needed to advance through each level. It comes out that examining the globe and its objects, their arrangement, and the connections that naturally suggest themselves is a great method to comprehend a narrative. Furthermore, it results in a game where the narrative enhances every other aspect of the gameplay.

In this exploration game, you will have to dig about to attempt to figure out what’s going on. You leap and double jump in this traversal game, which might be a little awkward at times and full of obstacles. Eventually, you’ll be able to zoom about on skates to get the ideal angle for a snap. This is a photography game where you may take as many shots as you need, as you like. The game gives you hints on what to look for, but you are free to process and frame the shot anyway you choose, and no one will hold you back too much. What counts is how you express yourself; it doesn’t matter whether you achieved the desired outcome or not. Furthermore, this promotes exploration and tinkering rather than discouraging it.

It is quite lovely. We get to see the world through the eyes of a group of friends who are young and largely ignored by the government, the wealthy, and the incoming UN who bustle around them with their walls, guns, and solutions. The scene is set to the shifting, chopped-up soundtrack of ThorHighHeels’ music, with level-loading announced by snippets of radio static. Every level has the sensation of a separate cosmos. Below ground—are we really below ground?—the scenery is seen through pixelated grain, the simple shapes of bikes and poisoned trees vanishing into purple haze. Candles shine brightly at improvised memorials, while angry and dissatisfied comments glow on graffiti.

Paint cans and breeze blocks are firmly in focus at another location, high above the city on a kind of rooftop skate park, while surrounding buildings are drawn in and gaze over an uneven UN wall that aims to keep back the sea itself. Artifacts from a planet turned into a terrible science fiction film coexist among billboards advertising law firms and poor science fiction films. There are virtual reality bars with ghost dancing electrical females on tables and gamer havens. Sewers have tents erected, and shipping boxes have improvised bars. It’s all colorful, fuzzy textures with overlays of MS Paint details, large areas of blue, pink, and daiquiri yellow.

Being able to line up photos, recognize which objects on your list of objectives are genuinely a perspective problem, figure out how to frame it all, experiment with optional extra items, and gradually comprehend the position that owning a camera places you in makes being in this world quite unique. After a time, the camera acts as a pane of glass separating you from the action and making you feel both within and outside of this universe. Up until…

There are the folks you see, who are crucial. Sharpie-marked face characteristics and pointed triangle noses were applied quickly, but the pose revealed a lifetime of people-watching. It’s well done to depict how individuals lean against walls or bob their heads to far-off music. The way people cluster around candy-chrome automobiles, their chassis smeared with downlight stains on the road. A soldier reclines on a restaurant car chair on a train, hands clumsily behind his head in an extravagant show of comfort during a chaotic moment. On the battlefield, there’s the true anxiety of working as a field doctor; there’s a tangle of arms and legs, you can’t tell who starts and stops, and you have to hover with the camera close by.

A few themes emerge. A late stage in the campaign serves as a call-back reminder of how much the UN has chosen to ignore in their work in the first place, how little they have understood and engaged with, and how much less will be cleaned up when they inevitably leave. The UN appears not to truly see the people around them; the two groups exist alongside each other but are separated, ghosting.

On the battlefield, there’s the true anxiety of working as a field doctor; there’s a tangle of arms and legs, you can’t tell who starts and stops, and you have to hover with the camera close by.

As the game goes on, the locations get more intricate and intensely domestic. The big and the little, the personal and the geopolitical, peace and crises are all continually at play in the mission goals. A rooftop party and a rooftop shooting range are next to one other. Spray cans and disposable cameras are there, along with a mortar installation with a sketched face on the barrel. In a later level, you’re required to maneuver gatling cannons and massive planes in an underground UN base (the Switch version also includes the four levels of the game’s spectacular Macro DLC). There, you’ll uncover a half-heart locket hanging from a golden chain. It’s a hidden object game in the same sense that the Arnolfini Portrait is one; both recognize the ability of objects to evoke strong feelings in us and the deliciously poky curiosity that surfaces may arouse about what individuals possess and surround themselves with.

And as a player who entered the game knowing very little about this universe, the whole experience motivated me to strive and learn even more about it. Since playing Umurangi Generation on the PC for the first time last year, I’ve read Sea People, a recent study on the Polynesian Triangle written by Christina Thompson. I read about a group of islands that were unfortunate enough to be on the path taken by the Spanish Conquistadors. This meant that the people who lived on these islands would constantly be “discovered” by Europeans and would have to play a submissive part in someone else’s heroic, but wholly inaccurate, narrative about themselves. It’s difficult to avoid seeing Umurangi Generation as something of a coda to a scenario that has been developing for decades when reading stuff like that. So, this is a kind and clever game. Classic but ageless, akin to an ideal Polaroid photo.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here