Umurangi Generation Special Edition review – a uniquely thoughtful game about crisis

To plan ahead, or just jump in? Umurangi Generation is a game about taking pictures, and at the beginning of each level you can begin, if you wish, by having a look at the list of specific objects you are asked to snap. These are the bounties for you to deliver. Two disposable cameras. Skateboards. Two cats, but taken with a telephoto lens. A mortar and a shotgun and – hey wait, what?

So you can go in all methodical. You can yoke yourself to the ten-minute time limit always ticking down, which gives you a bonus if you get your work done within its bounds. You can head out into the world thinking, “Skateboards. Two cats. Two cats. Cats!” It’s pretty entertaining. Where are those dang cats anyway? Where’s my telephoto lens?

Or you can just jump in. I often jump in. I take a few pictures, I try a few lenses. I get acquainted with the fluttery, mechanical, intricate thing that is the camera I’m holding, its riot of moving pieces and tight grasshopper windings somehow making themselves known through the Switch I’m actually holding. Through the magic of haptics, perhaps, or the sheer suggestibility of the brain. I snap a few things and maybe I get lucky – oh, that was on the list, was it? (Each item ticked off the list is accompanied by a sort of musical wind chime effect that is always a thrill to hear.) And then I am confronted by something or other. In the middle of a level, I will see the wall. The huge wall. The wall that is stenciled as property of the UN, with a fine for any damage caused to it. Hey wait, what?

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