Alba: A Wildlife Adventure Review
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, developed by ustwo, is a game that is making a difference in the world...literally. For every download or purchase of the indie title, they plant one tree. Joining forces with Ecologi, the developers have the goal of planting 1 million trees. Taking to heart the message of their game: Even the smallest person can make a big difference.
Within my first minutes of playing this game, a smile appeared on my face and, for the rest of my wildlife adventure, it never left. You play as Alba, a young nature lover, who has just arrived on the island of Pinar del Mar for her annual summer visit to see her grandparents. Soon after arriving, Alba and her excitable cousin Ines find a beached dolphin. Teaming up with a group of helpful islanders you help said dolphin back to the blue sea, and the rest is history. Alba and Ines team up to form “Alba and Ines Wildlife Rescue League'' or AIWRL for short. Everything about this game just put a smile on my face. It was nice to spend an afternoon playing a game as a good kid, surrounded by good people, who wanted to do good things. Video game worlds today are often so dark and dreary, so my time with Alba was the change of scenery I needed.
Your adventure takes place on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Pinar del Mar, which is just begging to be explored. It’s home to a colorful town to wander, old ruins to investigate, and sandy beaches that host a lovely orange sunset. The game has a very simple art style but I couldn’t resist capturing a couple of pictures of the tranquil scenery. A good chunk of my childhood was spent on an island and playing as Alba took me back to those times. It reminded me of some of my own after school adventures I had as a child.
When it plays, the music in this game is very fun and energetic. It filled me with wonder for what’s in store at the start of each day. However, most of your time exploring is going to be quiet, which is not a bad thing at all. You are instead listening to the peaceful sounds of birds chirping, the soothing waves washing up on a sandy shore and the crunching of the dry grass as you explore the woods. All of which are so satisfying to hear as you uncover all there is to see on the island.
The mayor of Pinar del Mar is like many politicians; his image and reputation are very important to him. He wants the island to be hustling and bustling with tourists again. His grand scheme? To build a gigantic luxury hotel, using the nature reserve as square one. He believes it is beyond saving, but AIWRL thinks otherwise! You have only a week to stop the construction, so the young activists spring into action and start a petition to present to the mayor by Friday. Days in the game are spent doing various tasks. Repairing birdhouses, restoring habitats, cleaning beaches, and aiding your fellow human too. In return, you gain signatures for your petition in addition to the warm fuzzies you feel when you do a good deed. Doing these tasks doesn’t feel like a chore at all. Completing this game will take no more than an afternoon especially if you get as hooked as I did. You have a to-do list that quickly populates with tasks to fulfill on the island as you progress the story. Most of these tasks involve healing animals or helping out a neighbor; all of which are very light and simple. Gameplay that is feeding further into what I believe is one of their messages. Being kind to others isn’t hard. It’s the opposite.
Besides saving the island there are many sights and cute animals to see using your most important tool, your handy dandy cell phone. Using it to capture photos of each new animal you find. Cataloging all 62 animals that can be found was a fun task. Alba also owns a guide that tells her what each animal sounds like and what part of the island you can find them. Which was useful when I was tracking down the remaining creatures. Although there was one occasion where an animal I was searching for just simply wasn’t where the guide told me it would be located. I spent quite a while meandering around where I thought to be the correct location, only to later find the creature that eluded me for so long was in a tree on a different part of the island.
Not being able to move while your camera was equipped was a tad annoying at times. Identifying the animals requires the subject to be in the center of the frame. If you don’t line it up well enough you need to back out and reposition. Thankfully the animals are patient with you and often won’t move or fly off too far until you snap the perfect picture.
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is available on PC, via Steam, and Apple Arcade. My time with Alba was spent on the former. Throughout my 4-hour runtime, I encountered minor dips in frame-rate and a few bugs; nothing that hindered my experience. The few glitches that I encountered disappeared as quickly as they popped up.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this game. Accompanying me to the very end was the smile on my face. I found myself surprisingly invested in characters and their issues. Despite the story being simple, there were some surprising moments at its climax that helped round it out. Ustwo games allowed me to enjoy nature from the comfort of my Wal-Mart task chair. They also made me feel like I should go out and make a change, and just by downloading I already have.
And that’s the Borderline Bottomline for Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
Review Written by Rauwshan Warner