Umurangi Generation (PC) Review

By Athanasios 22.02.2021

Review for Umurangi Generation  on PC

Gamers first entered the world of first-person perspective with RPGs and shooters, and then continued with action-adventures (especially of the horror kind), racers, puzzlers - and pretty much any genre imaginable. How about a first-person photography game… that's not Pokémon Snap? Yes, that's not exactly something that has been done to death. Add to that how Umurangi Generation has a great urban atmosphere, cool and stylish PS1 era visuals, as well as a fine OST, and it's easy to believe the highly positive reviews out there that claim that this (supposedly, politically charged) indie is a must-have.

The aim of the game is to take photos, deliver them to get paid, and gain a new piece of equipment every now and then, usually in the form of different kinds of lenses, like telephoto for distant shots, or wide-angle that captures more "stuff" from a scene, and so on. How exactly does this score shots, though? Well, it just so happens that it understands that art is subjective, and thus isn't ever critical of anyone's work. In other words, you are free to simply wander around, and just enjoy the chill vibe this gives, while an almost loungy assortment '80/90s-ish drum & bass and electro-ambient tunes play along your trip down the graffiti-filled urban landscape. Too bad you don't really have any time to relax.

Screenshot for Umurangi Generation  on PC

A 10 minute countdown ticks while playing. Well, it's not really a countdown, as one can keep on playing after said amount of time passes. This is actually just a timer that forces you to complete your objectives as fast as possible, so you can get a higher score (aka, dollars), essentially destroying the mood, and keeping you away from taking any worthwhile photos, which is, undoubtedly, the first half of what Umurangi Generation is. The end result is players sticking to their objectives, and rarely taking care of the artistic side of the trade. Therefore, if the task is to capture 'Three Birds,' you just aim when such an opportunity appears, sadly rarely caring about the result.

This wouldn't be such a big deal if the actual process of exploring around wasn't so tedious and unpolished. Moving around feels as if you are a camera on wheels; when crouching it's as if the ground suddenly moves up, which is immersion breaking; and, finally, jumping from platform to platform to reach a specific spot, which is a major component of the whole experience, is kind of imprecise, leading to lots of annoying missteps. Exploration is generally not as fun as it should be, and revolves a lot around aimlessly walking around until you find what needs to be found - which leads to the main flaw here: the objectives and the rules that govern them are extremely uninspiring.

Screenshot for Umurangi Generation  on PC

The list of objectives says 'Capture 3 Markers?' Then you only need to do exactly that: find three worthless markers, and take a boring photo of them. Taking a shot of '5 Bicycles,' '2 Boomboxes' or '1 Duct Tape' is the same deal. What would be better? Well, something that would require to use one's imagination, and which wasn't as straightforward as '3 Lit Cigarettes,' or 'The Word "Gamer" 7 Times.' Sometimes, however, the game doesn't even work correctly, failing to accept a shot after multiple attempts, or managing to capture an item that's behind an obstacle, as if the camera has an X-Ray mode. Moreover, the world is far from a dynamic one, so don't expect having to wait for something to happen. People, animals, and items, simply wait to be photographed.

Screenshot for Umurangi Generation  on PC

If there's something that makes all that more tolerable, that would certainly be Umurangi Generation's atmosphere. While the visuals could be much better (this is about photography, after all), the mini-levels players will get to explore here are quite aesthetically pleasing, with their PS1-esque, low-poly design, and ultra-retro style. In the world of this game, skateboard culture gets entwined with a paper-thin layer of cyberpunk/futuristic dystopia. The background music is a fitting playlist full of moody, relaxed electronic tracks that sit somewhere between drum & bass, synthwave, trip hop, and low-tempo acid house. Too bad the setting itself feels dead and sterile. It's the alpha build of a game world, which still manages to be charming.

As a final note, this is supposed to a politically charged product; one hidden behind the veil of a simple photography sim. Not really. The environmental storytelling at hand shows a society on the verge of corruption and close to its death, with lots of anti-military/anti-capitalism/anti-government graffiti on the walls… and that's about it. The political undertones available are lukewarm at best, and handled in a somewhat half-baked way. It wants to stick it to The Man, but doesn't know how. A teen. A rebel without a clue. As a whole, sure, Umurangi Generation is a great idea, but it's disappointing in its execution. Hopefully the developer will up its game, and offer a sequel that improves about every single aspect.

Screenshot for Umurangi Generation  on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Put the neat PS1-era retro visuals, its strong atmosphere, and the meaty and fits-like-a-glove OST aside, and what's left is a first-person photography sim that's charming, but not fun. Exploration should be engrossing and challenging, but is just boring and unpolished, and taking photos, basically the core of whole thing, is an unimaginative chore that doesn't put your skills to the test - it just puts you to sleep. It's hard to hate this, though, as it's an obvious labour of love that simply didn't manage to be as entertaining as it could be.

Developer

ORIGAME DIGITAL

Publisher

Playism

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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