Beasts of Maravilla Island (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 23.10.2021

Review for Beasts of Maravilla Island on Nintendo Switch

Set on a magical island only her grandfather has known, Marina must travel and document magical animals and their behaviour in Beasts of Maravilla Island from Banana Bird Studios and Whitethorn Digital. Only she can help save the island from disappearing, as all is not right with it, plus she is charged with informing the world about the creatures within. The 3D adventure involves exploring distinct environmental areas, including α lush rainforest and a mountainous region, cataloguing the creatures behaviours and solving puzzles to proceed to the next area.

The range of unique animals that are native to Maravilla Island, like many real-life islands with indigenous creatures, feels like it takes inspiration from places like the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. There is no explanation of how Marina gets to the island despite it being not well known, but this starts with her disembarking from a ship. Starting out from the beach she ventures into the forest, and on seeing creatures she recognises from her grandfather's journal she knows it is the correct island.

Screenshot for Beasts of Maravilla Island on Nintendo Switch

Exploration is in third-person, and aside from some unfortunate visual issues when climbing, which have Marina placed mid-air against the vines ruining immersion, it is fun walking and jumping around. Various elements of the environment, predominantly plants, are interactive, and once activated provide a means to access new places that bring delight in the clever ways that they are utilised. Without a map of any kind it can prove tricky to remember what has been explored, but it doesn't take too much exploring to figure out where to go next.

Taking photographs is a simple click of a button with a zoom feature that has a wide range of control. It displays what a creature or plant is, and if it is unknown it will say 'new.' It also includes a selfie mode! During camera mode the album can be viewed in the various categories, so it is easy to see what photos need to be taken. Certain photos must be completed for the story to progress, but it is not essential to 100% complete the album to finish the game, although for completionists it is a fun task to do. Photos taken are used in the end credits which is a nice touch, as is the part where taking a photo of some plants helps them bloom and become an essential feature in that area, whether it lights up an area or becomes a platform to traverse on.

Screenshot for Beasts of Maravilla Island on Nintendo Switch

Frequent checking of the journal is vital to see what needs to be photographed. Each creature has several behaviours that need to be individually captured, and patience is needed to see all the behaviours, which are not necessarily all shown at once or by creatures in the same location. The range of motion in some animals is impressive, unexpected, and amusing, which is true to form for real life creatures. Sometimes story events have to occur before new places are revealed, where the creatures act in a particular way. Once a behaviour is identified the photo is put in the journal, and the behaviour is ticked off the task list.

The rest of the journal is with pencil-style illustrations and writing that explain facts about various creatures that are interesting to learn about. Marina herself talks about the wildlife she comes across, recalling what her grandfather spoke about them. Their colours and overall design are as pleasing as the background environment. Occasionally there are glitches like when one frog type creature would jump and then remain in mid-air for a period that was too long to be normal behaviour, completely breaking the immersion.

Screenshot for Beasts of Maravilla Island on Nintendo Switch

The story itself changed from simply documenting creatures to action adventure in exploring ruins, and dealing with a fearsome guardian beast whose purpose is made clear by the end, but who poses a threat to Marina's safety. Unfortunately, on playing this for the review, the game could not be completed because a particular mechanic which should have worked didn't. Videos from the Steam version of the Beasts of Maravilla Island were checked to see what should be done, and despite repeated tries this could not be continued until a much later update was added which solved the problem.

There are plenty of little elements that add to this title's charm, from the loading screen where a bird hops around, the atmospheric, and at relevant points, dramatic music, coupled with sound effects that are expected to be heard in nature, create a cohesive experience making it easy to believe Maravilla is real. The script uses some Spanish phrases when Marina reads words or is spoken to by presumably her grandfather's spirit whose sentiment is understood even if Spanish is not a known language. The autosave feature saves regularly enough that little backtracking was needed if this had to be exited. There isn't any post-game play other than the ability to go back to where the story ends, and revisit the island to fill in the album photos. The extra content of viewing 3D statues of creatures and artwork, including what looks like concept art, is fun to flick through.

Screenshot for Beasts of Maravilla Island on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The inherent curiosity cultivated by both Marina and her grandfather for the unusual and diverse wildlife within Beasts of Maravilla Island, makes the several hours of game time a delight to experience. The various issues fail to detract too much from the overall enjoyment of discovering unusual creatures and documenting them all in Marina's inherited journal through photographs, and revealing the true nature of the island which serves as a reminder that humans have a duty to protect and conserve the world, rather than selfishly destroy it.

Developer

Banana Bird Studios

Publisher

Whitethorn Digital

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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