The pitch for Umurangi Generation is that it's a photography game. Much like Pokemon Snap, you're venturing around, trying to capture the best snapshot possible of your surroundings for cash.
But Umurangi Generation isn't on-rails, and it isn't about cheerful monsters and surfing rodents. It's a first-person photography sim set in a "shitty future," where it sometimes feels like you're taking pictures in the ruins of the old world—or the origins of a new one. The city is in a crisis, and that means it's the best time to start exploring the streets and filling up a few rolls of film.
Launching today on Steam, Umurangi Generation has a demo available for those who want to get a sense of what's going on first. At first, it seemed a little barebones. I was given a list of objectives, essentially various subjects to photograph like a Union Jack or seven birds, all in one picture.
The tools available weren't readily apparent, but once I started diving in, it became clear. I could pinpoint the moment where I said, "oh, okay, I get it now," and it's when I scroll-wheeled and switched from a standard lens to a fisheye, then to wide-angle and telephoto lenses. All new kinds of shots opened up with that equipment, and as much as my old college professor would say the photographer makes the equipment and not the other way around, sometimes you need a fisheye for a sick pic of that halfpipe.
Customization goes even deeper, as pictures can be instantly modified after taking using a variety of sliders imitating real-life photo software. You can up the exposure in post, mute the hues, or emphasize the contrast. It all plays into your style, as well as how much cash you get for each shot. Developer Origame Digital really put a lot of thought into the ways players can define their own "eye" for shots through the litany of tools and sliders.
Halfpipes, graffiti, and pals hanging around are what you'll take a lot of pictures of in the demo. Players can either chase the bounties and objectives or, like me, wander aimlessly, trying to line up whatever shot strikes their fancy. Did I often fall off the building trying to get a picture of a seagull? Yes, but we all make sacrifices for the craft.
The full game is out for $14.99 on Steam today, but it seems like a good way to simulate the feeling of running around outdoors and exploring if nothing else. Playing Umurangi Generation reminded me of the times I'd bring a camera along as I explored abandoned buildings and construction sites. Just be careful of that ledge when you're taking pictures of the birds.