Steam Game Festival 2021: Beasts of Maravilla Island hands-on preview

Banana Bird Studios' upcoming release is a serene wildlife photography game. Our preview.


There’s an immense amount of variety among the games featured in the ongoing Steam Game Festival. Beasts of Maravilla Island is one that really stuck out to us immediately. Centered around a magical island full of wondrous creatures, Banana Bird Studios’ Beasts of Maravilla Island is warm and welcoming.

New shores

Beasts of Maravilla Island opens with a young photographer arriving on a mysterious island. With only a journal full of notes left by her grandfather and a camera by her side, the photographer embarks on a delightful journey.

While there is a narrative throughline in Beasts of Maravilla Island, the game really allows you to go at your own pace and discover the world as it presents itself to you. It’s peaceful, warm, and serene. There’s also voiced dialogue, as our protagonist often comments on her surroundings and the creatures she encounters.

One aspect that really dials home the sense of immersion in Beasts of Maravilla Island is the sound design. With the island being home to a dense, heavily-populated jungle, there’s an abundance of ambient noise. From the birds chirping above, to monkeys screeching in the distance, to the leaves rustling together, the world feels incredibly lived in.

Taking snaps

The gameplay in Beasts of Maravilla Island is entirely focused on finding unique animals, bugs, and plantlife and snapping pictures of them. These pictures are logged in the photobook, which players can use to track progress. There’s such a vast number of different creatures and plants to find, that the completionist in me immediately wanted to methodically track down each and every one of them.

To add depth, the game also tasks you with taking photos under different circumstances. For example, monkeys exhibit several distinct behaviors, and players will need to capture all of them. Some subjects can only be accessed by using the camera flash, or whistling to get their attention.

A magical new world

Beasts of Maravilla Island is a calm and relaxing photography game that lets players take their time and really live in the world. With a beautifully fleshed out setting, Beasts of Maravilla is one of the most interesting titles featured at the Steam Games Festival 2021, and one we’ll be keeping our eyes on for its launch later this year.

These impressions are based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Beasts of Maravilla Island has a free demo available now on Steam. The game is set to release later this year.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Scream nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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