Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is a boundlessly cute self-attributed “Chillectathon” about appreciating nature. You play as the titular Alba, cleaning up a small Mediterranean Island while visiting your grandparents for a summer week-long vacation. Alba’s vacation finds profound purpose when the island’s dwindling nature reserve risks destruction from a pushover mayor and money-grubbing real estate developer! Gross!
Alba and childhood friend Ines need to get 50 signatures from island residents in order to save the nature reserve. With the help of a diverse and lively cast, Alba sets off to learn about the value of conservation, and the beauty of nature.
Developer Ustwo Games captures a pure essence of child-like wonder and summer time energy in Alba: A Wildlife Adventure. Exploring the island is incredibly fun, and the game’s main mechanic of snapping pictures of the island’s vast wildlife never gets old. Alba’s Pokedex-esque smartphone made me feel like a real explorer as I classified the dozens of species that share the island with its human residents.
Among your classification and petition goals and adding to the “chillectaton” name, Alba has several side duties like clearing trash and rebuilding bird houses to make the island more beautiful bit by bit. Even though the game talks about Alba’s eventual return home, you have as much time as you need to explore the island and get your signatures.
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is unexpectedly intelligent in how it doles out its central dilemma. While the idea of an overzealous real estate tycoon is nothing new, some island residents are reluctant to sign your petition for surprisingly rational reason. A very real, modern debate in conservation and environmentalism is the increase of jobs and money that comes with commercial land development. Those reluctant islanders think that the new real estate will spark island tourism and make the local businesses a lot richer. Alba is incredibly fair and tactful in explaining their position on conservation and its coexistence with land development.
With music by Lorenzo Alvarez, Alba is endlessly cheery. Paired with Alba’s memorizing walk-cycle, I found myself aimlessly exploring for longer than I would have expected. The admirable amount of polish on Alba shows in the precise detail given to every square inch of the game’s island. The game’s bouncy and light art-style compelled me to explore every alley and alcove before I was done.
Alba and Ustwo puts their conservation message to work saying on their website that, “For every copy of the game ‘Alba: A Wildlife Adventure’ that is downloaded or sold, one tree will be planted in Alba’s Forest.” Alba’s Forest is ustwo’s (currently runaway successful) Ecologi.com page where they record the number of trees planted on their behalf. Also involving themselves in several other charities, and committing to “social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability,” Ustwo is an admirable force for good.
Ustwo and Alba: A Wildlife Adventure are masterfully successful in delivering their environmental message and I feel wiser after playing their game. It’s not often that I walk away from a game feeling like I’ve done good for the world. Beyond the tree planted from my purchase of the game, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure has inspired me to slowdown and appreciate what makes our world beautiful.
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is available now on PC and Apple Arcade. PS4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch ports are planned for Spring 2021.