We all have these summers that we would love to experience again. The ones where there was no time and the only thing that mattered was going out and enjoying the sun, heat, water, music and the company of friends and family. Alba: A Mediterranean Adventure is a little game that wonderfully sums up these moments and fills them with a powerful message about the importance of nature. Unsurprisingly, it came from Ustwo Games, the UK studio that made Monument Valley and Assemble with Care.
The story is about Alba, a girl who will spend her summer vacation on a beautiful Mediterranean island called Pinar del Mar. Fictional, but clearly inspired by Spanish things. Shortly after sunbathing a bit and reuniting with her old playmate Inés, she learns that the mayor and a building contractor are trying to build a gigantic hotel in a nature reserve. Angry at such an attack on nature, Alba begins collecting signatures to try to stop the mayor’s nickel plans before she has to leave.
Most of the two or three hours this story takes will be spent collecting signatures. It’s not just about putting a piece of paper and a pen in front of them, it’s about getting the locals to discover the breathtaking beauty in which they live. Through voluntary work such as the restoration of a castle ruin, some species are brought back to the island, which supports the local image. The tone may be lively and colorful, also a little innocent, but the message it conveys is powerful. Because it convinces you the importance of celebrating your own nature and the strength of someone’s smallest gesture.
Pinar del Mar is completely passable from the first moment. You can explore how you want, snap photos of the animals and plants, chat with the locals, and do some work to find a solution. I loved traveling through the settings of Alba: A Wildlife Adventure (name in English) looking for creatures to document with my phone. It has a part about the Pokémon Snap and gets the addicting vibe that comes from completing the Pokédex. The sound effects of the animals are also fabulous. And you must have noticed at UsTwo Games as there is no music most of the time, just sounds of nature coming into your head and you start hunting in the real world.
When you’re tired of cataloging species, you can find someone in need or pick up trash or fix broken birdhouses and signs. These side quests are simple and there is no set reward for completing them. However, when you take on the role of Alba, you will because you are feeling good in the therapeutic sense of the word. When the game is over, you can return to the same game to continue these tasks and thus enjoy a little more of the view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Because the design they gave the island is beautiful. I was amazed at how many different places managed to fit into such a seemingly small space. Although the studio is British it has Spanish roots and the art director is David Fernández Huerta, an Akaoni who studied fine arts in Valencia and it shows perfectly that they know what they represent. There are wooded areas, a promenade full of recreational activities for tourists and a castle on top of a mountain that has not received the best maintenance. This repertoire ensures that the routine of searching, photographing and helping is not monotonous and is always oriented.
I think Alba: A Mediterranean adventure is a joy and one of the most therapeutic playable experiences of this 2020. It offers a wonderful open world full of very simple but addicting tasks and deep in his heart there is a very strong message that makes it happen transferred to. The story is short and everything is very simple and continuous, but this weakness is what they wanted it to be. If you want a bit of warmth in this cold winter, take a stroll through the Mediterranean with Alba.