Point and Shoot

You need to play the best photography sim on Xbox Game Pass ASAP

You won’t guess how Umurangi Generation ends, but it’s a great trip.

Origame Digital

How should you spend your time when the world is ending?

Shutterstock

Origame Digital

That’s a question you may be asking yourself recently, but it’s also an idea at the heart of 2020’s Umurangi Generation.

Origame Digital

Developed by Origame Digital, Umurangi Generation is a first-person photography game set in a future on the verge of disaster.

Photography has been a part of gaming for a long time, whether it’s through dedicated photography games like Pokémon Snap and Toem, or through the increasingly common photo modes in games like Red Dead Redemption 2.

Nintendo

Origame Digital

One of the many things that sets Umurangi Generation apart is how seriously it takes its photography.

From the start, you can tweak effects like exposure and color balance. As you progress, you’ll unlock ever more advanced techniques and lenses.

Origame Digital

Origame Digital

By the end, you’ll have a kit of lenses for any situation and ways to adjust everything from film grain to depth of field.

Origame Digital

If you don’t know what any of that means, Umurangi Generation will teach you. Just point and shoot, then spend as much time as you’d like tweaking the result afterward.

Origame Digital

Umurangi Generation isn’t just a photography sim, though. It’s a bitter condemnation of government indifference, a tribute to the value of art even as the world collapses, and so much more.

Developed by a member of the Ngāi Te Rangi Māori people and set on Māori land, Umurangi Generation is a response to Australian politics that feels both specific and universal.

Origame Digital

This isn’t entirely clear from the start. The game plays out over eight levels (plus four more in the Macro DLC), each of which is a diorama cluttered with people and their detritus: boomboxes, spray cans, and later, weapons.

Origame Digital

Origame Digital

The first stage is a serene rooftop hangout. You’re given a set of “bounties” to capture (seven birds, the Union Jack up close, the word Mix) and set loose.

Origame Digital

Roaming each dense, intricate level to find the stories it hides is a treat on its own.

Origame Digital

Finding the right subject and the right angle to capture them from feels satisfyingly like real street photography, with much more compliant models.

Take all your assigned photos, head to the exit, and it’s off to the next stage. The first person you see on stage two is a soldier; your bounties include shooting targets and a mortar.

Origame Digital

Umurangi Generation never tells its story outright.

There are no exposition dumps or explanatory text. Not a word of dialogue is spoken.

Origame Digital

Origame Digital

But as you scour each winding, cluttered level, a story emerges nonetheless. Why is the UN here? Why are they building walls? What’s that shape in the distance?

Origame Digital

By asking you to pay close attention to the environment for your shots, Umurangi Generation primes you to find what you need to piece the story together yourself.

Origame Digital

Umurangi Generation isn’t a game about saving the world. It’s about what happens when governments are more invested in controlling their people than protecting them.

Origame Digital

As apocalypse looms, people dance in the streets, escape reality with video games, and spend their last days with their friends and family.

And you document it all. What else are you supposed to do?

Origame Digital

Umurangi Generation is available on PC, Switch, and Xbox Game Pass.

Origame Digital