Despite most of the population owning a smartphone with a decent camera, the idea of a photography sim still holds much appeal. This is largely due to developers choosing fun or interesting locations and themes, rather than opting for everyday settings. Flutter Away is a fine example, involving a city dweller spending five days in a tropical rainforest cataloging butterflies – along with whatever else ends up in her viewfinder.
After a brief tutorial entailing setting up camp and snapping your first butterfly, you’re left free to complete objectives to fill in a journal. The journal plays a key part – it acts as a diary, detailing the day’s events, and it’s also where photos are stored. Every butterfly encounter is also cataloged here, accompanied by imaginative doodles and descriptions. Moreover, the journal provides a breakdown of the day’s objectives: five to complete during the day, and another five during nighttime. An alluring day-to-night transition automatically takes place once the final day objective is complete.
These objectives are quickly accomplished as each day only lasts around 10-15 minutes, culminating in a runtime of around an hour. You may have to find and photograph a butterfly, shaking physics-enabled bushes to discover their whereabouts, or find and clear a path to the next area.
You’re also soon joined by a friendly capybara, and a handful of objectives involve interacting with it in some way as you slowly gain its trust.
New paths gradually open, but even so, the area available to explore is noticeably small, comprising of just three short paths with dead ends – one of which leads to a waterfall – and the central campsite. If you’re expecting to get lost in the rainforest, discovering new sights along the way, then you may want to dial back expectations. The same applies if you were expecting something as long lasting as New Pokémon Snap. This is more in line with Beasts of Maravilla Island in terms of scope.
Although in part due to its brevity, Flutter Away manages to engage from start to finish. It does also help though that the presentation is lavish, drawing you in instantly. The soft visual style is inviting, the BGM ambient (especially during rainfall), and the photography element is well implemented, with the butterflies not being the easiest of creatures to clearly snap.
In addition to trying to obtain clear photos – which may extend your playtime – the ending screen also reveals a completion percentage and a breakdown of in-game achievements with unlisted criteria. So, you may feel compelled to schedule a second playthrough to see and snap everything.
Flutter Away is the epitome of a ‘neat little game’ and worth investigating if you consider yourself a nature lover or a budding photographer, being both technically sound and visually appealing. It may only last around an hour, but it’s guaranteed to make a train or bus journey flutter, sorry – fly – by. Its non-violent nature also makes it ideal for younger gamers falling under this umbrella, although the candid canine snapper Pupperazzi will hold their attention for longer.
Flutter Away is out Aug 3rd on Switch and Steam. Developed by Runaway Play.