Umurangi Generation, released in 19th May 2020, is a cyberpunk first-person photography Environmental Narrative Game developed by a Māori developer Naphtali Faulkner (under ORIGAME DIGITAL) with soundtracks from ThorHighHeels, and published by Active Gaming Media Inc. (in English-speaking countries) and Playism (in Asia) The game is in large part inspired by Faulker's personal gripes with 2019-20 Australian bush fires and COVID-19 pandemic, as well as government's ignorance towards climate change at large.
The game leans on minimalism and stylized Cel Shading with the narrative mostly implied visually rather than told: taking place in a "shitty future" version of Tauranga, Aotearoa (New Zealand), you play as a courier of Tauranga Express who goes around the setting taking photo bounties with a group of friends (and a Chinstrap penguin), amidst an ongoing crisis which sees United Nation's military enforcing lockdown on the streets. You will take photos from around each open-ended levels according to a set of description at relaxed pace (there is no action gameplay sequence to speak of) before ending the level by making a delivery. Each photos (not just the main objectives) will net payment based on '3C'; color, content and composition. And the money you earned go toward unlocking new equipment such as wide-angle lens or more color adjustments options for your photo.
And before we forget, don't take photos of Bluebottle jellyfish.
A set of Downloadable Content named Umurangi Generation Macro is added in 7th November 2020, adding new 4 new levels revolving around what's happening within the UN, new camera systems, spray paint and roller stake for faster traversal to unlock.
This Game provides examples of:
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- The game's photography system is pretty lenient, as the tutorial states "art is subjective". You can get good rewards no matter how you bungled the shot if you follow the "3C rules". Some color correction options are just flatout not considered by the game's reward system.
- There is no real penalty for falling off the map or going out of bounds. The worst you get is the time wasted walking back to where you want to shoot your photo again, which only becomes a problem if you want to deliver the photos under optional time limit.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: "Kaiju" aliens attacking humanity. In response, United Nations diverts massive amount of resource into a series of Eva-esque giant Peace Sentinel mecha (complete with depressed young pilots) that turned out to be ineffective.
- Cyberpunk: In particular, the developer Naphtali Faulkner is frustrated with the aesthetic in mass media refusing to evolve and continuing to be a reflection of the 1980's, and instead aimed for Umurangi to be a reflection of modern times.
- Downer Ending: Gradually worsening situation and The Final Delivery all but imply that humanity is wiped out by the aliens/kaiju in the end.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: The United Nation personnel don't seem to care about a courier jumping around in restricted areas and openly taking photos of their debauchery and evidence of incompetence. Either it's bad game design, or the UN simply doesn't care about their reputation anymore.
- Humongous Mecha: Peace Sentinel units created by United Nations, which looks eerily similar to Eva Units from Neon Genesis Evangelion complete with depressed young pilots as seen in UN Hangar level. The project turned out to be an utter failure.
- In Macro DLC, the laptops in UN Hangar level that hints at the existence of Yellow Keycard Room are displaying a menu screen with cartoon bespectacled scientist on it, which is very similar to the console Solid Snake has to upload photos on during Tanker Chapter of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
- In the same level, one of the other laptops will display a message "N1RV Ann-A awaits." N1RV Ann-A being then in-development sequel to an indie visual novel game Va 11 Hall A.
- Escapism: In face of United Nation's incompetence and knowing the inevitable end at the hands of alien invaders, many people choose to spend the time by setting dance party out on the streets or lose themselves in VR at Gamer Palace.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: One member of group is a penguin, and yes, you have to include them in the group photos, too.
- Propaganda Machine: The United Nation proclaims on various posters and television channels that humanity is winning the war against the aliens. In truth, it's utter Curb-Stomp Battle in alien's favor. The military outpost you re-visit ended up stuck fighting Kaiju with only a handful of foot-soldiers and no reinforcements, eventually forced into evaculation. Giant Peacekeeper unit is implied to be largely created just to keep up a facade that UN did something, without regards to how ineffective the mechas are against the alien threat. All the while, some of the UN higher-ups drink themselves senseless and partying inside Gamer Palace.