Alekon: A Picture Perfect Experience – PC Review

It feels like only yesterday that I finished playing the rather excellent photography game Beasts of Maravilla Island. After completing it I went on a bit of a photography game binge, looking for everything and anything photography related. It used to be one of my biggest passions when I was growing up. But back then games focused on the art form weren’t really a thing. Fortunately, while hunting for new titles to satiate my needs, I was reminded of Alekon, which we’ve covered a few times in the past. Alekon is a game that promises to innovate upon the recent stunning, yet unprogressive New Pokémon Snap. Incredibly, this indie title not only manages to outclass Nintendo’s pitiful performance but improve upon it in every possible way.

In-game Screenshot

“Being able to finally step out into the wilderness is a truly liberating and rewarding experience.”

In Alekon you must take photographs of Fictions, a vast array of brilliantly designed creatures that populate its world. There are a few islands that make up Alekon’s world each begging to be explored. To begin with, you’ll go through on-rails segments that will take you through small segments of the environments. However, these never last much longer than a few minutes. Once you’ve completed them, you can wander the island freely on foot.

In-game Screenshot

Once exploration opens up, and you’re given free rein to venture out, Alekon shows its true, glisteningly brilliant colours. Each area is packed with fun details and hidden secrets to uncover. While snapping pictures of Fictions during the on-rails segments, you’re often teased with distant landmarks or fluttering fictions that are too far away to truly capture. Being able to finally step out into the wilderness and peek behind the metaphorical curtain is a truly liberating and rewarding experience.

“If you want to unlock the next island, you’re going to have to coax some new poses from those pesky Fictions.”

That’s not to say that Alekon’s on-rail sequences are bad by any means. They offer a guided tour through the game’s many locations, and essentially set you up with a few poses before you’re tasked with unlocking additional ones. To use a Yu-Gi-Oh metaphor (because why not), Alekon’s on-rail segments are like a starter deck. They’re cushy, and ease you into the experience, but are only the beginning of your adventure.

Taking a picture will net you a range of points from 1 to 10 depending on various factors. If you want to unlock the next island, you’re going to have to coax some new poses from those pesky Fictions. However, you can’t just snap a bunch of photos of the same Fiction doing the same pose. The photo that will net you the most points is the one that is used. You can always snap a better photo later on to gain additional points.

In-game Screenshot

This is essentially where the gameplay loop comes from. Venturing out into the island and utilising Alekon’s various gameplay mechanics to force unique poses is what you’ll spend the majority of your time doing. During the brief on-rails segments you’re likely to get a few new poses and earn yourself a handful of points. However, once you’re able to walk freely and interact with each location as you see fit, you’ll come out with a ton of points. You could technically unlock all of the poses at once during a free-roam session. However, I’m not all that convinced this is the best way of approaching Alekon.

“Mini-games help bring a lot of personality and life to Alekon’s world, and make finding a new Fiction feel that much more rewarding and exciting.”

Whenever you snap a picture of a new Ficiton, it is unlocked in the hub world. Once you leave an island, you can come back to the hub world and interact with that Fiction. Talking to them will introduce you to a mini-game of sorts. These can range from laugh-out-loud dialogue-based interactions all about philosophy, to playing pong with an Octopus. They help bring a lot of personality and life to Alekon’s world and make finding a new Fiction feel that much more rewarding and exciting.

Alekon - Mini-games
In-game Screenshot

This is why smashing out all of the poses in your initial free-roam section feels like a bad idea. I found that exploring at my own pace, capturing as many poses as I could without going out of my way, and then heading back to the hub-world for a quick philosophical discussion or to arrange a beach party with a bunch of Fictions, netted me the most enjoyment. Should you not capture all of the poses, you’ll be shown which ones are left on a handy rock wall. Clicking on any of the remaining poses will also give you a little hint on how to unlock them. It’s just a nice little touch that makes the game more accessible.

“Of course, a photography-based video game wouldn’t be half as fun if it weren’t a visually striking delight. Fortunately, Alekon is absolutely stunning.”

The great, and truly wonderful thing about Alekon is how approachable it is. It’s not that Alekon isn’t packed to the rafters with enjoyable content, or that it’s not complex. Instead, Alekon’s systems are easy enough to understand that it’s easy to approach and enjoy from the offset. There aren’t a ton of intricately complex mechanics to get your head around. Fortunately, any new systems that introduced are done so at a good enough pace. But what is available to the player is so versatile, that a mechanic as simple as tossing a doughnut at a Fiction can lead to a vast array of different reactions.

Alekon - Gameplay
In-game Screenshot

Of course, a photography-based video game wouldn’t be half as fun if it weren’t a visually striking delight. Fortunately, Alekon is absolutely stunning. From long stretches of beach populated by swaying palm trees and washed up shells dotting the shoreline to lavishly detailed Fictions and their uniquely inspired and instantly iconic designs, Alekon impresses almost immediately. And that’s to say nothing of its various other areas, all of which astound the moment you see them. But those I will leave for the player to experience first-hand.

“Alekon is an instant classic that I don’t doubt will go down as one of the greatest games in its genre.”

Alekon is an undeniably jampacked experience. While it may start off rather simply, with on-rails segments dominating the early moments of the game, once it opens up it offers a plethora of content for you to enjoy. This is an outstanding photography-based game that sets the bar rather high in terms of what we can come to expect from the genre.

In-game Screenshot

Alekon’s dedication to its world-building sets it apart and allows a completely new IP to immediately become iconic. Its Fictions feel far more unique than the overused Pokemon we’ve seen a thousand times. They offer up a far more interesting world to explore filled with personality, charm and character. This is an instant classic that I don’t doubt will go down as one of the greatest games in its genre.

Alekon - Feature Image
Alekon Review
Summary
Alekon is a stunning photography game with a ton of variety. Whether it's exploring the beautiful and vast locations on-rails or on foot, or it's engaging in the myriad of mini-games available, Alekon always has something for you to do. Everything in this game is packed full of charm and personality, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Pros
Absolutely stunning
A lot of variety in content
Accessible and fun
Cons
Minor inconsistencies in photo ratings
8.5