Welcome to Play Games, Save the Planet! A new series where we rave about great games that support good causes, depict the climate fight in interesting ways, or have a fantastic message. Or in the case of today’s game, do all three! Yes, we’re kicking things off with a game so delightful it made me smile, and I’m British. They throw people out of my country for far less. It’s Alba: A Wildlife Adventure!
We’ll take a look at some of the terrific organisations developer ustwo games have gotten involved in. But first, let me introduce you to a game so pretty that my eyes officially aren’t worthy of looking at it…
Out now on Apple Arcade and Steam (and coming to lots of other platforms this year), Alba is the best childhood summer holiday you’ll ever take. Young Alba visits her grandparents on a sun-soaked Mediterranean island. Wait, did I just spell ‘Mediterranean’ right on the first try? Whoa, suddenly my crippling Creative Writing college debts were all worth it! Even if playing this game is the closest I’ll ever come to affording a vacation….
Anyway, Alba soon learns that this picturesque island has a lot of problems. Its decrepit Nature Reserve has clearly seen better days. But instead of fixing it, Mayor Toni has plans to convert it into a luxury hotel. WHAT?!!?!??!?!?!??! >:O
Alba and her friend Inés aren’t going to stand for that rubbish. They found the brilliantly-awkward acronym AIWRL (Alba Inés Wildlife Rescue League) and start petitioning island residents for signatures to prove they don’t want no stupid hotel. You also prove the island is home to all sorts of fantastic indigenous life in need of protection by taking photos and cataloging the animals with a nifty app on Alba’s phone.
Fair warning: getting snaps of all the animals gets addictive. Really addictive. It’s easy to forget what you were meant to be doing because you’re too busy scampering across the island trying to track down that elusive owl you need for your collection. It’s even educational. Thanks to this game I now know that the latin for squirrel is inamabilis sciurus, and therefore I finally feel complete inside. About time!
If you’re playing on iOS, you even move Alba’s phone around to position her camera by moving your phone/iPad. This is, and I’m not interested in any counter-arguments here, clearly powered by magic. I’ve burnt people at the stake for less.
Excellent touch screen controls on iOS make exploring a breeze, and who wouldn’t want to take thousands of photos on an island this pretty? It’s a gorgeous place to explore, all accompanied by the various barks, tweets, and baas of the animals, and a wonderful soundtrack by Lorena Alvarez that’s officially the best thing to happen involving sound since the invention of the ear.
Having said that, some of the animal design is a little unrealistic. I mean, what the heck is this animal supposed to be?
UGH. Irredeemable JERKS have coated the whole island in garbage! I’d be throwing up right now, if that wouldn’t just make the problem worse. Luckily, the game won’t stand for this. You’re encouraged to pick up the trash whenever you come across it.
We raised an eyebrow at putting the garbage in bins instead of recycling it, but then Alba’s grandma gave us a recycling bag and we put that eyebrow safely back down. Encouraging recycling is a great moral for a game, especially considering the moral of too many other games is ‘guns solve everything’. Which is… yeah. Not great.
It’s got a witty script, great characters, is super-relaxing to play without being dull (an incredibly tricky balancing act to get right) and anyone who thinks God of War’s Kratos is the most intimidating hero in video games has clearly never crossed the wrath of little Inés:
Who knew recycling, community organizing, helping animals, and rebuilding nature could be so fulfilling? And that writing isn’t fulfilling at all in comparison? Lesson learnt for my next life, I guess. In the meantime, at least I get to enjoy such a warm-hearted adventure. One that my stone heart, covered in a thick layer of lockdown ice, desperately needed. Thanks Alba!
But it’s not just a fun game with some great things to say. The developers also support some fantastic organisations that you can find on their official website. I’m gonna research them now then continue writing this article! Oh no what if they all turn out to be evil 🙁
UPDATE: They didn’t turn out to be evil. Phew!
First off, Alba developer ustwo games have partnered with Ecologi, a tree-planting organization. This isn’t because ustwo games have lost their minds and have started trying to get their game to run on actual trees, like I initially assumed, because I’m an idiot. They’re actually trying to help Ecologi plant 1 million trees!
At time of writing, they’ve already managed 652, 923 trees. Every time someone purchases or downloads Alba, they’ll plant another. So even if you end up hating the game, you soulless monster, why not download it anyway?
Not content with merely helping plant hundreds of thousands of climate-helping trees, ustwo games are also a founding partner in Count Us In. They’re trying to inspire 1 billion citizens to reduce their carbon pollution and deliver global change. Well, as long as all 1 billion readers of this article (I round up) are inspired, that shouldn’t be a problem.
But even that’s not all. Because ustwo games, who, frankly, are just showing off at this point, are also part of the Playing for the Planet alliance, a UN initiative (you can find out more about them by clicking this sentence instead of reading it. Though I concede you could click on it and read it, I suppose).
Finally, ustwo games is a B Corp. That’s not just me trying to insult them and not being able to think of anything good (“haha you’re not an A Corp! Oh God I’m so lonely”). To quote directly from Alba’s website, ‘B Corps are for-profit businesses that meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Through Alba, and these amazing initiatives, we hope to create a measurable positive impact in the world.’
Sounds good to us! What do you think, Inés?
…I was actually more fishing for a compliment on my article. But what the heck, I agree!
You can find out more about Alba, and purchase it, by clicking this sentence and heading to their official website.
Climate Replay is not affiliated with ustwo games. This is just a passionate, borderline-creepy fanpost!