Gotta snap ’em all!
Gamers of a certain age will recall the magic that was Pokemon Snap. It wasn’t just seeing the massively popular Pocket Monsters in their natural habitats or solving an ancient mystery for Professor Oak, there was also the mind-blowingly awesome Blockbuster component where you could go to the movie rental giant of yore and print off your Pokemon photos as stickers. It was just such a smart, intuitive use of the franchise that it left a giant hole in many a gamer’s heart, wondering if and when Nintendo would ever bring Pokemon Snap back.
The team behind Alekon decided not to wait for Nintendo to make up their mind about the beloved title (who, since Alekon’s inception, have indeed decided to create a new Pokemon Snap for a new generation of gamers). Taking nostalgic matters into their own hands, they came up with Alekon, which started out as an on-rails photography game — the spiritual successor to Pokemon Snap — but ultimately evolved into something incredibly unique, amazingly magical, and utterly delightful. Coming to Steam sometime in 2021 for $15.99, Alekon’s demo is available as part of the Steam Game Festival for a limited time, so be sure to capture the experience while you can.
In Alekon, players will be whisked away to the whimsical world of Dream’s Doorstep, a land full of fascinating beings called Fictions. These Fictions embody concepts such as leisure, mirco-management, and horn-swagglin’, and can be found all over the themed levels in various poses ripe for the (photo) taking. After completing the routes, your photos will be judged by Japley, the Fiction of Guidance, on things like visibility, size, angle, and the positioning of the Fiction. Japley will then score your photos on a scale from 1 – 10, which will then generate that much Creativity — necessary to find the Fiction of Creativity, Alekon. Can you take high-quality photos of all the Fictions in all their poses to get to the all-important Alekon?
Controls in Alekon are simple, as it’s WASD to move and mouse to look around. The game starts out on the rails in a similar vein to Pokemon Snap, which feels like sitting in an open car driving along a pre-determined route — all players need to do is worry about taking photos by clicking the left mouse button. After taking photos of a new Fiction, they’ll appear in Dream’s Doorstep, challenging players to a unique mini-game such as a rhythm game, pong, or hide and seek. By completing these mini-games, players will receive new abilities, like zooming in and out, throwing food to entice Fictions, or moving roadblocks to unlock new areas back in the photo routes. After completing all routes in a given level, the ability to roam freely will be granted to players so that they may try to coax Fictions into yet undiscovered poses.
When it comes to aesthetics, Alekon is exactly what a magical take on Pokemon Snap would need to be. Alekon’s art design is beyond adorable and brightly colorful. It’s easy to feel the love the developers have put into these worlds, cohesively themed and delightfully imaginative. I enjoyed the music, befitting of the beaches and snowy worlds that featured their dulcet tones. At first, I found it a little odd that the creatures were sentient and talked to me, but that immediately faded once I got to know their charming little personalities. The world of Dream’s Doorstep does not disappoint in the slightest; those looking for a distinctly deep yet still down-to-Earth adorable experience will find it here.
The Alekon demo is surprisingly full — the first world in its entirety and the second world’s first level are open to players, who can easily spend hours trying to find every last Fiction’s pose and beat all available mini-games. The mini-games are all fun and unique in their own way, from reviewing resumes for pirate positions to a battle of wits with a very enlightened being. The one that I spent the most time with was the rhythm mini-game — after struggling with the initial mapping, I went into the settings menu and changed it to something more intuitive for me, finally completing all the available songs and hungry for more. Simply put, Alekon is pretty much already perfect.
Be sure to play the Alekon demo on Steam — Wishlist it to be notified of its release later this year!
Editor’s Note: a previous version of this article stated the rhythm mini-game controls are not remappable; the developer has since confirmed that the controls can be remapped in the settings menu.