Photography games are pretty satisfying. Spending ages getting the right framing, tweaking the composition, and then finally taking that shot is a feeling like nothing else. As someone who is an avid screenshot-taker, I love games that let you focus totally on capturing a single moment.
Below is a list of games where taking photos plays an important role. Developers have found a variety of creative ways to include photography in their games. It can be a way to explore an environment, a vehicle for storytelling, part of a game's puzzle mechanics, or the perfect excuse to take pictures of cute creatures.
There have been plenty of photography-based releases recently, and more to come in the future, so I've compiled my favourites in the list below.
A stylish photography game set in a 'shitty future', Umurangi Generation is a game that's much more than taking flashy pictures. Taking on the role of a freelance photographer, you'll be exploring different urban areas and fulfilling photo bounties for money. Not only do you have a bunch of different lenses and equipment to use, after you've taken your picture you can edit it, which is perfect for adding your own distinct style. The photography mechanics are coupled with a great story, too. With the city around you in crisis, it feels like you're recording an event in history, like a record of what went down in this troubled world.
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
The most feel-good game on this list, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is about a young girl visiting a Mediterranean island to see her grandparents. After a group of stuck-up suits decide to rip down the local wildlife park and replace it with a hotel, Alba sets off to take pictures of the local animals to try and convince them not to build. It's a breezy adventure with strong environmentalist themes, and a nice touch is getting some specific information about the animal on your smartphone when you've snapped it.
Known as Pokemon Snap's creepy spiritual successor, Penko Park lets you take pictures of the curious creatures that inhabit an abandoned wildlife park. Sitting in a moving buggy, you need a keen eye and quick reflexes to get the perfect shot on the critters scuttling around you. Some of the creatures are a little shy and will need coaxing out, and others won't be too happy about you taking a picture of them. Penko Park is a great take on the photography game and highly recommended if you're into cute and creepy as a combo.
The half-bug, half-snack critters of Bugsnax are a weird bunch, and it's your job as a journalist to try and find out more about them. Photography isn't a huge part of Bugsnax but taking pictures of the strange creatures gives you more information about how best to capture them in your traps. You'll have a pretty terrible time hunting down each snack without that inside info, so capturing them on camera is a must for any bugsnax catcher.
As a recent research university graduate, you've been given your first job in the field: to study and survey a group of mischievous squirrels. In Nuts, you need to set up cameras around a forest during the day and then survey the footage taken at night, trying to find out what these critters get up to. Tracking the squirrels is no easy feat, and deciding where cameras should go to get the perfect shot and, as well trying to figure out where the squirrels will go next, makes Nuts feel like a detective game. Together with its killer art style and a story with plenty of surprising twists, Nuts is a must-play for any photography fan.
Snapshot is a clever platformer where you use photographs to solve a variety of puzzles. You can manipulate and remove objects from areas by taking pictures of them, like the cut and paste command, and help the cute robot make his way through different levels. There's not much of a story here, but Snapshot has great brain teasers and plenty of charm.
If you've always wanted to take a trip to Scandinavia this game will be for you. Mýrdalssandur, Iceland is a stunning photography game set on Iceland's southern coast. With your camera in hand, this minimalist game is purely about exploration and photography, the game's stark rugged landscape forever temping your camera lens. The graphics are incredibly detailed to the point where I was taking pictures of mossy rocks just because they looked so beautiful. Mýrdalssandur, Iceland is free to play over on itch.io, so you've got no excuse to not check it out.
Photographs is a bitter-sweet puzzle game about exploring memories through old polaroid photographs. Each level presents you with a scene and tasks you with taking a picture of a certain object. You need to use your camera's zoom function to search the area and then take a polaroid snap of the object, which then turns into a small puzzle. It's a charming game, but one of the stories you explore does have an unnerving ending which surprised me, to say the least, but, overall, Photographs uses photography to tell its story in an interesting way.
If you take pictures of cute birds and then don't immediately post them on social media, do those birds even exist? In Toripon, your house gets overtaken by a flock of adorable birds and it's your responsibility to make sure everyone in the world knows how cute they are by posting pictures of them online. These birds are a goofy bunch and can be found hiding in desk drawers, chilling on bookcases, and riding around on your Roomba, so you'll need to search all-around your house to snap them all. Toripon is a free game and available over on itch.io.
Who doesn't love taking pictures of dogs? Pupperazzi is a game purely dedicated to the art of dog photography, letting you loose in a world full of mischievous puppies ready to be snapped. Skateboarding pugs, cheeky chihuahuas, labs sporting the finest dog booties are all waiting to win over your heart. It's almost overwhelming how many good dogs there are. According to Pupperazzi's Steam page, the game should be out in 'woof bark bark,' so if someone could get their dog to translate that, we could actually find out when it's releasing.