The term ‘walking simulator’ is often used disparagingly; intended to mock experiences which aren’t combat or heavily dramatic in terms of their gameplay or story. Yet some of the most wonderful, affecting and even relaxing experiences I’ve had with games in recent years are from titles that could be – perhaps even should be – described as walking simulators.
Shutter Stroll fits into that category too – and I genuinely don’t use the term with any negative connotation at all. It’s a very gentle, serene wander around procedurally generated, beautifully colourful scenery, with the twist being that you are also able to pull out your camera at any point and take photos of what you can see.
There’s not much else to it; once you’ve taken the photos you need, you can head back to your boat – to either another procedurally generated island or enter the co-ordinates of a specific island, if you wish – and take photos on the next destination you end up in. You can check out the daily island that refreshes each day and take photos there too.
Each photo you take is saved to a folder on your computer for ease of sharing and each of these shows the co-ordinates of the island it was taken on, so if anyone likes the look of the island you captured with your camera, they can visit and take their own photos there.
There’s a wonderful, gentle ambience, with the sounds of the waves lapping against your boat and the shore of the island you arrive at. Sometimes it’s raining, which only adds to the atmosphere too. The lighting and colours in the landscape are wonderfully realised, with the view through the camera looking particularly lovely (note: every single one of the screenshots in this review are photos I’ve taken myself in-game!). IAlmost any photo you take looks great too; I’m hardly a photographer and not the most visually creative person, yet each of the photos I’ve taken seems to look wonderful.
It’s an oddly compelling, incredibly relaxing and chilled out experience that I’ve made time for every day since I first installed it. There are times that I wish there was some wildlife on the island to capture, but it’s hard to complain when there’s such a nicely laidback ambience to the game.
The game’s creator, Jannik Boysen, has also set up an initiative to provide users who cannot afford to purchase Shutter Stroll with a copy of the game; these community copies unlock each time someone buys the game at the current ‘full’ price (which is usually $5). It’s a wonderful, very thoughtful idea and a move that should definitely be applauded.
I’d definitely like to see the concept develop (excuse the pun!) further with the aforementioned wildlife and perhaps even larger islands with more in the way of scenery, but Shutter Scroll is a lovely little experience as it is – and one that I can highly recommend to those of you looking for a gentle, accessible and creative game to play.
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