Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Photography game
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows and SteamDeck))
Developer|Publisher: The Alekon Company |Forever Entertainment
Age Rating: EU 16+ | US Teen
Price: US $13.99 | UK £14.39 | EU € 15,99
Release Date: April 6th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Forever Entertainment
Photography in a video game is not new. Many of you will know Pokémon Snap, Beasts of Maravilla Island or even Pupparazzi, which we just published today. It offers a lot of cool possibilities, and Alekon manages to capture the special fun you can have with it.
Japley Explains It All
In case you are wondering, Alekon is a being, the Fiction of Creativity, but as you start your journey, it is nowhere to be found. There’s not a lot of introduction while you find yourself gliding through a cute and colourful world with the only guidance being: take pictures!
Fortunately, after your ride is over (for a moment, I fancied myself in a Disney attraction), a cute orange creature named Japley, known as the Fiction of Guidance, explains it all. You find yourself in a world where the beings are called Fictions, creatures that live off creativity. Unfortunately, Dullness is taking over, and the only way to stop it is to take photos of as many Fictions as possible, ideally in various poses.
Once you take a photo of a Fiction in any pose, you can see the Fiction in the Dream’s Doorstep. That’s the area you come back to after your photo safaris. Where there was a dark grey sort of statue of a creature, it will now come to life. You can interact with it, play mini-games and solve requests for them.
You can go back to an area in Alekon as often as you like. Even the ones you can only access on autopilot (gliding around on a cloud, as Japley tells you) will net you rewards, as for most Fictions there are more poses to photograph than one. After your ride, your photos are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with higher scores being better. These scores (creativity points) are used to unlock new areas and paths. The game makes it easy for you to progress by automatically judging your photos and suggesting if you can improve them. If you have a better photo, it will automatically be evaluated.
Dream’s Doorstep is divided into four zones, mirroring the areas you see in miniature in the Realm of Fiction. The Realm is managed by Japley; he will let you know when you can access a part of an area. Once you have explored all three paths in an area, you will have the freedom to explore without any time limits. This is where Alekon truly shines: you have seen a peek on your cloud ride and surely see areas you’d love to check out but can’t. And now you are on your own to go where you please. Explore the areas off the beaten path (quite literally right) and find new Fictions. Or new poses for the ones you already photographed. And the farther you are in the game, the more options open up to use and trigger a reaction from the Fictions.
Triggering that reaction is what you want to do in Alekon. While exploring an area, you have a secret weapon at your disposal: an unlimited supply of doughnuts. You will use it frequently to surprise, upset, feed or entice a Fiction. Depending on how you use the doughnut, you will see different reactions from the Fiction. And sometimes, throwing a doughnut can have unexpected results, like unlocking an entirely new area.
Humour Is Present
At first glance, I wondered if Alekon was a kid’s game. But it’s not just the drug reference in the game that is the only reason for the age rating. The things the Fictions say have a nice sense of humour and frequently make me laugh, but it would go right over children’s heads. For example, one of the Fictions is the Bizyburd, the Fiction of Micro Management.
Feels overly important trying to manage it all, like in the image above. Worrying about the ratings the last beach party got. Or Grumbos, who seem to be able to see the worst in any situation, lonely when alone and annoyed in company. It’s these little texts that make the game very amusing for me.
The game is colourful, and the Fictions are well thought out. It’s the attention to detail that I love, like where there’s normally an exclamation mark when a new Fiction arrives…it’s only fitting that it would be upside down when the Fiction hangs upside down too!
Controls and Sound
The controls in handheld on the Switch are good. I did find, mainly in the mini-games, the positioning of the R-stick on the Switch just isn’t fluid enough. Maybe precision targeting will work better in the PC version of Alekon using a mouse. I could have done without the mini-games, imaginative though they are, but that’s only because I’m seriously bad at them. For example, I gave up on trying to whack the mole, just couldn’t catch him. If you’re not a fan of mini-games either, rest assured: I seem to be progressing just fine.
The laid-back soundtrack is good and fits the game well. Not too intrusive but, at the same time, relaxing. There are nice sound effects as well when you get near an area where a Fiction lives. It’s not something you constantly hear, though, and I don’t mind. Otherwise, it would be a cacophony of noises in Dream’s Doorstep with all the Fictions present.
There’s one niggle: Alekon is first person. If you are prone to it, expect serious bouts of motion sickness at some scenes.
Alekon was a surprising game for me. I didn’t know what the game would be like playing a photography game, as it’s my first one. Exploring Alekon is lovely. I enjoyed finding new Fictions, or new poses for Fictions I already had in Dream’s Doorstep. The mini-games are imaginative and fun if you are into them.
The quests often made me smile. For example, who thinks of a quest for you to translate an application to join Captain’s crew in pirate speak? Alekon is a fresh uptake on a photography game, with great text writing and lots of humour.
Final Verdict: I Like It a Lot!