Flutter Away Review – Butterflies, Bromeliads, And Barbara

Deep in the jungle, a lone adventurer sets up camp. Their goal? Photograph and document the butterflies and moths native to the region, befriend the curious capybara that sometimes hangs around their camp, and collect information about as much of the local flora and fauna as possible. The catch? They’re on a tight schedule – they have only five days to complete as many of these goals as they can. Will their time in the rain forest be a rousing success or a disappointing failure? It’s all up to you – no pressure!

Although that description might sound a little stressful at first, Runaway’s Flutter Away is one of the calmest and coziest games I have played in a long time. The gameplay loop is simple and relaxing: explore your surroundings and complete a short checklist of goals for each of the game’s five days and nights. Every day, you’ll discover three new butterfly species, learning more about them in the process. Plus, if you take a little extra time to do some more exploration, you might make a few Hidden Discoveries, photographing wild birds, frogs, plant life, animal tracks, and more!

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Welcome to the jungle!

One thing I absolutely loved about Flutter Away is that, while it’s primarily a photography game, it is not one where you have to be good at photography at all. Many photo-centric games (think Pokemon Snap) focus on how high-quality or unique of a photo you can get, requiring perfect composition to score highly while also giving you a limited amount of shots to work with. Flutter Away is the exact opposite; as long as the target is in the picture, it counts. You have unlimited photos available to you, so you can retake them as many times as you want if you do wish to seek out the perfect shot – but the game doesn’t require it. Plus, you get to choose your own personal favorite photo to paste into your journal at the end of each day, which was a unique twist that made it truly feel like you were contributing to the player character’s discoveries.

A photography-centric game needs to be pretty to look at, and Flutter Away does that in spades. The Amazon rain forest is a gorgeous, colorful setting, filled with tropical flowers, waterfalls, caves, giant trees, and, of course, butterflies. I especially liked that the main character gets to photograph the rain forest during both day and night, as the night-time aesthetic is beautiful and calming, filled with bio-luminescent mushrooms and night-flying moths underneath a sky filled with countless stars. I found myself taking way more pictures than the game required every single in-game day (and night) simply because I kept finding pretty things that I wanted to memorialize. I think my record was something like a dozen photos of a post-storm rainbow in front of a waterfall…what can I say, I’m a rainbow fan!

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You’ll learn fun facts about every butterfly (and moth) you photograph

No review of Flutter Away would be complete without mentioning Capy-Barbara, the adorable capybara who hangs around the main character’s camp. By paying attention to Barbara’s behavior patterns, players can gradually get closer to her over their five-day trip. Eventually, if you spend enough time with Barbara, you might even get to pet her… and possibly learn an adorable secret or two as well! I love games with adorable animal interactions in them, and the player’s growing friendship with Capy-Barbara is downright heart-warming. I would gladly play an entire game just about befriending and spending time with Barbara!

Flutter Away is a relatively short game, taking about an hour to complete. It is a game that makes excellent use of its short runtime, managing to be heart-warming, educational, and relaxing all at once without overstaying its welcome. While I do feel that Flutter Away could have been a bit longer without getting boring or frustrating, because its gameplay loop is so excellent, I did not mind its length too much. Not every game has to be a 100-hour experience, after all! Although, if Flutter Away’s developers did choose to release a sequel or an expansion to the game, I would happily play it.

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The hand-drawn art style of the in-game journal is absolutely stunning

Despite its short length, Flutter Away does have some replay-ability and/or length-adding in the form of the optional Hidden Discoveries. There are generally around four Hidden Discoveries that can be photographed each day and night, and they range from natural wonders to animals, plants, and tracks. Luckily, although they are Hidden, these Discoveries are not too hard to find, as most of them can be found by photographing objects that are labeled when you look at them through the camera lens. They are also definitely worth photographing, because each one unlocks a gorgeous piece of hand-drawn art in the player’s Journal!

My one – extremely small – complaint with Flutter Away is that, if you miss a Hidden Discovery, you have to replay the entire game to find it again. I was hoping for some sort of day/chapter selection becoming available after you complete the game for the first time, but it does not. My first time through, I missed a Discovery on the final day, and it took me a while to go back through and find it because I had to replay the whole thing rather than simply going back to where the hole in my journal was. Still, this is a minor quibble that does not really detract from an otherwise amazingly solid game.

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Hidden Discovery found!

One small note I want to make before bringing this review to a close – although Flutter Away is extremely light on story, there is a heart-warming queer romance at its center. The main character misses their “partner,” who is never referred to by any gendered terms, and thinks fondly of reuniting with them at the end of their trip. It was really refreshing and heart-warming to see a love story that is not centered around binary gender or does not gender its characters, letting the player really put themselves into the main character’s shoes. I am bummed that we didn’t get to see the main character’s reunion with their partner, though – it would have made a cute during- or post-credits scene!

If you are looking for a short, heart-warming, relaxing game with a gorgeous setting and surprisingly educational content, I would highly recommend Flutter Away. Life is stressful, and an hour-long escape into the Amazon rain forest might be just what you need. Plus, who doesn’t want to pet an adorable capybara? Flutter Away is a wonderful entry into the cozy game genre, with its unique tropical setting, simple but addicting gameplay loop, and, of course, tons and tons of beautiful butterflies!

Kate played Flutter Away on the Nintendo Switch via a review copy provided by the publisher.

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