Review – Flutter Away

I have talked about how games don’t necessarily need to be fun to be considered good in the past. I have lavished games like The Last of Us Part II and The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante, but even those games knew how to deliver in terms of emotions, catharsis, storytelling. If you’re not trying to make an arcadey banger or a jack of all trades, you need to, at the very least, have some substance. This is what made me dislike Minabo: A Walk Through Life so much. It was just “all concept, no payoff”. It felt more like an experiment, one we were supposed to spend money on in order to be the guinea pigs. Flutter Away is yet another example, but this game didn’t infuriate. It just bored me, even though it has its heart in the right place.

Flutter Away butterfly

Find butterfly, take picture of butterfly, interact with butterly, catalogue butterfly, repeat.

In Flutter Away, you take control of an unnamed girl on a five-day camping trip in the Amazon jungle. Her objectives go as follows. She is here to catalogue a multitude of butterfly species, which can be done by taking a picture of them, and then making them interact with you by landing on a tree branch. You will also be told to take occasional pictures of other things and places, such as the night sky, a nearby cave, and a bonfire you have so meticulously lit by pressing a button. Furthermore, you can befriend a capybara because, well, the game tells you to do so. Do this for about an hour, and the game ends.

I think Flutter Away was trying to convey a message about environmentalism and sustainability, which could be seen with its focus on teaching us about a handful of butterfly species (it never goes past a written note on your notebook) and the fact you cannot even step away from dirt paths because doing so would harm the grass and Amazonian flora. No, really, that’s a thing that is actually explained in-game. But here’s the problem: there’s nothing to do in it that has any kind of substance. It’s as boring as boring can be.

Flutter Away

A beautiful world… with nothing to do in it.

It’s not even poorly made. The game looks cute enough, with a vivid color pallette. The one tune which comprises its soundtrack is bland, but hey, it’s there. The controls are decent, and the physics work as intended. Nothing about it is technically bad. It’s just the fact it’s simply not rewarding at all to play. It offers nothing. You collect information about the butterfiles, do some extra objectives, talk to a capybara (in yet another instance of the bizarre fascination the world has with these animals that can be found everywhere in Brazil)… but for what kind of payoff? None, that’s what.

Flutter Away capybara

Flutter Away really, REALLY wants you to befriend this damn capybara because of… reasons…

I get that Flutter Away was made with the best of intentions, but I can’t, for the life of me, even begin to question who is this for. This feels less like a game and more like a competent student project, lasting for about an hour, meant to showcase some mechanics and some cute visuals. As a game, however, I just don’t see its appeal. There is no catharsis, no semblance of a challenge, no rewarding for complete its mundane objectives. Take a few pics of butterflies, interact with a capybara, make a bonfire, and so on. The game is over before you can even start paying proper attention to it.

Graphics: 7.0

It’s the game’s main highlight. The visuals are cute, if a bit dated, but I did appreciate the vivid color pallette. Sadly, given how Flutter Away is so short, there’s not a lot of actual visual variety in here.

Gameplay: 4.5

Walk around, interact with butterflies, tinker with elementary-level physics, and take pictures of what the game deems important for you to document, be it a moth, a capybara, or your own campfire.

Sound: 6.0

One single serene tune, repeated ad-nauseum, is what constitutes the game’s soundtrack. 

Fun Factor: 3.0

I appreciate the environmentalist message, but there is not a lot to do in Flutter Away. As a commercially available game, it is shallow, devoid of any catharsis, and very brief. It lacks substance.

Final Verdict: 4.5

Flutter Away is available now on PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.

A copy of Flutter Away was provided by the publisher.