Photography games are very in right now, haven’t you heard? Lifting off earlier this week, Cellular Harvest is a wonderfully relaxing short game about exploring vivid lo-fi wildernesses, capturing alien fauna on camera, and reporting back to HQ so your corporate overlords can turn all those creatures into bug juice. Shooting with cameras, not guns, doesn’t make you any less complacent in extinction it seems.
Making a fleeting appearance in Screenshot Saturday Sundays a few months back, Cellular Harvest is a lovely little photography trip. Between the calming alien noises and chill beats, it’s easy to forget you’re condemning a world with your camera.
You are an Auditor, arriving with camera-in-hand to catalogue a world seeded by corporations untold years ago. It’s time to get a return on your investment, see, and your bosses want to see how much of the alien world’s diverse, wonderful ecosystem can be extracted into cold hard cash. At times, Cellular Harvest feels like playing Pokemon Snap across Half-Life’s Xen levels – an utterly alien low-poly landscape where, thankfully, none of the creatures are trying to kill you.
Those beasties are the star of the show, too. Pulsating amoeba floating lazily through the air, goldfish with a devouring maw in place of a head, a rock-skinned tortoise with snakes bursting out of its shell. Each comes with a little bit of flavour text once snapped, including the extremely-relatable: “sharp and anxious and defies companionship”.
Wow, Nulltalon, same.
Cellular Harvest is out now on Itch.io for $6.99, as part of a two-part bundle containing Purple and Green. I gather they’re largely the same game, taking place at different times of day. It’s a weird workaround, but one Xalavier’s used before to collaborate with folks without having to found studios or creat joint Itch accounts.
Releasing games is pretty weird, y’all.
Disclosure: He who has somehow worked on every game ever made, Xalavier Nelson Jr, has obviously written for us a bunch on the site. He was also the writer on Can Androids Pray, a sad robot game he, composer Priscilla snow and I released last year.