Good day, it is that time again to review a game that’s not new at all. But this time we have an excuse: it’s a console port. It happens quite often that PC gamers get to play an indie game early, and only after some considerable time a console ports is released. This happened with Islanders, too: what is a very old game for some feels very fresh to a console gamer. So, Islanders: Console Edition. Is it any good?
If you know how to Google stuff, you already know the answer: it is. I always admire it when game developers take a typically complicated genre and make it smaller in scale and more accessible, without making it feel cheap. Islanders is not a big release, but it has everything it needs. So, this review will not be long. It doesn’t need to be.
So, we start on a solitary island. It’s not big and there’s not much to do there. It has no buildings it all — hence your presence. At first, it’s not easy to deduct what to do. There’s no real tutorial, you’re just thrown into action. But it’s not hard to see what the game expects you to do.
The idea behind Islanders is simple: buildings react to each other. You can build them wherever, but it’s points you’re after, because without points it’s game over — start from the beginning.
At first it seems a tad convoluted, but after a while you will start recognizing what to place where. Mansions feel good near shamans (for some reason) but hate circuses. Masons need a brickyard and a warehouse. Makes sense. And to get further and further, you need to keep in mind what you will build 20 mins in advance!
Points are everything: they get you new buildings and, after a while, a new island. To win means to move forward, to new islands which are bigger and offer more challenging puzzles. They are randomly generated, so you will never have to work on the same one twice. Which is good, since a Game Over is inevitable, especially in the first hours. I lost quite a bit, but I never felt bad, because I always learned something new. Finding out what buildings are there and how they work is part of the fun, and every time you place one certain building perfectly to get over 100 points at once feels like an amazing victory.
Islanders works for a couple of reasons. First, the game is accessible even for those who never cared about Sim City. Why? It wasn’t made for the fans of the genre, it’s just a… game with city building mechanics. It looks simplistic, and I suppose it is simplistic with not that many fantastic vistas to enjoy. But it’s easy to understand, and the music is pleasant enough. It automatically saves your progress every time you pause it. But… it’s not all perfect. I’ll be honest: I did not expect to see many bugs in a game from 2019, even if it’s a port. And I haven’t seen many, but I have seem some. Sometimes the UI becomes unresponsive, and almost impossible to use. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Hope the patches will fix this — I was playing a pre-release build after all.
Am I hooked? I’d say I am. I am also very relaxed. Islanders: Console Edition turned out to be a very chill and vibey game that’s much more complex that it seems. To top it all off, it’s inexcusably cheap. Really, there’s no reason not to try it.