Developed By: PixelNicks
Published By: Screenwave Media
Category: Roguelite Action/Platformer
Release Date: 07.11.2019
Games that look as good as Eagle Island does are my guilty pleasure in gaming. Finding those indie titles that rock out the pixel graphics and send you on an interesting adventure is why I game in the first place, and Eagle Island gets a lot of those things right, while also causing some frustration from time to time. Eagle Island is a roguelite, meaning you make runs that will eventually end in your demise with you returning to life to try again. Beyond that the game is an action/platformer with combat tied to throwing your poor little owl at the enemies to defeat them. Can you save your captured owl before it is too late?
Eagle Island starts with Quill, the protagonist, and his two owl companions, Koji and Ichiro, crash landing on an island. As you enter the isle you find you are the subject of a kidnapping, as a giant eagle swoops down, stealing Ichiro from you and flying away. You run into town with Koji and find a villager of this bird-worshipping society who tells you to begin your journey to collect the items necessary to defeat the eagle, Armaura.
The game has light Metroidvania elements, in that you collect items from dungeons necessary to progress through the game, but the lack of backtracking or interesting uses for these items doesn’t really make the game a full on Metroidvania, and that is a theme I found present throughout playing this title. It doesn’t go full bore into any of its genres or mechanics, which is a blessing and a curse. You have some flexibility in creating a game like this, but you also must hit on all parts of the title in order to not fall short in certain areas. This game falls short in a few spots.
These items you collect basically allow Koji to have elemental powers, and these attacks are used with mana you collect from enemies and chests. The power-ups are cool, and with the great graphics here you get a really nice effect, however they seemed like something I ignored most of the time. Your basic attack gets you through most of what you need to do, and most enemies die in one hit anyways, so using these special attacks were fairly uncommon in my runs.
You also have an upgrade system in which you collect runes that give you certain abilities or upgrade you characters. These have some cool effects, but most of these as well fall short in their usefulness. Increasing your jump ability, Koji’s launch speed, and things like that are probably useful, but didn’t have a noticeable effect on the gameplay at large. However, power-ups like increased health being stacked up were very helpful, so it really is just a shake of the dice to see if you get something that will actually aid you in your runs.
Beyond that you collect coins and seeds from defeated enemies that allow you to open up gold chests, or can be used to purchase upgrade runes from the shop run by a talking toucan. One thing I found odd though is the lack of carryover from run to run in any meaningful way. Most roguelikes and roguelites allow for some sort of progression from match to match, even if it is just a carryover of your coins or something, but this game fails to have any of those mechanics. This left me wondering why the game is a roguelite at all, and why they didn’t just decide to have a life system or something else, as keeping track of your runs seems unimportant.
The game does a lot right as well, and one thing I truly enjoyed was the difficulty level. The game never felt cheap, and when playing through this title I found that I got better at maneuvering while launching my owl, and this allowed for just the right amount of improvement as you get further into the game.
I also enjoyed the platforming and combat in general, which is the main thing you will do in this title overall, obviously. Platforming felt smooth, and once you master the slightly unique jump system that allows for longer jumps with longer button presses (I know this sounds common, but the way this title feels is not like anything I have played before) and the combat that goes outside the norms of traditional platformers with you launching a freaking owl at enemies is something I truly enjoyed experiencing. The satisfaction that comes from throwing an owl at an evil plant and watches it explode is a thing of beauty.
The boss matches in Eagle Island are extremely well done also. I found each fight to be unique and interesting in its mechanics, and really brought me back to a game like Mega Man that had just enough in common from fight to fight to allow for some blind knowledge of what to expect, while also having entirely new mechanics that make things more interesting.
The one thing I really wish I could have experienced more from was the story. There really isn’t much here to talk about as the basis of it all is to just save your owl from the bad eagle, but the characters you meet have just enough quirkiness and the island you are running through with its bird-inspired society is a place I would have liked to learn more lore and history about. They really built an interesting place for you to play around in, and I felt like my time there was wasted in a sense with not letting me know more about it.
The graphics are top notch. It’s very easy to use pixel graphics and do nothing inspiring with it, but this title really makes the aesthetic very enjoyable. Pixels in indie games are as common as IPAs at breweries, but lots just slap on some colored dots and move on. Eagle Island joins the likes of some of the greats with its utilization of one of gaming’s greatest pastimes. The soundtrack is pretty dope too.
Overall Eagle Island is a game that I would recommend for anyone who considers themselves an indie enthusiast. It joins the many great indies to grace the Switch as one that is worth playing, however it doesn’t do enough with your time to make it one of the premiere titles in the space that isn’t lacking in content. Tons of replay potential with its roguelite mechanics, great graphics, and an interesting locale with top notch combat make for a game that will be enjoyable for most, but a lack of depth in the storytelling, some frustration with its systems, and certain mechanics feeling unpolished are detractors that will potentially give the player an itch to play similar indies that fulfill their promise.
Buy Now – $19.99
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