Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

[Review] Islanders – Nintendo Switch


Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Grizzly Games
Published By: Coatsink Software
Category: Strategy, Sandbox
Release Date: 8.11.21
Composer: Friedemann Allmenröder

Islanders is a super-chill city-building puzzle game. It’s hard to find a lot more to say about the game than that – and I swear I don’t mean that as an insult. Islanders’ entire game design – from graphics to music to gameplay – is deceptively minimalist. But when combined, these simple elements form something both wonderfully relaxing and completely engaging. It’s the perfect game to boot up and unwind with after a long day.


Place Structures, Build Cities

Islanders has two gameplay modes – sandbox and highscore mode. Sandbox just plops you down on a random island and lets you place as many buildings as you want wherever you want. Highscore mode is the more interesting of the two – for me, anyway.

Each highscore run starts on an empty island. You are given a building pack, which contains a few buildings to place. Placing buildings generates points. Some building generate points simply by being placed, but not all. Every building, however, has a list of buildings or resources that either grant or deduct additional points. For instance, placing a lumberjack hut near a sawmill or trees generates extra points. Trying to maneuver buildings around to put as many point-boosting structures within range of each new building became an obsession. These points are added to a running total, and every time that total hits certain milestones an additional building pack is granted. Gaining points also fills in a meter that leads to a new island to develop.


The End Is Only A New Beginning

The idea is to keep placing buildings and gaining new packs until you can’t hit the next milestone. At that point, you can move to the next island – assuming you’ve filled that meter, of course – and begin again. If you haven’t accumulated enough points to move to another island, it’s game over. You can choose to upload your score to the game’s leaderboards and see how you measure up, or just restart. I have to tell you, after the massively difficult challenge that was Eldest Souls, it felt really good to play a game that didn’t make a big deal about game overs. Between the deceptive simplicity of the gameplay and the low-pressure environment the game builds, Islanders became a very comforting and enjoyable experience pretty much from the get-go.


Chill Out On The Islands

The graphics and music of Islanders are, like the rest of the game, fairly simple but nonetheless enjoyable. The graphics are colorful, inviting, and bright – even in the islands with darker color schemes. Overall, the aesthetic is clean and relaxing. The music is similarly chill. The soundtrack is very gentle, thoughtful, and quiet. It’s a soundtrack that would be the perfect accompaniment to a great nap.


Loving the Islanders Life

Islanders is an awesome game to relax and play. Unlike most city builders, it doesn’t require the memorization of hyper-detailed tech trees. Frankly, I didn’t much care for sandbox mode – it really didn’t appeal to me. Highscore mode, though, I loved. It’s like Civilization and Tetris had a baby, and it got way into meditation when it grew up. The game looks great and plays so smoothly it almost hurts to look for flaws – but it is fairly shallow, overall. While the gameplay in highscore mode can be addictive in short bursts, it got repetitive after a few hours. But for short play sessions, I can’t recommend Islanders enough.


Digital – $4.99

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The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.

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