There is a certain mystery and dark fantasy about stranding on an island. From Gilligan’s Island to Tomb Raider and Lost to Pirates of the Caribbean, we find ways to turn this situation into adventure, action and more. Explorers of the Cursed Islands for Nintendo Switch takes us on the same journey, combining farming, cooking, building and lots of exploration. Will he be stuck in a fascinating atmosphere on this island, or will he dry out in the sun after a few hours of play?
After you have sailed with your father, you find yourself in a rough sea and try to steer the ship with the rest of the crew. One minute everything turns black, the next you’re stranded on an island. As you gather your thoughts, you will notice that part of the crew has arrived with you, and then you will set up the base camp early in the morning to try to survive and rescue other survivors.
By immersing yourself in the adventure, you begin to learn basic things like. B. Plant crops for food and cut down trees to make planks to build cabins for the crew members you brought to the main island. The game does a decent enough job of getting you addicted to recovery quest style mechanisms, but even after a few hours of play, I was still making a version of each recovery quest. Unlike games like My Time at Portia or even the traditional Harvest Moon, which set higher goals allowing free play and deflection, my time at Wandering Sails has never brought me the same joy. For each objective I was given, the way to achieve it was quite simple and accessible, and it didn’t really offer any improvisation possibilities.
Before I continue, I must mention here that my playing time with this game was abruptly interrupted a few hours later. I was doing a quest that dropped the quest, but before I could get back to it, I quit. After I went back and reloaded my Switch, the quest was gone, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it back, and the game didn’t progress. I had to start the game over and over again, so I completely admit that I didn’t manage to play this title in its entirety.
Now, as with the other farm adventures I’ve talked about, there are a few important mechanisms that have an impact here. You have an endurance meter that tells you how much you can do on a certain day. Walking, running, planting, paddling, etc. – They all require stamina, and I personally felt I was going at an aggressive pace. Often I could barely dig a few holes before I had to run back to the remains of the ship and get some sleep. However, gambling constantly encourages you to counter this problem by bringing a large amount of food, which… The kitchen!
In Wandering Sails, the kitchen plays a crucial role, even in the beginning. You harvest and then go to the kettle to cook a few ingredients to replenish your energy while you’re out for the day or exploring the surrounding islands. Cooking, however, is a real challenge if you haven’t found a recipe yet. When collecting the ingredients, question marks appear in the kitchen menu indicating that a new recipe can be found. However, this mini-discovery game is completely mind-numbing and, frankly, very annoying. For each undiscovered recipe, place the ingredients in the empty boxes. If the game allowed me to just christen them, and if I had the right ingredients, I knew what the new recipe was, then this system would be somewhat acceptable. However, this game complicates things even more by forcing you to place the ingredient in the right place. Using a few icons (which I had to look for in the help menu) it tries to point you in the right direction, but I swear I’ve seen more mistakes here, because ingredients that were supposed to work suddenly seem unnecessary if I change something to do other experiments. Again, it was just an exciting experience for me, but the game depends heavily on it, so you have to unlock these recipes to better build up your food resistance.
In addition, you must also become the sole leader of your entire team! This means we have to try to find ingredients that resemble each other and throw them into a giant jar so that everyone can share them. If you do it right, you’ll get a very strong increase in stamina that will definitely help you on some of the long rides you’ll have to do.
If you can explore the islands on your own with provisions, there is not much to see if you are not actively searching. Unlike Stardew Valley, there are only random boxes or barrels here with excessive interaction. This is another incentive to stick to the exact research you need to work on.
There is usually a very good dialogue, relationships and intrigue in this genre because of the way these games are constructed. Stranded Sails does have a history and relational peculiarities, but I found the style of writing rather clumsy, perhaps due to the English localization? A perfect example of how you and your father (the captain of the ship) talk. He will explicitly and more often than appropriately call you My Child, in the sense that he calls you that at the beginning of almost every sentence. You, on the other hand, address him by his first name in the dialogue. The interaction with the rest of the cast gives way to equally tricky and superficial conversations, with some characters trying to elevate the personality a little more than others, but overall, the dialogue and overall plot are flat compared to almost every other farm-simulator I’ve played.
Although the dialogue can be a bit awkward, the game is visually appealing and aesthetically pleasing. I had no problems with the performance in portable mode, and the medium/low polygon count style with bright colors was relaxing and definitely fun to see stuck in an archipelago.
I had mixed feelings, too. Although the stock management and quick selection system was quite skilful and worked well for the most part, I found some persistent annoyances that made it not perfect. For example, I want my hotkey to stay on the last item I called, which in most cases was a card. I thought I often had to rely on the map because for some reason the game didn’t have a compass on the user interface, but often the quests told you to go east of the shipwreck or something. This led me to sail blindly in my rowing boat, stopping often and looking at the map to see if I was even going in the right direction on the open sea.
Since I’ve been working with Flat Gel, these kinds of inconveniences and deviations from the agricultural simulation formula, which generally works well in other games, have given me a general lack of experience. One of the most important key elements of this type is self-knowledge and personal responsibility. In this area, too, the game fell flat, instead of relying on searches to get me from point A to point B. The theme is definitely there, and the idea of expanding and growing the community on an uninhabited island is great, but the execution seems simply shiatty. You might want to buy one of the other games mentioned in this magazine.
Sailing – Discovery of the Cursed Islands Overview
- Graphs – 6.5/10
- Sound – 5/10
- Gameplay – 4.5/10
- Late complaint – 4/10
Final thoughts: MEDIOCR
A simulator of agricultural adventures in a desert archipelago is certainly of great importance. The environment is conducive to exploration, discovery and intelligent mechanics. However, almost every department doesn’t have the smallest sail. Heavy overuse of the complicated firing mechanisms and other problems have prevented the game from achieving the quality of immersion required by such games.
Alex has been involved in the gaming industry since Nintendo’s release. He has turned his hobby into a career, has been developing games for just over ten years and is now creative director of the studio.
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