Building from nothing and designing something from just your imagination is a compulsion that is set in us as children. As toddlers, we would be found building cities out of cardboard boxes or designing worlds under stairwells, eventually moving to the wonderful world of LEGO. We would name the building, build the roads, dam the rivers and then destroy it all and start again. It’s no coincidence then that Sim City type games have always proved highly popular in the gaming market. ISLANDERS is another addition to this ever-growing collection of games and it aims to mix sim building with a high scoring system that is arcade heavy rather than detailed in the sim aspect. Let us build.
ISLANDERS started life on the Nintendo Switch and PC before coming over to Xbox after being critically acclaimed. This Console Edition is best described as being a minimalist strategy game where you build cities on beautiful islands. Yet there are just two modes to involve yourself in: Sandbox, where you can build cities to your heart’s content on an infinite bunch of procedurally generated islands; and High Score which we will talk about now because it describes the true essence of the game and what it’s all about.
You start ISLANDERS: Console Edition on a level one island. This could be a rocky island, a tree-covered island, or an island with many small satellites nearby. It’s randomly generated every time you play but each and every time you will find a score at the bottom of the screen with set points that you have to achieve. For example 20 points is the first target. How do you get points? Well, that’s simple – build, my friend, build.
This is a relaxing sim game, one without all the micromanagement or dealing with money and jobs. What you get is a choice of two packs to build with. You could choose between a lumber pack, which might include a sawmill and a lumber mill. You might get a brewers pack which includes some hop fields and a brewery. Later on, you’ll get access to a city pack which will have a city centre, some houses, and mansions. Now the aim of the game is to place these packs around the map where you see fit, looking for the best places and optimum combinations whereby you are awarded points. For example, placing a lumber mill next to some trees will get more points; building houses next to the city centre will earn you success. On the other side, too many sawmills in one area will affect your growth.
ISLANDERS is all about earning points, and as you move to further stages of islands, the targets go up. If you fail to achieve a set target when you run out of your two packs, then it’s game over man; your score loaded onto a leaderboard and you left to start again from scratch. If you carry on you achieving your targets, at some point you gain access to a second island to build on, then a third and so on. It’s very addictive and completely relaxing.
If you don’t want any of the pressure associated with target hitting then there is of course the Sandbox mode where you can build away without hassle; all the packs and buildings unlocked. Personally, I’ve preferred to spend my time working towards targets, but that’s because I need purpose to my games. Others however may find that the open sandbox is more to their liking.
Visually and ISLANDERS: Console Edition is an absolute pleasure, very much reminding of the recently released art of rally; gorgeous yet with minimal design. with a lovely colour palette that is a feast on the eyes. The islands themselves work well too – a nice blend of different environments – whilst the building packs are great. The entirety of the game revolves around such a simple premise, but it is executed extremely well, presented neatly both in-game and through the menu system. As you’d expect from such an experience, the soundtrack also needs to be a perfectly relaxing chill-out vibe and the audio completely delivers the mood. Throw in some satisfying pings and effects to guide you through the game, and it’s all lovely stuff..
ISLANDERS: Console Edition is something that is able to deliver a relaxing city experience without the stress of deep management, finances, and dealing with unhappy residents. It’s a game that is great to pick up for a quick bash, finding the minutes turning into hours. It’s well priced too and the low outlay works as a brilliant incentive to those looking to take a gamble.
Should you fancy yourself as a master builder then ISLANDERS: Console Edition is going to be perfect for you.
Get building with ISLANDERS: Console Edition from the Xbox Store