Name: Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands
Developer: Lemonbomb Entertainment
Publisher: Merge Games / rokaplay
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided by a publisher for review purpose
In the moment of requesting a review key for Stranded Sails, I was expecting a Farmingville clone who might be taken over the throne as a time drifter game. But I didn’t expect to experience a journey of mysterious adventure.
At first, the story begins like many other stories, you create your character, I’m joking. But at first, the story begins really familiar to the stories such as Cast Away, Robinson Crusoe or maybe Lords of the Flies?
Along with our father and crew, we get shipwrecked on a desert island, short on food and supplies, we as the player takes charge of the survivors as our father the captain is gravely injured. Our goal is to locate the missing crew members and then build a new ship to leave this island but to reach that goal we have to encounter the difficulties of providing enough food to ourselves and the crew, and also survive the mystery of the curse that lays on the island.
Stranded Sails might seem like a small indie title with limited features and graphics and lack of voice acting. But even with the limited features, the story is engaging enough to keep me wanted to play further and explore. Yes I know, I usually don’t like the way the story is presented, with text bubbles/boxes as the only way of communicating. I just can’t lose the feeling that it suits the setting of this title, with everything from gameplay to art direction.
The only thing I want to complain about is that the story could have been “dragged” out, even more, to keep it more interesting, or maybe that’s the sequel about? (hint-hint)
For a title as Stranded Sails, it’s difficult to talk about the graphics. The goal isn’t to be as photorealistic as possible, so we have to look at the art direction of the title to determine our score. But that isn’t easy either, because we have to try to understand what the developers tries to show us in their way of art creation.
But I can say that the textures, or colors in this title are bright and colorful. Every time I boot up the game and see all the different colors I feel like a small kid again who loves pirates and searching for treasures. I actually get flashbacks to the time I was really into Captain Sabertooth (who is a long-time running fiction character here in Norway), and that brought me even more joy.
The character builds are easy, but the various characters have their own identity. The same goes for environmental objects such as plants and food. I do love the overall graphics and the music that applies, music who brings back memories of pirate movies and childhood games, making me yelling Captain Jack Sparrow and Ship Ahoy!
Sadly not everything is perfect, there are a few rough edges that completely ruin the flow, such as the water hits the beach. And there are some objects that my character gets stuck at, so I’ve had to wait until my character faints so I can keep going again. (Some of the addressed issues are being updated in a future patch.)
The gameplay is fairly simple and basic, the only advanced thing you’ll notice is that you have an energy meter you’ll have to keep an eye on, you can replenish the energy meeter by either eating or go to sleep. Luckily the game doesn’t punish us that much by running out of energy, as we just faint and respawn at our camp, it is annoying if you want to explore the islands early on.
Other than that the game offers a few features such as organizing and maintaining a garden, fishing, discovering food recipes, making a stew to your crew members which increases your popularity with the crew members, who then will improve your tools as a reward. There is also basic combat with one attack button which we use to defeat the ghostly pirates around the islands, as well as basic building mechanics where we have to gather resources to build the already finished blueprints of the various houses, bridges, ladders etc which is pre-set on location.
Even with the simple mechanics, the game is addictive and entertaining, especially if you just want to play something to relax. The energy drains a bit fast and might be a bit annoying in the long run, but other than that the gameplay is enjoyable. The reason for the low score in this section is because of the basic features, as it is really basic and becomes repetitive really fast. Discovering the mysterious story on the island is what kept me wanted to play further.
At first, the control schematic was a bit confusing as I didn’t understand how to go through the quick menu at first. But once I figure that out it was really easy to use. Other than that, the controls are extremely easy to learn and use. I encountered no delay or lack of response time in the controls and would say that the developers have nailed the smoothness of the controls.
Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Curses Islands offers a lot of replay value in your first playthrough. As you have to grind for resources such as wood, fish, vegetables etc to stay alive and increase your popularity. But once I finished the story I felt like I’ve played everything the game has to offer and didn’t feel like for another run. The only replay value I see once you finished it, is if you want to do it all over again just for a time drifter game.
Story - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Gameplay - 6/10
Controls - 9/10
Replay Value - 6/10
User Review( votes)
Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Curses Islands is a fairly and easy game with basic gameplay mechanics. The colorful art direction and music brought me childhood flashbacks which made this game even more fun to play. The mysterious islands have a lot to offer storywise, but the basic gameplay holds the experience back a bit.
- Intriguing story
- Simple but entertaining gameplay features
- Childhood nostalgia (Pirates)
- Energy bar drains a bit fast
- The basic gameplay mechanics hold the experience back
- Low replay value