Review: Islanders – Console Edition
If the complexity of SimCity or Cities: Skylines has put you off dipping your toes into “world building” games, then Islanders is the gentle (and addictive) introduction to the genre that you’ve been waiting for.
Dropping you into your 1st random scenario (a series of small colourful islands) with little introduction other than having to choose which of 2 types of buildings packs you want to start placing around the given real estate, you are left to your own devices as to how to craft your world.
Each building is worth a set amount of points, with bonus points added for their proximity to other related buildings, landmarks and natural flora and fauna, or with points taken away if they clash with what is already around them.
With limited space to play with, it can often be like playing chess; thinking a few moves ahead (and hoping the next random choice of buildings to choose from includes what you want) and sometimes deliberately losing points so that your next moves can gain a higher bonus.
Each island has an initial score to reach before the next procedurally generated island become available for you to build on, though once that score has been reached you can keep building on an island until there is no more room on it before moving on to the next one. With each island becoming progressively bigger and with more items to choose from.
If you don’t reach the target score with the amounts of buildings you’re allowed, then it’s game over and you begin again.
The more you play, the more it becomes apparent about not only where the best places to put specific buildings are, but also about how best to plan ahead and leave gaps for other structures. Often leaving you on edge waiting for a specific building pack to be offered and a new high score within your reach…much like playing Scrabble and waiting to draw 1 specific letter to give you a 7 letter word.
Building packs can also throw you a curve ball, as they often contain a few random buildings not specific to their main theme. So when picking a lumberjack pack because you want some sawmills for all those trees on your island, it could also include a couple of houses that you’ve been trying to avoid. This throws in a random element of luck which could put a spanner into your well thought out plans.
After a while the 1st few islands become a breeze to complete as the scoring system and gameplay mechanics become second nature to you, leading to you rushing through these quickly to get to the later more complex islands. Though the soothing music and pleasing visuals help to stop boredom kicking in.
Loaded with “just one more go” appeal and at a very friendly price point (currently £4.19 on Xbox), Islanders is one of those games that you fire up for a quick 10 minute session, but very often find yourself still on it hours later.
A fun, challenging (especially with the high score table popping up after every play through) and very enjoyable experience.
Review by Dave from an Xbox review code.