Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Game Review - The Island: Castaway

Game Review - The Island: Castaway and The Island: Castaway 2

Score +3/-2

These games are linear stories with sidequests in which you further the plot or side stories by doing tasks for others. There is really no way to screw it up, so the whole premise of the game is to immerse you in the story by engaging you with tasks to advance the plot. In this way, you feel like you are part of the action when, in fact, you are just picking fruit or growing vegetables, or the like. Not too much different from a first person shooter with cutscenes and plot points, just a different set of repetitive actions.

They are similar to Wandering Willows, but less tedious to navigate because the action is zoomed out much more, you move quickly, and you can click on quest-giving characters to automatically path-find your way there. It is also similar to games like Virtual Villagers, but with a lot less micromanagement since you only control one protagonist and you don't have to worry about anyone dying of old age.

In the first game, The Island: Castaway, you come to the island after some sort of calamity has befallen it, and you are introduced to mystical happenings and superstitious natives. As you progress through the story, you begin to piece together the backstory, but it is not until the second game, The Island: Castaway 2, that we go back in time to play through the backstory and the full as well as the motivations of some of the villagers, is revealed.

If you like the gameplay and the storytelling, both games set up a third story, yet to be published.

+ The story is intriguing and interesting to uncover.
+ The pace of the game is very fast. Although some tasks require more work than others, there are things you can get to do tasks faster, and the overall pace through which you move through the plot points keeps the game engaging.
+ The characters you encounter are quite interesting, each with a distinct personality.
- The gameplay is a bit too easy. If you are looking for a more relaxed game where you can focus on plot-advancing actions or miscellaneous challenges (such as collecting all the seashells and bugs in The Island: Castaway 2), then this is not really a drawback.
- Some things are clearly implausible. For example, at one point the survivors run out of drinking water -- But there are hundreds of fruit and coconuts that can be harvested from the island. And no one actually goes to get the water later. It is also frustrating that sometimes you are railroaded into a specific action because there are no alternate solutions.

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