In a world of trophies, achievements, and multiple endings, some times you want… no, you need to put those games aside and play something relaxing. Something that doesn’t have you fretting whether or not you made the right decision or need to reload a previous save. That’s where Islanders: Console Edition comes in. Available for the Nintendo Switch, Islanders is the perfect low stress game for relaxing. My week’s worth of research proves it’s best played in your most comfortable chair with a cup of your favorite beverage
Islanders has two modes: Highscore or Sandbox. I plunged headfirst into Highscore Mode. The aim of it is to use the building packs provided to hit the target score. You have to place the structures and farm plots strategically to gain as many points as possible. As you hit each target, new pack options open up. If you use your imaginary civil engineering degree properly, the island in the bottom right corner will color itself in. Then you can pick up and move to a new, randomly-generated island to continue chasing that high score. Fail to earn enough points by the time you plunk down that final item in your pack and it’s game over. The highest score I’ve hit to date ranked me somewhere in the 600 range. Not too shabby, but I know I can do better.
Sandbox mode is a great way to become familiar with all of the buildings and plots bundled together. While there are no points to earn here, I learned why I shouldn’t take mining packs if the island I’m on has no exposed granite. There’s much more freedom to create the ultimate oasis, too. On one island I went a little housing crazy. I tried my hand at developing a couple of neighborhoods, complete with park spaces. Larger houses and parks seem to be randomly generated, so you might not always get a set piece to match what you’re building. Don’t let that stop you; variety is the spice of life. And design. Pretty sure someone put that on a poster once.
Unfortunately the controls aren’t quite as precise as I’d like them to be in Islanders on the Switch. It can be fairly difficult to perfectly line up your buildings and plots. The analog sticks feel a little loose for a building game, regardless of whether someone is playing handheld mode or while docked. It’s not terrible, but not friendly for people who want things incredibly precise either. An update might do the trick, should Grizzly Games think it worth the investment.
The save issue is also a bit of a touchy subject for me. Saving the game only holds your progress for your current island, whether that be in Highscore or Sandbox mode. As soon as you leave the sandbox to take another stab at besting your previous scored rank, the sandbox island you’ve spent hours crafting is lost to the ocean.
Islanders: Console Edition also scratches that urge to squeeze in a quick ten or fifteen minute game session. Easy to grasp gameplay mechanics and a really chill soundtrack make this game accessible for people of all levels. And honestly, writing about it makes me want to sneak in a round of Highscore mode right now. Darn it. I only got 833 points that time. Picking all of those housing packs one after another was probably not my best move.
Islanders: Console Edition is currently available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation systems, and Xbox systems. You can also find it on the PC.