I have a soft spot for farming simulators a mile wide. Merely give me a grid of soil and a choice of seeds to nurture into healthier veggies, and I’m sold on what ever else is constructed on leading. Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands from Lemonbomb Entertainment bills itself as an “open planet exploration farming adventure,” which is each a mouthful and a mountain of style components to balance. Fortunately, the 5-individual group of German developers have largely succeeded, delivering an endearing game complete of relaxing maritime agriculture.
On initially blush, Stranded Sails appears connected to Nintendo’s late-90s slate of action platformers and RPGs — the colors are vibrant and the character models are bouncy collections of sharp polygons. The relatively close isometric camera centers the action on a silent protagonist as they join their father and a crew of tradespeople aboard a ship bound for a nameless new land complete of chance. But the game under no circumstances offers these would-be colonists a opportunity to start off a new life as a sudden storm dashes the ship against the islands of a mysterious archipelago.
Survival is now the key objective, and performing something on the islands expenses some of your character’s finite power. Managing that regularly dwindling resource will motivate practically just about every action you take in Stranded Sails, as the only way to leading off your bar is via sleep or filling your belly. As it so takes place, a single of your crew is a farmer, and she has located a beautiful plot of fertile land upon which to start off a camp. Gardners, strap on your gloves.
When basically walking across a sandbar quickly siphons away stamina, your potential to discover early on will be restricted by the type of meals you can cook. Which is, in turn, restricted by the availability of crops, fish and spices. The core mechanical conceit reveals itself early: time and work invested in expanding your garden straight rewards how far afield you can roam ahead of returning to restock supplies. A resourceful adventurer will prepare ahead, stuffing their knapsack with only their most filling island cuisine.
In practice, these interlocking systems make a satisfying feeling of gradual progression. Each trip beyond the security of the campfire and cookpot saw me collecting new seeds or rescuing yet another crew member who could supply me a important tool for progressing additional. Back at the makeshift farm I could whip up a stew that not only supplied a good buff but endeared the other castaways to me. Friendly tradesfolk provided camp upgrades or a bigger lunch pail. It pays to preserve bellies complete.
Out in the wilderness, you will locate sources in the kind of naturally expanding wood and veggies, or else valuable debris washed upon the shore. What you will not locate are beasties, monsters, or other aggressive enemies: Stranded Sails is largely a non-combat game. Although ancient ruins and scraps of lore point to an expanded lore behind life on these islands, your initially quite a few hours consist solely of exploring lush landscapes and reconnecting the crew lost in the shipwreck.
Lemonbomb did a superb job of producing a beautiful collection of islands that under no circumstances really feel like they reuse assets. A single is a craggy collection of bare beaches and exposed rock that protects a verdant jungle on the rainward side, when yet another evokes mangroves sprawled across shallows and sandbars. Even the ocean shows off a very carefully thought of beauty at the identical time it tends to make you really feel extremely, extremely smaller in a quaint rowboat. The art path is a salve on the continual retreading in Stranded Sails, as none of the islands are completely accessible the initially time you make landfall. Irrespective of whether sheer distance wears you down or progression needs a sophisticated tool, some components will stay just out of attain till later.
At a particular point a handful of hours in, I wondered why I was throwing myself into the sea time and once more when everybody else stayed back at camp. My father, critically injured at the starting, was the only a single with a valid excuse. Then, I returned to camp and noticed new decorations on the shacks I had supplied everybody. And somebody had fashioned a table and chairs out of flotsam close to the campfire. A lot more of these homey touches appeared as the story progressed, lending life to the makeshift camp that evoked a stronger emotional reaction from me than I had anticipated.
When I pointed out earlier that Stranded Sails was a non-combat game, that was partially a lie. You will have to have to dispatch a particular type of enemy late in the game for story-important quests, but the whole program feels disconnected like practically nothing else in the game. By displaying up late and sparingly, it lacks the depth and refinement of even fishing and could have simply been replaced with light puzzle-solving for the identical impact. The combat is not negative, per se, but I was disappointed as quickly as the game instructed me to locate the scattered bits of a weapon. I was obtaining lots of enjoyable watering potatoes and traipsing via cave systems.
The only other complaint match to lob at Stranded Sails comes from my aggravation with discovering new recipes. In spite of obtaining a educated chef in camp, you have to throw components at a pot till one thing edible cooks out the other side. At times this is intuitive (corn plus tomato equals corn-stuffed tomato) other folks call for mixing and matching till the recipe screen delivers green checkmarks for every appropriate ingredient in the matrix of possibilities. With no hints or tips to guide me, I frequently resorted to plugging away at just about every attainable permutation till brute force awarded me with thyme-rubbed mackerel and pumpkin chunks. It is not intuitive and much less enjoyable with every further attainable ingredient.
All round, Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands delivered every thing I wanted from a farming simulator when also nailing the “open planet adventure” section of their description salad. The key narrative is not complicated, but its characters supply sufficient verve and earnest emotion to make up the distinction. If you want a relaxing game that requires a clever strategy to delivering a progressively unfurling planet of stunning polygons, it is nicely worth searching previous the handful of rough edges.
[Reviewed on PC]