If you've ever wanted to play a city management sim but with all of the complications stripped out then here's the intuitive Islanders.
Islanders: Console Edition is probably the simplest city-building simulation game that I've ever played. The concept is that you place buildings which have unique rules that dictate how many points you get after placing them. For example, if you place a lumberjack (I'm not sure that's an actual building but that's what it's called here) next to a bunch of trees then you'll get more points than if you place it on its own in the middle of nowhere. There are many kinds of buildings with their own rules so the challenge relies on your ability to place the buildings in optimal spots which isn't a difficult thing to do in the slightest. One thing I find funny is that people who live in houses love the circus while mansion-dwelling folks love jewelry but if you place a circus near the latter, you'll lose points. So, you're essentially rewarded for physically separating the social classes. Whether that's intentional or an oversight, I think it's hilarious either way.
On a presentational level, Islanders looks good with its distinct island themes and cute little buildings. However, as I rotated, panned, and zoomed the camera, I couldn't help but feel lonely because there are no people to oversee; just minimally-animated buildings. On the plus side, I dug the relaxing music track and it made me so sleepy that I needed to take a quick nap after listening to it for so long.
One thing that Islanders: Console Edition does that's quite clever is its scoring system. Not only does achieving higher scores allow you to rank on the leaderboard, it's also used to grant you additional buildings at certain thresholds and if you run out of buildings but can't make the next threshold, it's game over. Also, when you fill up the next island gauge, you can move on with your score intact so trying to get the highest score possible before continuing the campaign can be pretty fun. That is; as long as you don't accidentally mess up.
With all of that being said, the gameplay thoroughly made me exhausted after playing for only half an hour or so. Starting new islands became less of a treat and more of a chore and I found my eyelids getting heavy as I placed the same familiar buildings over and over again. I wish more strategy was required because as it is, I didn't find it all that rewarding even when I had a particularly fruitful run.
Finally, there are some truly odd placement rules for buildings. Sometimes, a large structure seems to be able to fit somewhere but you won't be able to place it there no matter how you position or rotate it. Other times, you can place big things into the side of a cliff then not even be able to see it after you confirm. It doesn't make sense and on top of that, it can get frustrating, especially when you plan ahead while leaving room for a particular building then be unable to actually place it where you wanted to. I don't get it. 🤔
Not everyone will appreciate the mind-numbing effect that comes with playing Islanders: Console Edition but if you're in the market for a game that'll put you to sleep then I recommend checking it out. Those looking for a challenge won't find one here, though.
- + Relaxing gameplay with nifty scoring that's easy to master without much effort
- + The islands are pretty cute
- + Chill music will put you to sleep
- - It's a bit too simple and repetitive and not much strategy is required
- - Could use more lively animation
- - Inconsistent placement rules