Islets Review thumbnail

Islets Review

A mousy Metroidvania

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a Nintendo Switch on 🐭

Islets is also available for Xbox Series X and Xbox One

Islets is rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB

Sometimes, a Metroidvania doesn't offer much new but it does everything so well that it's still a must-play so here's the excellent Islets.

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Islets screenshot 1
This looks a lot more difficult than it is

Meet Iko

Islets stars a mouse warrior named Iko who pilots an adorable airship that's probably seen better days. This chum's goal is to reunite the islands that are dotted around the sky but can the little fellow accomplish this feat? Well, that's up to you. Along the journey, you'll meet plenty of NPCs that range from delightful to nefarious and there's an impressive amount of personality injected into the story despite the lack of voice acting and expressive sprites. In fact, the minimal aesthetic is actually quite charming and I found myself thoroughly enjoying each character interaction. Overall, it's a colourful albeit simple-looking Metroidvania that makes for a nice change of pace. 😊 v1d30chumz 3-235-173-74

Iko's got moves

Most of Islets' gameplay has you control Iko on foot as you explore the handful of islands that compose the majority of the game world. Thankfully, the controls are intuitive which is great considering Iko has some fairly swanky moves. Besides running, jumping, and attacking with a sword, you can also shoot arrows that recharge after landing sword strikes and dodge-roll out of harm's way. As you progress, you'll add moves to your repertoire that'll allow you to do things like double-jump, scale walls, and ground-slam. Even though there are a lot of abilities that get added over time, you don't really have to remember much because it's all executed seamlessly. 👍

Islets screenshot 2
I smell an impending boss fight

Exploring the islands

Utilizing Iko's moves to explore the islands that compose Islets' world is a treat. Not only is it enjoyable and challenging to simply make progress, there are also a ton of secrets to discover along the way thanks to false walls and blockades that become accessible as you earn more abilities. My favourite unlockable are the upgrades which boost aspects such as your maximum arrow capacity, how much currency enemies drop, and enabling teleporters to restore health. Some of these upgrades are acquired after completing challenges such as time trials and a connect-the-dots mini-game that requires perfect precision to master. It all adds up to one satisfying formula. 😄

Charting the skies

Between Iko's island travels, you'll fly around the hub area in your ship which has its own abilities. At the start, all you can do is simply fly but once you get the airship gun, it makes flight a lot more interesting as you take on tough airborne foes and smash through obstacles. With that being said, the most interesting part of the hub area are all of the NPCs as some of them will sell you awesome swag such as stat boosts and unlockable features like marking treasures on the maps and ship upgrades. Splurging on such things is always fun. 💸

Watching it all come together

Of course, the goal of Islets is to unite the islands and once you do that by activating magnetic cores on 2 corresponding islands, it opens up both maps in ingenious ways. Specifically, the edge of one map may have had dead ends which now lead to new paths on the other map. This is such a wonderful way to craft a game world and it makes exploration feel fresh and exciting. 🗺️

On the other hand, some segments can be a chore to navigate again and again, especially when you keep perishing in a long stretch of super-tough platforming and combat. My only other complaint is that I wish the core gameplay did more to help set it apart from similar games. There are loads of Metroidvanias to play and a lot of them blend together so Islets could definitely use more unique features.

Islets screenshot 3
The Mecha-Rat is about to get exterminated

Islets keeps things simple with its Metroidvania formula yet it accomplishes its satisfying gameplay so exceptionally well that it's hard to stop playing it once you start. Plus, watching the islands come together has to be one of the most rewarding mechanics in the genre.

  • + Enjoyable and intuitive gameplay with satisfying moves and combat
  • + Flight segments help break up the pace
  • + Loads of secrets and upgrades to uncover
  • - Core gameplay could use more to make it stand out from similar games
  • - Some areas get repetitive
8.2 out of 10
Gameplay video for Islets thumbnail
Watch A.J. play Islets
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