Excuse the caps, but that is how they spell the game’s title: ISLANDERS. In case you’ve read my post about the summer sales and which games interest me: ISLANDERS (okay, I’ll stop the caps now) has not just caught my attention, it’s also made me buy it and fall in love with it!
It really is a puzzle game and not a citybuilder. If you still want to build a pretty town on one of these islands, it has a sandbox mode where you can do just that. I started it, but to be honest, this game mode was too boring for me. The actual game is much more interesting: You get placed on an island and get a building pack or get to choose one out of two packs with buildings to place. Once you’ve accumulated a certain amount of points, you will get another choice between two building packs. Sometimes, you also just get one building pack. The buildings end up in a bar at the bottom of the screen. You can freely move the camera and rotate the buildings to place them exactly where you want them to be. On the right of the screen, there’s an image of an island that slowly fills up (either with points or with the amount of buildings you’ve placed – I haven’t paid much attention to how exactly it fills up). When you don’t have any more buildings to place (because you put them all on the island but haven’t gotten enough points to get another building pack), you get to the next island only if the island on the right has filled up already. If it hasn’t filled up, it’s game over and you can start from fresh on another empty island again.
Accumulating points is where the puzzle part comes in. You have a statue in the beginning that quite often gives bonus points to other buildings you place nearby. Each building lists in its tooltip if you get any base points for placing it (the buildings sometimes have negative points, so you’ll lose points if you place the building without bonuses) and then it’ll also tell you which other buildings and items in its vicinity will give you bonus points or point deductions.
That’s basically all there is. The islands are randomly generated, so every island is different than the one before. I once had one very small island consisting mostly of rocks (it can be seen in the gallery above this paragraph). I got lots of plateaus in my building packs on that island to make up for the missing land mass. It did take me a while, though, to realize that some plateaus allow you to place fields for farms on them and others don’t. So again, placing the plateaus together in a strategic way may be a smart choice… much better than only choosing the position that gives you the most points immediately. Place the items in a good way now, get much higher bonus points later on. You can take your time deciding, because time is not a factor at all in this game.
One thing I would love to have: Daily highscores! As it is, I can challenge my own highscore only which is also placed on an overall global leaderboard. But having a daily leaderboard would add something more. I sometimes have a really good run and get a nice amount of points, but it’s still not where my overall highscore is, so it’s basically useless. A daily one would be nice to see where I am compared to other players that day. A bit like Mini Metro does it with their daily city challenge.
You can start the game, play a bit, leave again and return later to continue building on your island. It’s very casual in that way. The developers, GrizzlyGames, are a German indie developer team. You may know them from Superflight, the first game they made (or published on Steam, at least). Islanders costs 4.99 € when it’s not on sale. I have already played it for 5 hours, so even at this regular price, it would have been worth it (by my own definition of one hour played per one Euro paid).
My personal verdict is: If you like such puzzle games and if you like this take on a citybuilding game, then you can’t do anything wrong with Islanders, especially when you get it while it’s on sale!