Islands, particularly deserted ones, are often portrayed as being these paradise wonderlands that are smack in the middle of beautiful azure waters and have all the necessary resources for survival in ideal conditions. I was born in a nation of islands and have lived here most of my life, and I can promise you that it’s not nearly as amazing as media has made it out to be. But at times, it actually can be quite tranquil and mesmerizingly soothing. It’s this atmosphere of peace and escapism that Islanders seeks to replicate on Nintendo Switch by means of its clean-cut, low-poly aesthetic and subdued, ambient soundtrack. Truly, it does a good job at it, too.
Islanders is one of those titles that started off as a mobile release and has been ported to consoles seemingly for the sake of it. Thankfully, it doesn’t feel like an outlier, nor does it feel like it’s simply been shoehorned onto the Switch eShop. If anything, it feels right at home with its pick-up-and-play style of gameplay being quite fitting for the hybrid system.
The objective is simple. When you start a session, you’re given a freshly procedurally generated island to peacefully conquer. That is — you’re building a city over the land. Every island is different; some are more tropical and have swaths of greenery and beaches. Others are more rocky and a little more barren. They’re all different shapes and sizes and thus have different amounts of usable landscape for building purposes. You’re given a random set of structures to choose from, such as a farm set and a city set. Buildings in each set complement one another. For example, fields in the farm set benefit from being right next to a windmill as well as other fields. Some structures from other sets will also have a positive effect on other structures, like a fisherman’s cabin benefiting from being in the vicinity of houses from the city set.
On the flip side, some structures can have negative effects on each other. For example, having two fisherman’s cabins right next to each other is not efficient. All of these positive and negative “effects” are displayed as points. Before you place a new structure down, you’re shown how many points you’ll be awarded. Sometimes, shifting it one tile over can net you a solid amount of extra points. So, just like in the real world, the phrase “Location! Location! Location!” is very important here in Islanders.
You’ll need to accumulate a certain number of points to keep the session moving along. If you fail to get the number of required points, the session will end and you will have to start again. The overall goal is to efficiently build up as many islands as possible in a single session.
Despite your having that consistent objective, you can always just ditch the “work” aspect of this whole thing entirely and play in sandbox mode. That allows you to go full-zen and simply enjoy the calm and cool atmosphere that Islanders on Nintendo Switch has to offer, building up your islands as you see fit.
Since there is never really much of a penalty or huge reward for anything that you do, Islanders for Nintendo Switch is definitely a more easygoing tycoon-like title. It doesn’t require the full set of strategy skills that a more complex tycoon title like Cities: Skylines does. So, though it shares similar mechanics, they’re extremely streamlined here. Thus, Islanders is best suited for those chill-out moments that allow you to simply get lost in a mood and clear out your mind while you pass the time.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Islanders was provided by the publisher.