Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands – Review

Stranded Sails is a game where you are trying to set off for a new life but along the way you get shipwrecked. Your ship gets destroyed and you are left to put the pieces back together. Early on you need to try and track down the rest of your crew to see whether they survived the collision and then after that it is your job to build a camp, your home away from home. Once that is started you start to explore the island you landed on to try and get a better understanding of the situation as you gain supplies for back at camp. You eventually get a fishing pole so that you can fish and provide food to your group that way, a shovel so that you can dig and then plant seeds at camp so that you have a small farm growing that will produce more food for everyone, a bucket so that you can water these crops and more. You’ll eventually get a weapon too as you aren’t alone on the island. Overall it is an enjoyable adventure that has some annoying mechanics.

The most annoying mechanic in Stranded Sails is by far the energy mechanic. There is a meter at the top of the screen that displays how much energy you have and pretty much everything costs energy. Your energy also doubles as your health in the game so it is a bit of a double whammy in that regard. This is something that you need to closely monitor throughout the game or you won’t get very far. Walking and/or running will exert energy. If you are digging a hole to plant seeds to expand your farm, that takes energy. Fishing and trying to reel in a fish takes energy. If you are in combat with an enemy and get hit, your energy can drop real quick since it doubles your health as I mentioned above. The only way to really get your energy back is to eat food or sleep. This can be problematic and it frustrated me throughout my time with the game because it didn’t allow me to play the game the way I wanted to play. I’m a person that likes to explore the environment, find collectibles, and basically just see what I can do in the world. This energy mechanic doesn’t really allow me to do that too much, especially early on in the game. When you get to the later part of your adventure you should have recipes you can make for food that can have your energy last longer, however, the whole mechanic is needlessly bothersome. There were times where I was deep in an island trying to explore and potentially battle enemies and my energy would simply run out. When that happens you collapse and then wake up next to your bed at your camp. That is enormously frustrating when I was so close to achieving a goal but then I was kicked back to camp so now I have to take another boat to that island I was on and get back to where I was. During combat it could also be super annoying when my guy would collapse not because I got hit by the enemy but because my guy was too tired. In my opinion, Stranded Sails could have been a much better game if it would have allowed me to just play the game.

With that out of the way there actually was quite a bit I enjoyed during my adventure. I enjoyed watching my farm grow and getting different seeds throughout my adventure that would allow me to get new crops. I could use these crops (and the fish I caught) to make a stew for everyone, including myself. This is something important that you will want to do as other members of your crew will eventually enjoy your stew enough where they will give you rewards. Perhaps it is an upgrade for an item that you currently have or something new entirely. As you make your way through the story it was pretty awesome to watch your camp come to life. By the end of the game, some of my crew didn’t really want to leave as we had done such a great job building a new life on that small island.

I alluded to the story earlier in this review and I have to say that, overall, I enjoyed the small story that was told in this game. Once we were shipwrecked on this island you eventually find out that no one can leave. Even if we were to completely rebuild our ship we wouldn’t be allowed to leave. As you explore the different islands around you and progress in the story you’ll find out why that is the case and whether or not you can do anything about it. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into too many more details but I generally enjoyed it. There are also a number of collectibles that you will want to pick up on your journey. These collectibles add to the lore of the game and talk about certain events that transpired giving you some backstory on what led to the current situation on the islands. These collectibles are fairly easy to find. There are some of them that you won’t be able to get until later on in the game once you acquire specific items, and you will want to keep an eye on your energy as I talked about above, but they are pretty easy to find.

Going through Stranded Sails I noticed some performance hiccups here and there. The framerate at times was a little jittery and there was definite stutter at times when I was transitioning out of a combat scenario. There were other instances when it seemed like the game needed an extra moment to catch up with everything. It was a bit jarring when that happened but it wasn’t anything game-breaking. I was able to get through the sections I needed and didn’t suffer any adverse effects as a result of some of these problems. I will say though that at the time this review was posted one of the achievements is glitched and not working. The “hat collector” achievement seems to be broken so I hope they eventually fix that with a patch. I’ve come across that in a few games lately and it can be really annoying when the only thing stopping me from unlocking all of the achievements in a game is a glitch that makes it damn near impossible in its current state.

I’m sure while you were reading this you probably think that I have a big disdain for Stranded Sails. That isn’t true at all. I enjoyed the overall experience and had fun watching my camp come to life as the story progressed and learning about what was taking place on the islands. There were some seriously frustrating moments though, whether it was a design decision like the energy mechanic or a glitch. These moments keep the game at “pretty good” instead of “great”. I’m hopeful that if there is a sequel this will all be addressed. If you enjoy smaller indie titles I would definitely encourage you to give this game a try, just beware of some of the things I mentioned throughout this review.

Score: 6/10
Originally posted on Gaming Target

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