Stranded Sails - Explorers of the Cursed Islands (Nintendo Switch) Review

By TJ 16.12.2019

Review for Stranded Sails - Explorers of the Cursed Islands on Nintendo Switch

Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands presents itself as a serene, and almost carefree, lost-at-sea adventure. Unfortunately, it is not entirely clear who the target audience is. On one hand, the art style is simple and colourful. On the other hand, the game design squanders the player's freedom to explore. This ultimately slows progress, and while it is frustrating to an adult, a younger player may be entirely turned away from the experience. With far too frequent save data corruption occurring on the Switch platform, this title is difficult to recommend.

The introduction to Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands starts the player off in their house. After reading a letter from their father, Captain Charles, and donning their trusty backpack, they set off toward the harbour. The very first thing that stands out is how charming the actual houses and streets are. The stylization is soft and almost cartoon-like. Colours are muted, but this does a wonderful job of conveying the concept of leaving behind the mundane, drab life for adventure and beauty. There is a lot of attention to detail in terms of making the environment here feel realistically cluttered, and lived-in. Once departed out to the sea, and inevitable catastrophe strikes, you are forced to find the various members of the ship as well as provide food, shelter, and company during such dire times. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of the charm begins to fade away.

On a purely aesthetic level, the islands are not that enticing. The starting harbour feels much more alive than the island the ship ultimately ended up crashing into. There is a day and night cycle, but nothing seems to indicate any major differences between the two. During either the day or the night, the islands feel empty and devoid of life. There are little critters such as crabs and starfish, but exploration feels lacklustre. Not only is the excitement not there, but exploration is rather frustrating to commit to, as there is a constant energy meter that drains with basically any action taken. Running, chopping trees, and even rowing the boat, will diminish this resource. If fully drained, the player faints and wakes up in the cabin of the now beached ship.

Screenshot for Stranded Sails - Explorers of the Cursed Islands on Nintendo Switch

While this doesn't impact the inventory, or harm progress directly, it is a massive discouragement to exploration. For example: say there is an item that is hidden on an island. While the player can bring food to replenish their energy, the amount of energy burned through harvesting trees, vegetation, or simply rowing to the destination add up. Factor in choosing to sprint over walking, and a simple errand can take several tries to be successful.

It's monotonous and quite frankly counter-productive to the core of the game, especially since there are no real consequences at stake. Nobody requires food or water to stay alive, the player can sleep for days without issue, and there is no downside to constantly "dying." The accessibility and laid-back nature available fundamentally shoots itself in the foot. There are survival elements, but no incentive or purpose that drives the need to survive.

Additionally, there exist seemingly game-breaking bugs that stunt progress. One crew member requests that the player finds their fishing rod. When approaching the same character while holding the aforementioned 'Broken Fishing Rod' in the 'Quest Items' inventory, he spouts his usual 'find my fishing rod' request. There are several instances of this occurring, and when they do it completely stops the story progress. The quest bug happened once at the very beginning, and Captain Charles wouldn't even leave the harbour. Perhaps there is some issue between sleep mode and auto-saving, but when compounded with the slow pacing on a whole, the idea of starting over is agonizing.

Screenshot for Stranded Sails - Explorers of the Cursed Islands on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

While the experience is not an entirely negative one, it leaves little to enjoy when problems start coming up. The charming atmosphere and stylization lends itself well to being a sort of survival-lite adventure for a younger audience; the quests are straightforward; and, finally, the difficulty is forgiving. Those looking for an exploration game will find frustrations abound in this title, and unfortunately the design choices lead to a rather disappointing experience as a whole.

Also known as

Stranded Sails

Developer

Lemonbomb Entertainment

Publisher

Merge Games

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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