Set sail for adventure and prepare to have your timbers shivered, with Stranded Sails, an open-world simulation and adventure game that’s washed ashore on Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Windows.
The game starts off as the player, their father and his crew set sail out of their gloomy town towards a new home in the North. However, as the name of the game might suggest, disaster strikes and the ship crashes, leaving everyone stranded on a cluster of desert islands. It’s up to you to gather resources, grow food, create shelter, and reunite the crew at your camp.
Things progress through a series of story-based quests, for example, finding some trees to chop for wood to use to build a shack for one of the crew. However, these are so simplistic for the first few hours of the game that they can feel like a bit of a drag, and you don’t really have much choice but to power through them all as you slowly unlock more of the game’s features. Later on however, they become a bit more interesting and promote exploration of the different islands, and generally feel a lot more rewarding.
There are plenty of things to do once you get going, whether it be growing and harvesting your own crops, discovering and cooking a multitude of recipes with your ingredients, fishing, or sailing to the different islands and hunting for treasure. The exploration is definitely the most fleshed out and fun of the various features, and is really what sets the game apart from other simulation-type games. Treasure respawns on the islands regularly, and as the game progresses, you unlock more tools that allow you to venture deeper into them, so there’s always good reason to keep revisiting places to see what you’ll find.
Your character has a stamina bar that depletes from doing anything and everything (including just walking around). This can be refilled by sleeping, or eating the food you make. However, it does deplete FAST; it’s an absolute necessity to be carrying food at all times so you don’t pass out (though you don’t lose anything for this happening). At the start of the game when your recipes don’t restore much stamina, and you don’t have any upgraded tools that reduce the stamina used, it can feel like a bit of an effort to do anything as you can’t get much done at once. This improves significantly once you progress though, which feels very rewarding.
One complaint I have, however, is that despite how tied your progression is to the overarching plot, the characters really don’t have any sort of depth or personality to them. They merely seem to serve as names to stick on the quests, rather than as characters that have genuine significance that you actually want to interact with. This makes the story a lot more dull, as you have less motivation to do these tasks for people when all you get in return is very lifeless, repetitive dialogue, which definitely doesn’t help for the first few hours of the game when you just have to get through a lot of this to unlock more things to do.
It’s also worth noting that the music in the game is incredibly pleasant, and is full of relaxing tunes to accompany your adventures. The artstyle is also pretty cute, but can look a little jarring at times, as it adopts a sort of low-poly style. This is more exaggerated in certain places, such as rocks and bushes, but not in others, like wooden objects and your character model. This doesn’t ruin the overall experience however.
Overall, Stranded Sails is a fun, rewarding game to play and definitely a nice one to relax to after a busy day. Its slow start may put some players off, however it is worth pushing through to when all the crew are back together, as the pace really starts to pick up then. There’s absolutely loads of content to discover, so much that even I’ve not been able to experience it all in time for this review. So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to playing – it’s addictive!