cast away paradise
Washed up Facebook game drifts onto Xbox One
Touting your game as being ‘like Animal
Crossing’ is a bold claim, especially when slower, more relaxing games are more popular than ever thanks to the likes of Stardew Valley and No Man’s
Sky, but that’s exactly what this island management game claims to be. It’s a shame then that it isn’t even remotely true. Sure, there are animal villagers you do quests for and a net to catch bugs with, but if you were looking for something cute and relaxing, turn back now – Castaway Paradise is not the game you’re looking for.
Your life as a slave of labour starts when you wash up on the shore of an island inhabited by a handful of animals and bump into a literal pig of a mayor who forces you into work. There’s no time for concern when there are trees to plant and rubbish to clear. Also you live here now, there’s no help to get you home to wherever it is you came from and no escape from the mindless chores the residents need doing.
You can farm, fish, catch insects, place items, destroy rocks and trees, but none of it is particularly exciting. There’s no joy in the process like in
Animal Crossing, it’s a more a case of hollow clicking. Customisation options allow you to decorate the island how you see fit by buying things with the gems you earn from every task.
You can clearly see its Facebook/ mobile origins – there’s a timer on everything. From waiting for buildings to complete, to watching corn grow you’ll have to wait for it to be ready. It’s not a great look for a console game where you expect longer sessions, especially if you find yourself stuck having to wait eight
hours for some cabbages to grow just to make some progress. We found ourselves in this predicament because two of our quests were asking us to remove weeds – something we’d already done so there were none left to remove, but we also couldn’t remove the quest. If we could unlock more islands then we could reach more weeds, but to do that we needed to do more quests – one of which was waiting for the offending vegetable to grow. Backed into a corner there was no choice but to shut the whole game down and check back in the morning to see if the crop was ready. When we did we discovered it was just the first evolution – there were still another two to go before it would be finished, each turn taking another eight hours each. You’re punished for being tidy.
It’s an awful piece of design that completely disrespects a player’s time, and that wasn’t even the only bug. Fish randomly swim on land, there are loads of grammar mistakes, doors only activate if you stand just so, and the bug net doesn’t grab bugs anywhere near the spot you’d expect it to. The game is also too stupid to know where you put things, so if you’re asked to plant some flowers near the beach it really doesn’t matter where you do it, the game only registers the fact that you’ve planted it. It makes any context given to certain quests completely meaningless. It also doesn’t help that the Mayor completely flip-flops on her needs: “Plant two trees… now chop them down… okay, now plant some more… nope, chop ’em.” It’s infuriating.
It really feels like Stolen Couch Games has ballsed up what should be a strong, simple concept – especially when it’s entering a market with so many much better competitors. Feel free to ignore this monstrosity and replay Stardew Valley again, you’ll be so much happier for it.
“There’s no joy in the process like in Animal Crossing”
right Don’t be fooled by the cute looks, this game is a nightmare to actually play.