Spirit of the Island – First Impressions

Spirit Of The Island - First Impressions

Ever felt like taking a break from the usual world-saving, villain-defeating career of a hero to settle down alone or with your significant other, tend to your little farm, maybe open a cute shop to attract tourists…

Enter Spirit of the Island, a colorful co-op life sim with RPG elements and cutest graphic design developed by 1M Bits Horde and published by META Publishing. Watch out, Stardew Valley, here comes a new challenger!

The game is currently available in Steam Early Access, with the developers tirelessly pumping out updates and learning what changes to introduce to the title with the help of player feedback.

The team aims to add cross-platform multiplayer, new quest lines, mechanics, content, NPCs and more as the EA stage progresses. Recently the game received the first major update – Buried Treasures, adding a new Treasure Digging mechanic.

As it usually happens in these kinds of games, at the beginning of Spirit of the Island your character finds themselves, alone or with a companion if you are playing in co-op, in a small desolate shack on an island full of friendly, quirky neighbors and colorful zones.

This Archipelago that was once a jewel of tourist travel has since fallen into obscurity, crumbling from lack of care and attacks by the pirates. But all of that is about to change when your skilled and hardworking hands grab the reins!

But before you set your eyes on other islands and start producing tourist attractions, there are a lot of things to tackle: the game features bars for hunger, thirst and rest so you have to ensure you have a reliable way to get food and water as well as a place to sleep.

You will also have to fight your way through extremely cute but weirdly aggressive crabs, cut trees, mine rocks and much more. The game features a variety of skills that you will be able to level up and employ as you play: farming, mining, foraging, cooking,social, fishing, exploration, combat, electronics and crafting. As you use the skill, you get experience to increase its rank.

Using any kind of activity, including the aforementioned skills, as well as waving your dangerous knife around and even jumping uses up energy. Fortunately – or unfortunately? – it passively restores quickly enough that it might as well not even exist.

Once you are done running around your property and attempting to dismantle anything and everything you come into contact with, it is time to meet your neighbors and get the party started.

The game features a certain personal story for your character: they were sent by their parents to discover and repair the house and find someone called the Elder. The conversation with the required character continues the quest onward, dropping a few story twists along the way.

If you have business in the city, you want to get on it quickly – the stores only work for a few hours a day and once it gets dark characters hide in their houses till the next morning while your own protagonist is left to hop around the sleeping city like a maniac, hoping to run into someone.

Additionally, while the buildings are reflected on the map, their purposes are not marked – so you can’t tell at a glance what is a museum or what is a store, etc. You will either have to memorize their locations or navigate the area by following the character icons.

The game features a reputation system, but at this moment it is very basic: you usually have three options to choose from when you talk to an NPC, a very nice answer, a nice answer and a rude one. It is extremely easy to say which one is which and will give you maximum rep.

With a few hours into the game, even in the Early Access stage it offers a plethora of things to do for people who like to be on top of everything, especially if you decide to play together with someone else. You might want to play a bit of single-player before jumping into co-op as the tutorial eases you into the gameplay loop a bit smoother that way and you don’t have to compete with your partner for the single set of tools.

Speaking of tools and staying on top of things, you want to keep track of your inventory. You have a limited number of slots that can hold items and they tend to get cluttered up almost immediately: drank your water? Now you hold an empty water bottle! Randomly sliced at a plant while running by? Have some plant fiber and leaves stuck into your pockets.

Additionally, the inventory system could use some work: you can’t drag and drop items to, for example, a quick bar. You have to click on an item and then press the number you want it to be associated with or press buttons to drop/destroy the selected item.

As a title in Steam Early Access, Spirit of the Island offers many hours worth of content for players that are looking for a chill, cute and somewhat addictive adventure that will involve farming, gathering, interacting with NPCs and more. The game becomes doubly fun when you have a friend or a significant other joining you on this journey.

There are certain weaknesses and shortcomings when it comes to QoL or systems, but nothing a good Early Access stage won’t fix. If you prefer the games that have been fully released, you might still want to keep an eye on Spirit of the Island – the developers are routinely releasing new content for the game and taking player feedback in consideration.

Note: the Steam key was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this preview. 

Pros:

  • Cute style
  • Cozy & chill
  • Co-op mode
  • Setting up your own store!
  • Addictive game loop
  • No, seriously, watch out for your time
  • Constant updates

Cons:

  • Convoluted inventory & overall controls
  • Buildings are not marked on the map
  • Can only do city activities for a few hours each in-game day
  • Reputation & stamina systems are very basic at the moment
Written by
A lover of all things RPG and TBS, Catherine is always looking for a new fantasy world to get lost in.

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