The clock is nearing midnight, signaling the tip of my harvest. I tuck my ax again into my bag and inflate my balloon, my solely technique of touring between floating islands. However midway by way of my flight dwelling, my coronary heart sinks in realization: My stamina bar is shortly working out.
Darkness closes in as fatigue begins to take maintain. My fingers slip down the balloon’s string, and empty house fills my grasp. I really feel myself falling, the wind tearing at my clothes as my physique cuts by way of the air.
Then, immediately, a home with rooster legs swoops in, plucking me from the sky and sheltering me for the evening. I awake the subsequent day to an erratic, magical man fabricated from totems and talismans who scolds me for not being cautious. As I step out of the home, it vanishes behind me.
After which it’s again to chopping bushes.
Studio Supersoft’s Moonstone Island is filled with bizarre however great quirks like this. The sport blends components of each Stardew Valley and Pokémon with a good looking pixelated aesthetic, charming humorousness and addictive gameplay loop. There’s by no means an finish to its many actions, and though it’s under no circumstances good, Moonstone Island has the potential to succeed in the identical stardom its cozy-game predecessors stumbled into.
A well-recognized appear and feel, however a magical world to discover
In Moonstone Island, you’re a novice Alchemist in your first yr away from dwelling. Earlier than you start your journey, your mother and father educate you tips on how to develop crops, present you your first Spirit (the sport’s tackle pocket monsters), and ship you into an enormous world of magical floating islands. All through your playthrough, you’ll fly between these islands on balloons, brooms, and gliders to gather assets, battle and tame Spirits, and discover dungeons for treasure and upgrades.
From fishing and gardening to wooing your neighbors and adorning your island, there’s an virtually choice-paralysis degree of actions you possibly can spend your days on. The sport doesn’t drive you into one playstyle or the opposite however as a substitute weaves them collectively right into a cohesive expertise whereas permitting you to enterprise out by yourself.
Moonstone Island makes use of an analogous in-game clock as different farming simulators. If the clock strikes 2am or when you deplete your stamina bar earlier than you head to mattress, you’ll go to sleep and the day will finish. After every day, the sport tallies up the objects you’ve bought, the Spirits you’ve bested, and the dungeons you’ve accomplished. At this level, you can even degree up and enhance your potential to reap assets or struggle Spirits.
Though Moonstone Island pulls in components from monster-tamers like Pokémon, it’s removed from Sport Freak’s smash hit. Tamed Spirits comply with you wherever you go, and you may have as much as three on a staff directly. As you discover the islands, you’ll use your Spirits to banish or tame different wild creatures.
The battles comply with extra of a deck-builder formulation than your commonplace turn-based fight; every tamed Spirit has its personal stats and playing cards that stack collectively in a deck, and also you draw a hand of assaults or expertise dispersed throughout your three Spirits. Taking part in a card makes use of stamina, and once you run out of stamina, you finish your flip, and the enemy assaults.
As somebody who loves deck-builders, one of the vital engaging components of the style is the meticulous technique. In Moonstone Island, you possibly can throw collectively a deck with out a lot consequence, which might be a problem if the one focus was on its fight system. It’s not, although, and Moonstone Island’s lack of emphasis on problem permits its audience—informal, cozy-game followers—to higher benefit from the recreation’s different strengths, like its exploration, resource-harvesting, and crafting techniques.
Stardew Valley, arguably essentially the most distinguished farming simulator in the marketplace, has set the gold commonplace for these three gameplay techniques, however Moonstone Island retains tempo with the style veteran. There are 100 islands to discover in Moonstone Island, lots of which have completely different terrains that spawn completely different Spirits and crops. Some islands have dungeons with mini-bosses, however all have at the least one Moonstone and a mine on it, making it important to go to as many islands as you possibly can to reap these uncommon and obligatory assets.
These assets can then be funneled into one in every of Moonstone Island’s many crafting tables to create different assets, furnishings, or ornamental objects for your home or non-public island—you probably have the crafting recipe in your desired merchandise, that’s. It’s staggering simply what number of crafting recipes can be found to seek out in dungeons and mines from the get-go in comparison with Stardew’s furnishings catalog.
As a result of Moonstone Island’s crafting recipes are locked in dungeons or mine chests, you need to discover a mess of islands to seek out all of them. In Stardew, there are solely a few mining places you possibly can go to to gather assets and objects to promote for gold, and you end up returning to the identical places once more and once more simply to accumulate sufficient supplies. In Moonstone, crafting turns into exploration: The 2 intrinsically go hand-in-hand, and that core gameplay loop challenges what Stardew has to supply in the identical respect.
Like Stardew, Moonstone encompasses a assortment of neighbors, however not like the ConcernedApe title, you possibly can romance anybody (sure, even the erratic magic man). Sadly, interacting with the townsfolk was my least favourite a part of Moonstone Island. Whereas Moonstone Island permits you to courtroom any NPC you come throughout, it provides little purpose to work together along with your neighbors exterior of working errands for them.
They could all be handsome, however they’re additionally uninteresting and repetitive, and bonding with them feels prefer it drags on. They repeat comparable inconsequential dialogue traces, complaining in regards to the climate or expressing their curiosity in a brand new interest. You’ll be able to improve your bond with them by giving them items or choosing dialogue choices to “Discuss,” “Joke,” or “Flirt” (which have 75, 55, and 15-percent probabilities of success, respectively).
Even with these strategies, their relationship bars really feel not possible to fill. Granted, I’ve over 100 hours in Stardew Valley and nonetheless haven’t romanced any of the townsfolk. Different Stardew followers possible can’t think about a playthrough with out snuggling as much as Sam or sharing a bottle of wine with Leah. However I have to admit: As an introvert, I naturally favor tending crops over social relationships—even in video video games.
Does Moonstone Island reside as much as the gold commonplace?
Moonstone Island clearly appears to be like as much as its greater sibling, Stardew Valley, and follows in its footsteps throughout many gameplay points. However it carves its personal path by pulling from the monster-taming and deck-building genres—areas Stardew merely can’t compete in.
Because the lovechild of the farming sim, deck-building, and monster-taming genres, Moonstone Island is juggling rather a lot. It doesn’t essentially redefine anyone style, however as a strong jack-of-all-trades, it nonetheless seamlessly blends components from all three nicely sufficient to face by itself two toes. And with sufficient advertising and marketing and constant developer help, Moonstone Island can hope to succeed in the identical heights an indie large like Stardew Valley did.